Mountain Bike Trails near Des Moines, Iowa

If you are planning your next trip to Des Moines, we have plenty of suggestions on the best places to visit in the capital of Iowa. Whether you are a nature lover, foodie, bike rider, or historian, the city has something for everyone. There are architectural landmarks such as Jordan House and the 146-year-old Hoyt Sherman Place, the Living History Museum, Iowa State Capitol, and State Historical Museum which showcase the city’s cultural heritage. Art lovers will be delighted by the John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park, and foodies can enjoy an assortment of tasty cuisines at the East Village. For family fun, there is the annual Iowa State Fair with trade shows, barns and amusement rides, Adventureland theme park in Altoona, and the Science Center of Iowa.

Best Mountain Bike Trails near Des Moines, Iowa

Des Moines
Grandview Park is a singletrack trail with a diverse terrain ideal for biking skill levels. It is family-friendly and has enough technical sections for intermediate and
1.6 mi
Des Moines
The Sycamore trail is the perfect mix of singletrack and double-track trail for all biking skill levels. It is a fantastic route for beginners who need to get used to their
15.4 mi
Des Moines
The Top shelf trail is an easy, short singletrack that anyone, including children and beginner riders, can do. Keep reading for in-depth information about its features. The
3.04 mi
Des Moines
The Loomis Park Loop is a popular biking route that links several trails in the famous Memorial Park. The loop is super-easy, with plenty of easy-flowing sections. The
1.24 mi
Des Moines
The Banner Lakes At Summerset Park is a trail system with the most hilly and technical sections in the Des Moines area.  The Banner Lakes at Summerset Park is a
5 mi
Des Moines
IntroductionTucked behind the Des Moines Art Center lies an underrated sanctuary for mountain bikers and outdoor enthusiasts alike: The Center Trails. Managed by the Central
15 mi

Des Moines, Iowa: Area Description

Des Moines is the largest city and metropolitan area in Iowa as well as its capital since 1857. The city is located in the fertile Corn Belt that is encompassed by coal fields in Central Iowa, where the Raccoon River meets the Des Moines River, which feeds the Mississippi River.

It is 90.65 square miles in size, and the area is made up of 98% water and 1.9% water. From 2009, the city incorporated 14.9 miles in the north, south, east, and west regions. Des Moines is made up of 13 cities. They include Windsor Heights, Urbandale, Clive, Johnston, Carlisle, West Des Moines, and Ankeny cities.

The metropolitan area is made up of six counties; Jasper, Madison, Dallas, Guthrie, Polk, and Warren. Jasper is the biggest county with an area of 733 square miles, followed by Dallas and Polk, which are equal in size with an area of 592 square miles.

There are several parks that preserve wildlife and natural resources, and they have to Adopt Trail programs to help with cleanup.

Land area (sq. mi; sq. km) 90.70 sq mi (234.92 km2)
Minimum Elevation 955 ft (291 m)
Maximum Elevation  955 ft (291 m)

Demographics of Des Moines

Des Moines has a population of 215,408, according to the last census, with a 92% rate of citizenship. The largest ethnic groups are 73.32% White, 11.39% African American, and 6.49% Asian. The most common places of birth for foreign-born residents, who make up 12.9% of the total population, are Mexico, India, and China.

Did you know that Iowa has a 91% graduation rate, which is the highest in the United States? In Des Moines, 86.69% of residents who are 25 or older have earned a high school diploma or higher.

Gender enrolment in universities is 61% for women and 39% for men, and the median earning is $40,978 for men and $32,320 for women.

The top domestic production products are machinery, mixed freight, seafood, and meat, and the domestic trade has grown to 262 billion dollars, with Illinois, Minnesota, and Texas as the leading trade partners.

59.6% of the residents are homeowners, and the median household income is $54,843. There is an average of 2 cars for every household, and 78.6% of the population drives to work. 19.1 minutes is the average commute time.

Total population 214,133
Population density (persons per sq. km) 2,428.39/sq mi (937.60/km2)

Climate of Des Moines

The summers in Des Moines are hot, wet, and humid, and the warm season is from May to September, with temperatures ranging from 70s to 90s. July averages a nighttime low of 68°F and a high of 86°F. The temperature of Des Moines summers is similar to that of Wisconsin and Michigan.

Spring features afternoon thunderstorms, high humidity, and heavy rain, but Fall has favorable temperatures, and it is the best time to visit Center Grove Orchard and pick strawberries and apples.

The winters are dry, cold, cloudy, and windy, and the cool season is from November to March. The winters can be moderate or freezing, and it is common to have snowfall and temperatures dropping below 0°F. January is the coldest month.

The average annual snowfall is 33 inches, and rainfall is 36 inches.

Average Temperature by Months

Month Temperature
January  24°F
February 28°F
March 40°F
April  52°F
May 63°F
June  72°F
July  76°F
August 74°F
September  66°F
October  53°F
November  40°F
December  27°F


Des Moines is the transportation hub of Iowa owing to its size and designation as the capital of the state. Des Moines International Airport is the main airport for passengers and cargo. It is near the Grandview Park bike trail, which has a dirt surface similar to Water Works Park trail, and the difficulty level is beginner to intermediate.

The main interstate highway that serves the city is 1-235, which passes through the metropolitan area. There are also I-35 and I-80 interstate highways and highways such as US 6, US 65, Iowa 5, Iowa 28, US 69, Iowa 46, and Iowa 163.

In addition to freeways and parkways, Des Moines has more than 18 major roads and streets that connect the neighborhoods and cities. They include 63rd Street, University Avenue, Hickman Road, Vandalia Road, Hubbell Avenue, Douglas Avenue, and Merle Hay Road.

Des Moines Area Regional Transit Authority (DART) is the main transit system, and it will offer free rides in May for passengers who will board with bikes.

The Link and D-Line offer free shuttle services, and the rail system includes Union Pacific Railroad and Iowa Interstate Railroad. There is also a 4.2-mile skywalk to ease access to buildings.

At the Port of Des Moines, which is located in Polk County, the main operating vessels are pleasure crafts, followed by sailing vessels.

Sights and Landmarks in Des Moines

Des Moines is dotted with parks, museums, state fairgrounds, farmer’s markets, gorgeous gardens, zoos, historic structures, and amazing bike trails for all levels. You will also get a great view of the Raccoon and Des Moines rivers and lakes, such as Colchester and Easter.

Other major destination spots include:

  • Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden
  • The Jordan House
  • Des Moines Art Center
  • Terrace Hill
  • Downtown Farmer's Market
  • Blank Park Zoo
  • Iowa Speedway
  • Salisbury House & Gardens

FAQ about Trails in Des Moines

Which bike trails in Central Iowa are suitable for beginners?

Top Shelf bike trail in Des Moines is moderately easy with short and steep descents. It is a singletrack with a two-way section as you ride under the Beaver Avenue Bridge. It is connected to the longer Sycamore trail, a combined track that includes paved segments as well as singletrack and doubletrack trails. It also has some rolling plains, but the terrain is mostly flat, so new riders will find it manageable.

Which is the most difficult Des Moines mountain bike trail?

According to many reviews by mountain bikers, the Banners Lake trail system is grueling, with some hilly terrains, tight corners, and sharp climbs and descents that limit flow on the Coal Miner's Daughter, Corner Pocket, and Extra Credit. However, there are also sections, such as Riverside, where you can speed smoothly on a flatter surface. The trail includes un-railed bridges and loose rocks.

Are there bike trails near the Blanden Memorial Art Museum in Des Moines?

There are several tracks you can explore within minutes. They include Loomis Park Loop along the Des Moines River and Phinney Trail Loop. Lizard Creek also has three trails that range from easy to moderate.