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  1. #1
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    Ames Iowa offroad trail suggestions?

    I'm going to be in Ames this weekend for a College reunion. From my quick look at the forums I have read of Seven Oaks trail near Boone and Peterson Park/McFarland park just North of Ames. I'll have had a 12 hour drive and some alcohol by Friday night but still figure I need to go on a ride if I'm going to haul my bike all the way up there.

    Either place outstanding compared to the other?
    Are there any scheduled group rides at these two parks Saturday morning?
    Is either a one way trail?
    I will either be riding at the crack of dawn or during the Iowa/Iowa State game.
    My current thought is to ride the McFarland park trail since it would save some drive time.

    My preference is something fast and flowing with a few hills and no poison ivy and not too many roots or sand.

    I live in Dallas now and believe it or not we have some great trails, ride-able pretty much year round. DORBA | Dallas Off-Road Bicycle Association

  2. #2
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    I haven't riddeen Peterson, but know that they just cancelled a MTB race there due to trail issues. Not sure what the scoop is. Seven Oaks is fun, but it has a lot of short, punchy climbs. Worth the drive, but it depends on what you are looking for. With the drive from Dallas, you have options in Des Moines and KC that are worth checking out on the way to town or on the way home. If those interest you, post up and we will get you more info.

    Not MTB, but a cool rail trail is just south of Ames. Madrid to Woodward on the High Trestle Trail. Nice bicycle bar on the Madrid end, that would be a nice diversion between drinking

  3. #3
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    I will see how Saturday morning events shape up and either ride Seven Oaks or McFarland depending on my free time. Is McFarland and Peterson the same park? I thought they were across the river from each other? I need to check the map again.

    I would be interested in knowing about a good hour or so ride along I35 for my Sunday drive South. I grew up in Des Moines (Hoover '79) and remember riding my sting ray on trails on the Northside of DSM, long before they put that paved trail in along the river. I road my Raleigh 10 speed to Ames a couple of times and across Iowa once on Ragbrai. It amazes me how different bikes are since I was a kid, index shifting, suspension (Fox Terralogic is awesome), hydraulic brakes, tubeless tires. I wish I was 30-40 years younger, had the money to buy a nice bike, the skills I have now, and a little less weight in my belly!

  4. #4
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    I'm not familiar with McFarland or Peterson so I can't add advice on those.

    However, if you want to relive your childhood, we have a few trails in Des Moines that should bring back memories. The Sycamore trail is on the northside of DSM and west side of the River. Recently groomed by CITA and a fun 4 miles out and back for a fast 8. In town, below the Art Museam is another 13miles of trail. Hillside and Denmans are in good shape. Rollercoaster needs rework.

    Google Central Iowa Trail Association in Des Moines and click on the trails link to get info.

  5. #5
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    I'm going to try for the Sycamore trail on my drive home. That is the area I use to play in extensively when I was growing up. There was an old brick factory in that area and we used to explore those woods. The trail looks like it goes right through the clay pits, should be interesting.

  6. #6
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    Peterson and McFarland are two separate parks, but near each other. Peterson has trails on both sides of the river, but the east entrance to the park is closed due to bridge replacement/road closure by the county.

    I rode the west side of Peterson a few weeks ago. The trails where meh. There was a lot of sand, but my husband says there was a lot of sand 20 years ago when he rode them in college. Other thing I didn't like was that a lot of the trails you could drive a truck down... it was obvious trucks had been recently driven through there to install power lines. But I was still looking forward to the race.

    Bona, did you ride Sycamore? What did you think? It's one of my new favorite trails.

  7. #7
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    Skunk River Greenbelt?

    Does nobody ride this anymore?

  8. #8
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    I rode about 1 and a half loops at McFarland park Saturday morning. I went in closer to the visitor center so didn't see the trail map and kind of flailed around trying to make sense of the trails, there seemed to be lots of them not meant for bikes. I eventually ended up back at the parking lot and then noticed a trail map. I had been on about half the trails so I took a second loop, went down by the river and then took the outer most loop through the forest and then through the field and back to the visitor center. It doesn't look like the trails are used much by bikes. It would be a fun trail if there was more single track and less wide gravely or grassy trails.

    On Sunday I tried to find the Sycamore trail in Des Moines. I started right along the river at Euclid on the west side of the bridge and went north along the river bottom. It looked like the trail was used mostly by four wheelers. I think I saw two sets of tire tracks heading north. I had never ventured that deep into the forest when I was a kid so it was fun to ride along the river. Then I popped out onto the paved rails to trail. I road that for a few miles thinking I would see a dirt trail again but never did. I've looked at the maps online and I'm not positive I was actually on the sycamore trail unless that is what they call the paved trail. I couldn't find any trail maps in the area. On the way back I explored the old brick factory area and was amazed at the size of the trees around the quarry.
    Is that a private park or something now. There were No Trespassing signs around the lake.
    This is the map that I thought was for the sycamore trail.
    http://www.conservationboard.org/images/SycamoreTrail_withKey.png

  9. #9
    jsg
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    The Brickyard is basically gone, the land is being developed as some sort of Asian community center. The Sycamore trail is easiest to find just north of the tunnel under I-80. It's in better shape than in past years. Any locals feel free to correct me on this stuff.

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