The Center Trails

4.24 out of 5
View Topo Map


↑ 2,300 ft
↓ 1,800 ft
elevation (ft)

Trail Description
About this trail
There is a nice trail system behind the Art Center. Trails are singletrack, hilly and somewhat technical. There is no official designation on their use, but it is on City land and thus should be legal. The trails have been used for years by cyclist and hikers.
added by Guest December 31, 2002
Trail Features
Trail features
  • Lift Service
  • Drinking Water
  •   Night Riding
  • Pump Track
  • Restrooms
  • Winter Fat Biking
Directions to Trailhead
Get Directions
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Trail Q&A
Rider Questions


Q: any jumps or skinnies, drops? -Guest

A: Skinny yes. about 30' 2X6 span. Drops maybe if you want to go between trees over roots. I havn't seen it all.

Bubblehead10MM answered on May 29, 2014. Did you find this helpful? Yes | No


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Local Info & Nearby Trails
Trail Check-ins
Trail Check-ins
what's this?
Recent Trail Check-ins     (26 total check-ins)
  Jason.Uhlenhake   3 weeks ago
  In2treks   on May 23, 2015
  Jason.Uhlenhake   on May 11, 2015
  Jason.Uhlenhake   on Apr 29, 2015
  Jason.Uhlenhake   on Apr 2, 2015
Photo & Video Gallery (25)
Trail Photos & Videos (25)
Reviews (21)

March 8, 2015
Review: Where is this trail located. And where is this roller coaster section or the more intermediate sections. I drive to Des Moines for work would love to shred these trails...

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November 7, 2014
Review: Rode the roller coaster today for the first time. A bit intimidating the first time through, but a blast the next time with knowledge of upcoming drops, climbs and bridges.

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July 22, 2014
Review: Fun ride. Windy, timber trails, with some climbing, but nothing terribly difficult. Located in the center of town, easily accesible. Group rides on Wednesday evenings at 5:30.

Similar Trail: Gunn Park Trails

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October 27, 2013
Review: The trails on the north side of the tracks are a bit more technical then those on south side. Most of the climbing is on the north side as well. The trails on the south are pretty much flat and flowing. The signage at the trail is not real good, it took me some looking around to find all that I did and still not sure I found it all. There are trails going every which way on the north side. The trails are not real technical and most of the climbs should not be a problem for someone who has been ridding for awhile. South side would be great for novice riders.

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October 26, 2013
Review: Directions to the trailhead are correct and very easy. You cant miss it from the parking lot. Having someone who can show you the trails would help a lot because they start and stop on the paved bike trails so its difficult to pick it back up again after getting on the pavement.

The hilly side of the trail is just that, hilly. I was disappointed in the trail because I havent ridden it in a couple years and the hills have been used quite a bit, causing roots to be exposed. Roots kill your momentum when going up hills and killed my fun a little bit too. The downhill parts are fun and some of the corners are tight and come up on your fast. In the flatter sections there are some fun obstacles, a tetter totter, some skinny bridges, and a tractor tire buried half in the ground. The flatter part of the trail has a better flow, but I think it gets and stays soggy after rainfall. This trail (and all other trails in town) is leaf covered making cornering at speed questionable.

Fun trail with a lot of variety. CAUTION: this is a very busy trail, with people going both directions on bikes and on foot, it is not recommended to wear headphones while riding this trail ever and it is very important to watch for others. There are a lot of people walking the trail to look at the leaves, take pictures, and generally be a hazard for you. Stay safe.

Similar Trail: Sycamore trail, Banner State Park trail

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May 20, 2013
Review: Good variety... some flat fast stuff in the river valley, while some nice hills by Ashworth Pool and Art Center

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April 25, 2013
Review: One of the best in-city trail systems I've come across. I've had small groups of deer run with me for a couple hundred yards along the trail. A wonderful place to take beginners to hone their skills. CITA does a wonderful job if maintaining the trails, thanks guys! You can easily piece together a good 10-15mi ride. Avoid in wet weather, and slow down in blind corners as these trails are busy.

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November 24, 2012
Review: Best trails in the Des Moines area. North of the railroad tracks it's very hilly. South side by the water works area is very flat and fast. All the trails are smooth like concrete!

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August 6, 2012
Review: Very Challenging. Need strong legs to complete this one for sure without stopping and walking the bike up a steep long incline. Very Scenic with alot of cliffs and drop offs. This course can be dangerous and I wouldnt recommend it to a leisure rider. If you want a challenge and a grueling workout this is the trail for you. Tons of hills up and down. LOTS OF TREE STUMPS AND ROOTS STICKING OUT. : ). GREAT TRAIL FOR THE RIGHT PERSON

* Review edited 8/6/2012

Similar Trail: Not like sycamore trail at all. Much longer, winding, vertically challenged routes.

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July 17, 2012
Review: Unbelievable trails for Iowa even without considering that they are conveniently located right in the middle of Des Moines. The trails have enough technical bits to satisfy intermediates but are still easy enough for the greenest beginner. The trails have multiple fun downhill routes and enough easy climbs to make getting to the top fairly painless. The only major drawback is that the trails are not extensive enough as is. It looks like the trails used to be more extensive but that a good number of them have not been kept up or closed. Seeing that hard work and those fun routes go to waste is disappointing.

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The Center Trails MTB Trail 4.24 out of 5 based on 21 ratings. 21 user reviews.
Trail Conditions
Trail Conditions          < / > embed