High Trestle Trail
The High Trestle Trail stretches 25 miles and passes through five cities: Woodward, Madrid, Slater, Ankeny and Sheldahl. The High Trestle Trail is a "rail trail," or a decommissioned railroad line that has been converted into a multi-use trail, so the terrain is relatively smooth and flat. That in conjunction with the variety of access points makes it an ideal trail for joggers, cyclists, rollerbladers, non-motorized scooters, and those training for races.
Most visitors will want to experience the trail's main attraction, the High Trestle Trail Bridge located between Woodward and Madrid. The trail crosses over this 1/2-mile, 13-story high bridge over the Des Moines River valley. The High Trestle Trail Bridge is one of the largest trail bridges in the world and was named as one of BBC's "Eight Amazing Footbridges" in 2015. The bridge includes six overlooks with interactive panels that highlight the area's cultural and natural history. The 41 steel frames over the bridge represent support cribs within a historic coal mine. After dark, the bridge comes alive as blue lights illuminate a section of the steel cribbings, which mark the location of the main river channel below. From April through October, the bridge is lit from sunset until midnight. From November through March, the lights turn off at 9 p.m.
Need a break?
In addition to mainstay establishments like the Whistlin' Donkey and Cayanne's Cafe in Woodward, Flat Tire Lounge and The Filling Station in Madrid and Nite Hawk Bar & Grille and Cole's Restaurant in Slater, the trail also runs near several local breweries and a winery. Firetrucker Brewery, Mistress Brewing Company and New American Brewery are all located in Ankeny and have great local brews. If you're looking for wine, Snus Hill Vineyard and Winery is located northeast of Madrid. For nature lovers, try adding camping as part of your High Trestle Trail experience. Swede Point Park is located just two miles northwest of Madrid. The 128-acre park is nestled in the woods along the river and features hiking trails, volleyball courts and a playground.