First Ride of 2015

The Trail

The Raccoon River Valley trail is one of Iowa’s premier trails.  With 89 miles to ride and 15 communities to visit, it provides lots of route options for cyclists in central Iowa.  Each trailside community has it’s own trailhead.  Most are renovated train stations as this bike trail was once a railway.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 Raccoon River Valley Trail provides a variety of scenery ranging from open farmland to tree-lined tunnels of the wooded areas flanking rivers and creeks.

Trail Map

Trail Information

The Ride

After a day of binging on college football, appetizers, and snacks it was time to pay penance.  I was not about to go to the gym for a workout!  It’s bound to be very busy for the next 2-3 months with everyone working on their yearly resolutions.  So, off to the Raccoon River Valley Trail I went with plans of riding to Perry with a light breeze at my back.  

Out on the trail it was pretty cold I contemplated making it a short out-and-back from Dallas Center but decided to forgo being a wimp and keep pedaling.    I warmed up in no time.  My new fleece balaclava  likely had something to do with it.  By the time I reached Perry my toes would be frozen while the rest of me would be a sweaty mess.  Really??  You’d think by now I’d figure out the right clothing recipe for winter riding!  

The trail was quiet and I enjoyed having it all to myself.  I made a quick stop in Dallas Center to document my visit with the camera.  With the RRVT so close to home it’s my go-to trail.  I lost count of all the rides I took on this awesome trail in 2014.  Maybe this year I’ll actually keep track...or not.

Reaching Minburn I noted the progress being made on the train depot project.  It’s looking pretty snazzy with it’s refurbished brick and newly painted green trim. 

While hunting is prohibited on the trail, public hunting areas flank portions of the trail.   Between the trees northeast of Minburn I saw flashes of hunter orange .  I was out of gun range (I think) but was wishing I had brought along my orange vest to put on so I would be more visible.   

The gravel crossings on this portion of the trail have all be paved.  Crossing one of them I saw something I’d never witnessed on a bike ride before. Chocolates sprinkled among the rocks.  Was someone driving the gravel roads scarfing down candy only to reach a breaking point and tossed what remained of the box out the window?  Whatever the story, a scavenging animal is now in for a treat!

Reaching downtown Perry I parked the Iron Giant outside one of my favorite stores, Ben Franklin.  Growing up we would frequent the store in Nevada, spending way too much time deliberating in the candy aisle.  Sprees? Sugar Babies? Kit-Kat? Bit-O-Honey?  Like my hometown, the Perry store has  huge candy selection along with aisles of fun items to browse.  The store even has a downstairs area filled with fabrics, yarn, and other sewing notions.  

After leaving Ben Franklin I headed across the street for a hot cup of coffee.  Perry Perk is a family owned coffee shop with a wide variety of hot and cold beverages and baked goods.  I chose a cup of their daily house blend and and found a nice spot next to the window to sip and relax. A cozy coffee shop along the bike trail is always a good thing!

Happy Riding!

Pedaling to Perry

The Trail

With it’s 89 miles of trail The Raccoon River Valley trail is a great trail for putting significant mileage in on the bike.  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 super 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.

Trail Map

Trail Information

The Ride

The plan for the afternoon was to bike from Waukee to Perry, take my time and  just enjoy the ride.   

A thunderstorm had come through the night before leaving some debris on the trail.  Not to worry though, because only a short distance from Waukee an employee from Dallas County Conservation was sweeping the trail with a blower from the bed of his truck.

As many times as I’ve ridden the link from Waukee to "DC" you’d think it would get boring.  Nope! There’s always something to notice along the trail.  The changing seasons always provides the scenery with a new look and the different times of day shines light on things that had previously gone unnoticed.  For example, the truck abandoned along the trail was up to the wheel wells in weeds and the blue and white paint boldly stood out against the surrounding greens.

Another example of new sights along the trail was a newly constructed hog confinement.  This trailside addition will prove to be interesting on days where the wind is coming from the wrong direction!

Riding through Minburn I was pleased to see work on the the trailhead was underway.  The 100 year old depot will be moved and renovated to house a cafe and museum.  Great news for this little community!  Minburn is always fun to ride through because I get a kick out of waiving to the angler trying his best to get a bite.  Sure enough, he was still at it as I rode past.

Right before reaching Perry I took the trail spur to the Forest Park Museum and Arboretum and spent some time looking at the displays.  Read about my visit here.  

After getting my fill of local history, I decided it was time for a snack.  Downtown Perry I stopped in at Firehouse Ice Cream and was excited to see a soda fountain and jukebox inside.  

My trip to Perry went as planned.  It was a lot of fun visiting new places and enjoying another Iowa bike ride!

Happy Riding



  • Cyclists 18 and up are required to purchase a user fee of $2 a day or $10 for a year.  Strong boxes are located at trailheads for purchasing trail permits.
  • Use caution when crossing 4 lanes of highway when reaching Perry.
  • Keep an eye open for green painted trail arrows on sidewalks downtown Perry.

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.