Jun 4, 2021 - Sports

How to get around Des Moines' Water Works trail closure

Trail closed sign by Des Moines Water Works.

If you were hoping to bike Des Moines' downtown and go through Water Works Park — you'll have to wait until the end of July because of a major trail closure.

Why it matters: Frequent flooding has caused structural damage to the trail, specifically at the railroad underpass.

Where it's at: The Bill Riley Trail, starting from the wooden bridge in Water Works up to the intersection where you can head toward Ingersoll and Ashworth Pool.

The problem: The city didn't provide an official detour, saying they couldn't offer a safe alternative that was accessible to everyone.

  • It's also happening all at once, meaning the whole thing will be closed for two months.

The state of play: A project to repair the trail was originally scheduled for the winter, but securing construction permits took longer than expected, said Jen Fletcher of Des Moines Parks and Rec.

  • Delaying it further could result in additional damage, a more expensive fix and a longer closure.

Yes, but: Once it's done, that section of trail should hopefully flood less, resulting in fewer closures.

We crowdsourced some alternatives if you're going west to east, or the other way.

  • Ingersoll Avenue is always available, but be aware that construction makes it challenging to pass for less-experienced cyclists.
  • For an easier route, ride on Ingersoll to Woodland Avenue or High Street, where there's less traffic but some hills.
  • For minimal traffic but more climb, head through Waterbury, cross the pedestrian bridge by Roosevelt and ride north to Kingman Boulevard. Connect with Cottage Grove and then head down MLK or ride through Sherman Hill. See our map here.

Be aware: If you're a driver, keep note there will likely be more bikers on Ingersoll and Grand these next two months.


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