High Trestle Trail

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High Trestle Trail
High Trestle Trail Bridge.jpg
High Trestle Trail Bridge
Length 25 mi (40 km)
Location Central Iowa, United States
Trailheads Ankeny
Use Hiking, biking, equestrian (between Slater and the Des Moines River, and the Des Moines River to Woodward, but not on the bridge itself)
Hiking details
Surface Asphalt / concrete
Right of way Local governments and/or groups, on land formerly owned by Union Pacific Railroad[1]

High Trestle Trail is a rail trail running from Ankeny to Woodward in central Iowa.[2][3] The recreation trail opened on April 30, 2011.[4][5][6][7][8] It is a paved recreational trail that runs through the Polk, Story, Boone, and Dallas counties. The trail's name is derived from a former 1913 bridge that spanned the Des Moines River between the towns of Madrid and Woodward.

Conservation board directors and the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation estimate that more than 3,000 people use this trail each week.[9] The trail is a major component of a planned pair of 100-mile (160 km) loops that will meet near Des Moines.[1]


The High Trestle Trail follows the route of a former Union Pacific Railroad (UPRR) freight line between Woodward and Ankeny, Iowa. UPRR first proposed retiring the line in 2003. The lowa Natural Heritage Foundation (INHF), which had organized other rail-trail projects in Iowa, bought the 439 acres (178 ha) corridor from UPRR in 2005. As part of the transaction, UPRR donated over $3 million of land value. INHF then transferred sections of the land to partner agencies in the five cities and four counties within the corridor.

Construction on the trail, designed by engineering firm Snyder and Associates, Inc. began in early 2006 to include 1,010 feet (310 m) of trail in Woodward. In 2007, bookend projects in Woodward and Ankeny were constructed. The catalyst for construction came from a $5.6 million Congressional appropriation in 2005. With the help of additional state and federal grants, 20 additional miles of trail were completed and opened to the public in 2008.

The last portion to be completed was the high bridge over the Des Moines River. A $1.75 million grant from Vision Iowa, a project of the Iowa Economic Development Authority, helped fund the construction of a new bridge superstructure designed by Shuck-Britson, Inc., and artwork by RDG Dahlquist Art Studio. The project was officially completed with the grand opening of the bridge in April 2011.[10] Following its completion, the trail was awarded a Mid American Energy Trails and Greenways project award that October.[9][11]

Trestle bridge[edit]

High Trestle Bridge at night

The 13-story (40-meter) high and nearly half-mile (770-meter) long trestle bridge provides scenic views of the Des Moines River Valley[12] and is located near mining shafts that were worked by Italian immigrant families and others who settled nearby.[13] The bridge decking incorporates a decorative structure that represents the view through a mine shaft,[13][14][15][16] and its design includes decorative lighting that remains on until 10:30pm in the summer and 9:00pm in the winter.[6][7][17]

The bridge was originally built in the 1970s to carry rail traffic on a Milwaukee Road line. With the retirement of that rail line in the early 2000s, the original bridge deck was removed, and its steel I-beams were reused for a new Union Pacific bridge in Boone.[18] However, the piers (or trestles) remained in place, and the original piers now support a new deck designed for pedestrian and bicycle traffic. Between the removal of the original decking and the construction of its replacement, the single-file line of unconnected concrete piers was informally known as "Iowa's Stonehenge."[10]

April 2, 2015, the BBC designated the High Trestle Trail Bridge as one of the eight amazing footbridges in the world.[19]


These are the trailheads:[20]

Connections to other recreational trails[edit]

The High Trestle Trail connects at Slater to the 32-mile (51 km) Heart of Iowa Nature Trail in Story and Marshall counties. A connection to Des Moines is planned via Big Creek State Park and the 26-mile (42 km) Neal Smith Trail.[6][7][17][21][22] A third connection is planned between Woodward and Perry to the 90-mile (140 km) Raccoon River Valley Trail.[17]

The High Trestle Trail lies between two 100-mile (160 km) recreational trail loops near Des Moines. The western loop involves the Raccoon River Valley Trail and the Clive Greenbelt Trail. The eastern loop includes the Heart of Iowa Nature Trail, the Chichaqua Valley Trail and the Gay Lea Wilson Trail.[20]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Polk County Conservation Board. "High Trestle Trail". Retrieved July 3, 2012. 
  2. ^ http://www.inhf.org//trails/high-trestle.cfm Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation (INHF) website, updated October 2011, retrieved October 14, 2011.
  3. ^ http://www.inhf.org//trails/high-trestle.cfm INHF website, released February 2011, retrieved March 14, 2011.
  4. ^ http://www.inhf.org/pdfs/11_INHF_winter_mag_pp1-16_1-7-11_final_11.pdf Celebrate a world-class trails destination INHF Winter 2011 Magazine website retrieved March 14, 2011.
  5. ^ http://www.inhf.org/high-trestle-trail-intro.cfm Premier trail and bridge officially opens at Grand Celebration, April 2011 INHF website, updated October 2011, retrieved October 10, 2011.
  6. ^ a b c http://www.inhf.org//trails/high-trestle.cfm Map of High Trestle Trail INHF website retrieved March 14, 2011.
  7. ^ a b c http://www.polkcountyiowa.gov/conservation/parks-trails/13-high-trestle-trail/map-detail/ High Trestle Trail Map Polk County Conservation Board website retrieved April 20, 2013.
  8. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2009-07-11. Retrieved 2010-10-27.  Transportation Map for Bicyclists, 2010 edition, (see trail #2) Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT) website retrieved February 17, 2010.
  9. ^ a b http://www.inhf.org/high-trestle-trail-intro.cfm High Trestle Trail Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation website updated June 2011 retrieved July 19, 2011.
  10. ^ a b Hein, Lisa (Spring 2012). "Trail Blazers". Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation magazine: 14–17. 
  11. ^ Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation (2012). "Trail Partners" (PDF). Retrieved June 24, 2012. 
  12. ^ https://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=42663&id=20832839998 High Trestle Trail Photos High Trestle Trail INHF Facebook website updated April 2011, retrieved July 19, 2011.
  13. ^ a b Cooney, Kevin (March 14, 2011). "Bridge Art Wows Bicyclists". KCCI-TV 8HD. Retrieved March 14, 2011. 
  14. ^ http://rdgusa.com/high_trestle_trail/latest_news/components.html High Trestle Trail: High Trestle Bridge | Artwork Components of Bridge Art on RDg Dahlquist Art Studios website retrieved July 19, 2011.
  15. ^ http://rdgusa.com/high_trestle_trail/latest_news/photos.html High Trestle Trail: High Trestle Bridge | Artwork Daytime Photos of the bridge art on RDg Dahlquist Art Studios website retrieved July 19, 2011.
  16. ^ http://rdgusa.com/high_trestle_trail/latest_news/2011/04/photos---april-13-2011.html High Trestle Trail: High Trestle Bridge | Artwork Nighttime Photos of the bridge art on RDg Dahlquist Art Studios website retrieved July 19, 2011.
  17. ^ a b c http://www.inhf.org//trails/high-trestle.cfm Central Iowa Trails Network INHF website retrieved October 10, 2011.
  18. ^ http://bridgehunter.com/ia/boone/woodward-rail/
  19. ^ Macdonald, Fiona (April 2, 2015). "Architecture Design: Eight Amazing Footbridges". BBC. Retrieved January 23, 2016. 
  20. ^ a b http://www.polkcountyiowa.gov/conservation/parks-trails/13-high-trestle-trail/ High Trestle Trail Polk County Conservation Board website, retrieved April 20, 2013.
  21. ^ https://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&hl=en&msa=0&msid=212816457429398096288.0004a0bb69abdd70f28f5&ll=41.872373,-93.88813&spn=0.110696,0.207367&z=12&iwloc=0004a0bb6d45af79befe8%20%3Chttp://maps.googleAnkeny to Woodward trail map (big) INHF website retrieved February 22, 2010.
  22. ^ http://www.inhf.org//trails/neal-smith-john-pat-dorrian.cfm Neal Smith and John Pat Dorrian Trails INHF website, retrieved April 20, 2013.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 41°52′16″N 93°41′32″W / 41.8712°N 93.6922°W / 41.8712; -93.6922