DES MOINES, Iowa – With the arrival of spring break and warmer temps, trails in central Iowa are starting their busy season already.

What’s new in 2022 for those trail users? A lot.

Let’s start with a new trail and the first step to connecting Lake Red Rock’s Volksweg Trail to the Des Moines Metro. While that connection is years away, in 2022 Monroe will be connected to Prairie City and the Neal Smith Wildlife Refuge. Jasper County Conservation Director Keri VanZante is excited to bring a “long skinny park”, about 10 miles long, to this part of the county. VanZante expects heavy use by walkers and skaters in addition to cyclists because of the lack of good sidewalks in the small communities on the trail. Work will begin in April and finish by the end of summer on the first phase, Monroe to Prairie City, with the second phase running to Mitchellville beginning as soon as funding is in place. VanZante thinks the second phase could start in 2023 or 2024, depending on grants and other fundraising.

In Polk County, work is already underway to replace the bridge over Beaver Creek on the Trestle to Trestle Trail. This bridge replaces one destroyed by ice in 2020. The new bridge comes with a price tag of $2 million and includes an overlook area and other features reminiscent of the original trestle-style bridge. Construction here should be done by fall of 2022. Until then be sure to give the construction crews plenty of space. Watch the progress here.

Polk County is also replacing a tunnel on the Great Western Trail, at Maffitt Lake Road. There’s a bypass route in place now and, again, look for this project to finish by fall of 2022.

The fall of 2022 is a theme here. That’s also when Dallas County Conservation Director Mike Wallace expects the next phase of the High Trestle Trail Connector to be finished. This phase, about a mile long,  connects the trail in place at the western edge of Woodward to the Woodward Trailhead on the north edge of downtown Woodward. Fundraising for the Let’s Connect project continues with a new route following Beaver Creek east of Perry instead of following the road there. When the remaining 4 miles is complete a 120-mile loop will be complete, from Perry to Jamaica to Panora to Adel to Waukee to Des Moines then to Pleasant Hill, Ankeny, Slater and Madrid before Woodward and back to Perry.

Warren County has Covid19 Relief Recreational Trail Program money they will use to resurface about 2 miles of the Great Western Trail just south of Cumming. Again, completion by fall of 2022.

In Des Moines there will be work on levees and the Iowa Water Trail project that will affect Carl Voss, the Meredith and the John Pat Dorrian Trails at different times before fall. Reconstruction of about 5000 feet of the Neal Smith Trail, from Euclid north to the Saylor Creek bridge will begin in the spring. This section will be widened to 10’ and will include some signage and places to sit for the 500,000 users this section of trail sees every year. Check here before you plan a ride or text DSMTRAILS to 84483 for updates.

Story County Conservation will be upgrading signage on the Heart Of Iowa Nature Trail in 2022.