Twelve Miles 'Til Tea Time

With a few extra hours in my day and weather uncharacteristic to February, I packed the handlebar bag and set out for Minburn.  It's one of the sleepier towns along the Raccoon River Valley trail with a handful of houses, a grain elevator (of course) and a tiny "downtown".  A bit of planning is required if choosing Minburn as a stopping point as trail amenities are scarce. 

The ride was as lovely as the weather.  Spring technically isn't here yet but hearing a Meadow Lark sing and seeing a turtle sunning itself in the warm sunshine indicated otherwise.  

The Iron Giant cruised along nicely.  I have been very happy with the change of handlebars I made late last year.  Recently I removed the pedal cages and so far have been pleased with that decision as well.  I suspect the next downsizing will involve the bike computer.  I find it unnecessary to be constantly reminded of my slow speeds.  The only useful information it does relay is how many miles until break time.  In this instance, it was twelve 'til tea.  

Yorkshire tea and Voortman Almond Krunch cookies were enjoyed at the Minburn town square. The trail mix ended up making the return trip home. 

Happy Riding!

Close to Completion - A Ride to Minburn

The Trail

The "Raccoon" or RRVT, is the bike trail I most frequently ride.  For me, the link between Waukee and Minburn is perfect for a fitness ride.  The Raccoon River Valley trail is also a great trail for long rides.  Trailside towns are less than 10 miles apart and provide good options for where to start/stop a ride or to take a break. The trail provides a variety of scenery ranging from open farmland to wooded areas flanking rivers and creeks. Riders 18 and up are required to a user fee of $2 a day or $10 for a year.  Strong boxes are located at trailheads for purchasing trail permits. 

Trail Map

Trail Information

The Ride

This was a fitness ride from Waukee to Minburn.  A ride with some fast intervals and a couple of burnt calories.  

Arriving in Minburn I stopped to take a quick photo of the work on the train depot.   Things are coming along very nicely!  According to a local resident, they are crossing their fingers it will be open on May 16th.  The cafe is scheduled to open the following week.  

Pedaling through town, two previously unnoticed points of interest caught my eye.  The first was a metal container outside the American Legion used to dispose old American flags.  I didn't look inside to see if there were any in there.  Should have!  Across the street was something else I had never noticed before.  Encased in brick is an millstone used in Minburn back in 1883.  Now it's a symbol for building good character.  How cool! 

The ride back to Waukee was uneventful other than seeing a cat hiding in the brush along the trail.  I stopped to chat, but it just stared back.

Approaching Waukee I picked up biking litter to to later dispose of at the trailhead.  I don't understand those who obviously had room in their jersey or bag for a used tube or gel pouch but chose to liter instead.  

Happy (Litter Free) Riding!

The Raccoon River Valley Trail - A Ride to Minburn

The Trail

89 miles of opportunity makes The Raccoon River Valley Trail a great trail for putting some significant mileage in.  Trailside towns are less than 10 miles apart and provide good options for where to start/stop a ride or to take a break.  The newest segment runs between Waukee and Perry with the towns of Dallas Center and Minburn in between.  This link of trail is very flat and in excellent condition. Between Waukee and DC it is more out in the open but once past Dallas Center trees flank the trail for the remaining ride. Riders 18 and up are required to a user fee of $2 a day or $10 for a year.  Strong boxes are located at trailheads for purchasing trail permits.

Trail Map 

Trail Information

The Ride

With the Waukee trailhead only a few blocks from home "The Raccoon" is my go-to trail.  I’ve ridden it so many times this year I’ve lost count!  My plan for this ride was to start from home and travel Northwest to Minburn.  I was curious to see how the trailhead development was...developing.  

Just outside of Waukee I was disappointed to find vandalism to one of the trail stop signs.  Putting my disgust aside I made my way down the trail.

It was a pretty morning on the trail.  Wild plums were ripening, the Iowa corn fields were in their glory, and a flock of geese was splashing around in a farm field puddle.

I stopped in Dallas Center and couldn't resist leaning the Iron Giant against one of the grain towers for a photo op.  It did a good job putting the enormity of Iowa’s skyscrapers into perspective. How many Iron Giants would it take to reach the top?  

North of Highway 44 I greeted a fellow trail user.  Finally!!!  I had come across someone slower than me!

The trailhead project in Minburn was coming along nicely.  Despite it being Sunday, a gentleman was doing some brickwork on the old depot that had recently been moved closer to the trail.  MInburn has over $1m planned for their trailside contribution to The Raccoon River Valley Trail.  Not too shabby for a town with a population of 400.

Wide Open Spaces


  • Lucky me!  The trail head for today’s ride was my home in Waukee.  If you’re not fortunate enough to live close by to the trail, the new Waukee trail head is a perfect spot to kick things off.  There are restrooms, a drinking fountain, and also a picnic area.

  • This concrete trail segment is very new and in perfect condition.  It has very minimal grades and is very smooth.  The gravel road crossings are also concrete and trail shoulders are well groomed.

  • This segment of the trail travels through wide open spaces of Iowa farmland.  At times I felt like I was pedaling through a sea of corn.  Trees flank the trail but are at a distance that results in very minimal tree canopy.


  • This trail is not one for those who dislike riding in the Iowa winds. However if you prefer riding out in the open and being able to see long distances, it’s a perfect fit.

  • Riders are required to pay $2.00 a day to ride the Raccoon.  If a person plans riding the Raccoon more than 3 times in a year it makes sense to purchase a yearly pass.  A permit strong box is located at the Waukee trail head.


  • A new rest stop is now located ½ way to Dallas Center.  I pulled over here and put on some gloves since it was such a chilly morning.

  • Dallas Center’s trail head made for a great stop for a mid-ride stretch and water break


  • Just outside of Waukee I saw local celebrity Heidi Soliday out on a ride with a friend.

  • A squadron of pelicans were floating in the air out on a cruise.

  • Just before you reach Minburn there's a lone corn crib out in a field to the northeast of the trail .  It’s such an iconic scene and a great photo op.

  • Many of the towns along the Raccoon trail have old train stations.  Dallas Center’s station is now home to offices of a local law firm.  Minburn’s station is anxiously awaiting planned restoration.  


  • I didn't pack a snack today, and boy was I regretting it on the way back!  The Korner Kone (just off the trail in Dallas Center) was calling my name on the return trip.  As tempting as it was to pull in and grab lunch I headed back home for my lunch.  Next time I’ll remember to bring along a snack.



Minburn to Dawson

Trail:  Raccoon River Valley - Minburn to Dawson


Date: 8-14-13

Time: Morning

Weather: 70 degrees, Sun, Slight Breeze

Mileage: 26


  • This is a great concrete trail. It's smooth with very slight grades, cement gravel road crossings and nicely groomed trail shoulders.

  • I couldn't miss the beautiful scenes of Iowa farmland between Minburn and Perry. It was an ocean of green. 

  • Perry and Dawson have clean and comfortable pit stop facilities .


  • Minburn lacks nice trail head facilities, but in a pinch you could the public library might be available.

  • Use caution when crossing 4 lanes of busy highway when reaching Perry.

  • Keep an eye open for green painted trail arrows on sidewalks downtown Perry.

  • Be prepared for the smell behind the Tyson plant in Perry. It's pretty gross.  I tried holding my breath for as long as possible.  It didn't help.

  • The inside the restored train station in Dawson has some historical displays to check out.


  • I "check out" the public library in Perry at the corner of Willis and 1st Avenue. I'm a sucker for a nice library.  

  • The Racoon river bridge west of Perry was a fun stop for taking a few pictures.

  • I took a break at the Dawson trail station. It was very quiet in town that day.  I felt like I was the only person around.


  • Lots of Iowa’s wildflowers were in bloom along the trail between Minburn and Perry.

  • I was so lucky to hear the call of a Bobwhite Quail East of Perry.  This is why I don't use ear buds or head phones while riding.  Nature provides the best playlist.

  • I spotted a cute fisherman statue outside of Minburn. in the dusty lot of the local ag co-op.


  • During my break  in Dawson I snacked on some sweet and chewy homemade oatmeal chocolate chip cookies.  They hit the spot and were a nice treat after a solid 13 miles of pedaling.