New Bike Trail Project East of Metro Hopes to Bring Riders to Jasper County

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PRAIRIE CITY, Iowa- Excitement is growing around this area as a new bike trail project is getting underway.

The Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation has identified an abandoned railroad bed from Mitchellville to Monroe as a bike trail which will serve as a link from the metro area of Des Moines, eventually down to Red Rock Lake, and Pella.

“Tremendously exciting project for us,” said Jeff Davidson, Hometown Community Pride Coach, for Keep Iowa Beautiful. “This is a regional rail trail the old Rock Island spur track that we are converting to a recreational trail between Monroe, through Prairie City over to the Des Moines Metro to hook up with Gay Lee Wilson Trail in Altoona.”

The project is being worked on by Jasper County Conservation which is getting ready to pave the first phase from Monroe to Prairie City and out to the Neal Smith Wildlife Refuge.

“We had the roads here re-paved back in 2015-16, said Scott Gilje, who is Refuge Manager. “We had our inaugural Pedal the Prairie event we had over 800 people come out here for a one-day event.”

The Refuge expected only around 200 people to come. Recently at the Bike Expo announcing the RAGBRAI route around 600 people stopped by the Refuge booth to ask about the next Pedal the Prairie which will happen May 20th.

There is no timetable as to when the trail will be open. The stretch from Mitchellville to Altoona will have to be routed away from the rail line, as that is still in use for rail service.

“These projects don't get done in one year it's gonna take us a while, but we have a plan now that's the first step,” said Davidson. “We’ll focus on the segment between Monroe, into Prairie City into the Wildlife Refuge.

“The Mitchellville segment has some grant funding to begin phased design and construction, but not near enough to complete making it uncertain to know when it will be open,” said Andrea Boulton, Trails Manager for Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation. “However, the long-term goal of many is to link Saylorville and Lake Red Rock, these projects get us much closer!”