High Trestle Trail

Length 25 miles
Surface paved (concrete and asphalt) surface from Woodward to Ankeny
Connecting Trails Heart of Iowa Nature Trail
Hours all hours
Fees no fees
Counties Polk, Boone
Cities Woodward, Madrid, Slater, Sheldahl, Ankeny.
About this trail

This trail runs for 25 miles through five towns (Ankeny Sheldahl, Slater, Madrid and Woodward), and through Polk, Story, Boone and Dallas counties. The trail includes a 1/2- mile, 13-story high bridge across the Des Moines River valley, one of the largest trail bridges in the world.

Due to the popularity of the trail between Madrid and Woodward, the City of Madrid and Boone County require a permit (free) for organized events on the High Trestle Trail pavement, right of way, or trailhead in their jurisdictions. To obtain the appropriate permit(s), please e-mail or call at least two weeks in advance:
- Todd Kilzer, City of Madrid, cityofmadrid@iowatelecom.net, 515-795-3930, and/or
- Andy Hockenson at the Boone County Conservation Board, bccb@wccta.net, 515-353-4237

Background on the High Trestle Trail and bridge:

  • The High Trestle Trail is built on a former railroad bed, previously owned by Union Pacific Railroad.
  • The trail is famous for its 13-story and 1/2 mile long bridge over the Des Moines River, located between Madrid and Woodward in Boone County.
  • There are six overlooks on the bridge with interpretive panels that highlight the region's cultural and natural history.
  • The trail was designed by Snyder & Associates. The bridge was designed by Snyder & Associates and Shuck-Britson, Inc.. The artistic enhancements were designed by Dahlquist Art Studios/ RDG Planning & Design
  • At each end of the ½ mile long bridge are four 42’ tall artistic towers. The dark bands represent geologic coal veins found in area limestone deposits
  • 41 steel “frames” over the bridge represent support cribs within an historic coal mine
  • Interpretive information panels are located on the bridge and at the overlook



More Information
High Trestle Trail in American Trails magazine
Read the article about the High Trestle Trail by Lisa Hein, INHF Director of Program and Planning. Story online at American Trails.

High Trestle Trail
Trail Managers
City of Ankeny - (515) 963-3570 - e-mail
City of Madrid - 515-795-3930 - e-mail
City of Slater - 515-685-2531 - e-mail
City of Woodward - 515-438-2560
Resources From Other Sites
Polk County Conservation Board
This site site covers four facets of the trail: accessibility, facts and features, history and a narrative tour. No maps are provided.
Trails from Rails
This site has lots of pictures and a map displaying the towns the trail runs through. There is also a brief description and a list of each of the town’s amenities, such as hotels, restaurants and campgrounds.
Raccoon River Valley Trail Association
This very informative site provides extensive information about the trail. Maps, fee information, trail events, news, history and other recreational activities are expanded upon. An overview of surrounding communities is also provided, as well as other links you can visit.