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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
Review: For the area this is a great place to ride. Nice well maintained singletrack with a little of everything. Some small hilly areas, couple jumps, rails. Got a couple trails left to check out here but its definately a fun place to get in a ride.
Review: Fast and swoopy trail with some flat sections. Almost all of it is awesome singletrack (some connection parts are the paved path.)
It has a few technical features. Skinnies, teeter totters, and log crossings. It even has a tire you can roll up and over. A few of the trees are fairly close together also.
Review: Nice flow with some short climbs and technical bits. Seem to be ridden a bit. Nothing crazy difficult. Short (~3 miles) of single track but routes can be mixed to meet your needs. Perfect for a single speed! Good stuff.
Review: Super easy trail to access right off of 54th ave located next to the park swimming pool. Trails are somewhat technical but scenically its amazing and a fun way to burn a few hours with twist backs and easy climbs.
Review: Fun and easily accessible singletrack in the heart of Des Moines. The most fun/challenging area of the trail system is the northern 2 or so mile section by the Ashworth pond and pool area. Unfortunately, it seems like these trails get smaller every year due to flooding and or city take-over. Also, I've never seen so many deer in my life than are in this area. * Review edited 12/5/2009
Review: 3-4 miles of moderately (3) Technical XC trails. closest to the trail head. Trails have good flow and are a lot of fun. Many miles of paved scenic trails from the same TH, so can still get some miles in. Dir. to TH ; from Grand Ave take 45st South to end (parking lot). There are also some beignner ST trails in the NW cornner of Ashworth Park, and more trails the otherside of the creek that I didn't get to.
Review: One of few trails I have experienced, I was amazed at how fun it was! It was a little muddy which made it more fun, but I had to take the turns a little slower. I would go here daily if a lived near by. I saw three bucks on the trail and the little wood plank bridges are the first ive been on and they are sick - there is like 10
Similar Trail: This is the only one i've been too!
Review: These trails are flat and fast, especially if you know where you're going. I recommend stopping at Rasmussen's Bike Shop on Grand Blvd. (I believe) in Des Moines to find someone to give you the tour of these trails. Once you figure out the route, it's a great time.