Sunday, June 10, 2012

Jordan Creek Trail

QT now sells Tisdale wine, normally $3 a bottle at Fareway or Hy Vee.  Some of it is actually from Italy.  Need a cork screw.  Location: 63rd and railroad, Vally Junction, WDM.

Visited Jordan Creek mall via bicycle today.  On map it is an easy ride.  The Jordan Creek Trail takes one right there on paper.  New Central Iowa Trails sign posts are located in strategic spots to help people unfamiliar with the trail.  The trail possess its own mile markers and 911/GPS signs are located on this path.

This is West Des Moines premier trail.  From it smaller trails feed off to residential and business areas.  JCT also connects with the Des Moines metro trail system at the Walnut Creek/Bill Riley Trail on its eastern terminus.  Small feeder neighborhood trails connect it north to the Clive Greenbelt Trail.

Because it serves as the backbone of the WDM trail system it is confusing and requires repeated visits to master.  The Greater Des Moines Regional Trails map is a basic guide.  I never bother to use Google Maps on my phone.  Mary and I have joked about a can of spray paint and an ubersized Sharpie to mark our turns and warn of our mistakes.  "WRONG TURN!!!"

Despite deriving its name from the Jordan Creek that the trail follows at points and the family that back in the day brought federal $$ into Iowa and supported the Underground Railroad, the terrain it traverses is a mix of shaded tree lined areas to suburban sprawl to industrial.  Not a looker as far as trails go.  Definitely a trail to get a biker from Point A to Point B.  Today's target: Jordan Creek Mall/Towncenter.

Mary and I have ridden out here several times.  Maybe once or twice a year.  The trail was here in 2001 according to my old INH trail guide.  I recall riding this with Dave Hatcher back when he lived in Valley Junction.  A decade or so ago there was really no reason for me to visit the trail.  It lead to nowhere I needed to be.  Jordan Creek Mall and the suburbanization of WDM has changed that. Well, not really, it is not essential that I visit JCM or the newest Bike World.  More good cropland turned into consumer urban sprawl.  New and pretty and exciting, all the bells and whistles of a brand new American car that in 15 to 20 years will look like shit unless it is taken care of.  Perhaps in 30 years Adel will have the latest and greatest shopping area.  As Erika Githens once said, no reason to go past Valley Junction.  Yeah, there is a little bit of socialist in me.  tiny but there nonetheless.

So we grabbed our current commuters and got on the trail at Mullets exactly .5 mile from our home on Des Moines southside.  We took this past Gray's Lake and into Water Works Park, crossed the Raccoon River and got on the Bill Riley Trail proper.  We took a left where Riley meets Walnut Creek trail and rode this to the end at the QT on 63rd.

Nice surprise here as they finally laid the trail connection from the QT to the light south of railroad.  Here there is a button to seize the right of way and cross 63rd and get on the JC trail.  This section is out in the open and if the wind is from the south there will be a strong crosswind.  This section leads to the Raccoon River Park.  But first it passes an industrial zone of concrete and cement works.  It is tempting to continue past this and into the park but the JC turns right to cross Fuller Rd.

Look for these signs

This seemed busy on a Sunday afternoon, a mixture of cars and SUVs and work trucks.  This section is noticeably older.  Aging asphalt trail reminiscent of the John Pat Dorrian Trail but a few years newer.  Cracks and weeds.  We rode by a man walking as his youngster rode a bike with training wheels.  Eventually we hit Grand Ave and turned right.  Although we passed a few Central Iowa Trails signs we made the unmarked counter intuitive move to turn right and head in what seemed like the opposite direction we needed to go.  Mary has a bit more experience out here than I do.  We did, however, last year turn left and got nowhere fast.

Crossing Grand the trail soon parallels  EP True.  The scenery s of apartment buildings and townhouses and suburbia.  Nothing remarkable.  Intersections are rough as the trail seems to be an afterthought of city planning on a budget.  Front suspension would have been nice here.  On the other hand, no one was training for the big race of the triathlon like they do on the trails we normally live.  There were a few people on bikes.

Now the trail gets tricky.  There are a number of tunnels to cross major roads.  Often when we emerged we had to loop around to find the right trail.  Sometimes it seemed that we needed to go in the awkward direction for 15 yards to find the next tunnel to cross again.  So it was at 50th Street.  We even looked at the sign that indicated that we needed to turn right.  And when we did we entered the tunnel and crossed EP True and immediately knew we made the same mistake as last year.  But we continued for some unknown reason and discovered that this was the way to the latest bike World.  A little road action and we were on the outskirts of Jordan Creek Towncenter.

Using visual confirmation we took a mix of road and sidewalk to get to Scheels.  No issue with cars.  But no bike rack once we got there.  yep, they sell bikes but if you ride a bike that you purchased from them you had to be creative in parking it.  Or brave.  Or both.  Mary said something about a bike rack possibly somewhere else but I decided the benches were good enough to secure our aluminum steeds to.  Yeah, a bronze statute of Ronald Reagan dressed as John Wayne but no bicycle parking.

What the hell, better parking than if we drove there.

After conducting business we rolled away differently that we came in.  Mary said there was a tunnel.  And I remember that tunnel.  I think Brad Overhoser was with us on that journey but this time we could not find it.  Instead we found the trail and went the wrong way, too far north.  We would have had to hop a curb to get where we wanted to anyway.  But once we turned around we were where we needed to be and where we should have been on the incoming trip.  I photographed the sign marking our mistake.  Bent arrow means skip tunnel and turn at the road.

Eventually we will learn this trail system.  But it may be a slow process as the trail leads to place only designed to exchange money for goods and services.  Not a trail to enjoy for its own sake.  I located Trader Joe's on this trip.  Cheap wine.  I may be back sooner than you think.  31 miles, wrong turns and all.

1 comment:

  1. I live in Valley Junction and think that once you hit 63rd and railroad, its easier to just take ep true straight to the mall. Saves a lot of time.