Tucked behind the Des Moines Art Center lies an underrated sanctuary for mountain bikers and outdoor enthusiasts alike: The Center Trails. Managed by the Central Iowa Trail Association, these official City of Des Moines trails offer a surprising range of terrain right in the heart of the city. With a distance of 15 miles, intermediate-level trails form a network ideal for those seeking both tranquility and a solid workout.
The Center Trails are mainly singletrack and hilly, presenting a moderate technical challenge for riders. The trails on the north side are more demanding, with steep climbs and roots to navigate, whereas the trails on the south side are more flowy and flat.
The trails are generally well-maintained, but there have been reports of slippery conditions following rainfall. Seasonal leaf cover may add an extra layer of complexity.
These trails are popular with walkers and runners, so be prepared to share the path. On Wednesdays at 5:30 PM, group rides are organized, offering a communal riding experience.
Whether you're a local or just passing through, the Center Trails offer a unique blend of in-city convenience and off-road enjoyment. The fact that these trails are within a stone's throw from downtown Des Moines only adds to their appeal. If you're in the area and itching for a ride, the Center Trails are well worth the trip.