A riverside playground for those who like it fast.



Sycamore Trails are fast, flowing singletrack that weaves through old growth forest along the west side of the Des Moines River. The trails are generally easy riding and many adults and children frequent the trails. It is open to walkers, joggers, runners and dogs on leashes - so be considerate of these other trail users.

The two major trail sections are bisected by Interstate 80 - Sycamore North and Sycamore South.

Typically, if someone simply refers to "Sycamore" they are meaning the north side and refer to "Sycamore South" explicitly.


Sycamore North

Parking is available on the south side of NW 66th Ave in Johnston (northern suburb of Des Moines) just to the west of the Des Moines River crossing.

From Des Moines (from the south) - take Beaver Avenue north out of Des Moines until it runs into NW 66th. Hang a right and head east down NW 66th Ave. After passing the soccer fields you will reach the entrance to the parking lot just before the Des Moines River. The parking lot will be on your right (south side).

From Ankeny (from the north) - take NW 26th St south off Oralabor until it runs into NW 66th Ave. Hang a right and cross the river. Immediately after crossing the river the gravel parking lot will be on your left (south side).

Sycamore South

Parking is available at the Polk County Building on Euclid Ave (2353 Euclid Ave) in Des Moines.

On the east side of the Polk County parking lot you will see signs for the Trestle Trail trailhead. The Trestle Trail is a paved trail that runs through Des Moines. However, you're looking for dirt. Get on the Trestle Trail and head toward the river. While looking toward the river (eastward) you'll see, on your left, singletrack disappearing into the woods - that's what you want.

Getting Between the Two

From Sycamore North: North ultimately dumps you out onto the paved Trestle Trail near the Beaverdale Little League park. Head south on the tarmac to the Tai Village (a pond / old quarry) south of I-80. The entrance to South is on the left-side of the trail at the pond.

From Sycamore South: South ultimately dumps you onto the paved Trestle Trail near the Tai Village (old quarry). Head north ("right" when you come off the singletrack) and cross under interstate. Just over the bridge that spans Beaver Creek (just north of I-80) you will see two singletrack drop-ins to Sycamore North. Proceed to drop-in, and have a blast.

Facilities & Services

There are no facilities or services at Sycamore.

Trail Segments

West Trail

Length: ?
Challenge: Easy to Moderate

This segment leaves the north lot on the west side. A tight ribbon of singletrack, it winds between the trees before merging onto Top shelf.

top shelf

Length: 2.4 miles
Challenge: Easy to Moderate

Top Shelf runs the western edge of the trails. It ultimately reaches Beaver Creek on the south, veers westward along Beaver Creek along the levee until it runs into the Trestle Trail. You can easily turn around at the Trestle Trail and loop back to your start via the Sycamore Trail.

sycamore trail

Length: ? miles
Challenge: Easy to Moderate

Sycamore Trail leaves the north lot on the east side and runs closet to the Des Moines River and Beaver Creek. Two branches off Sycamore take you onto the Lake Loop and the Pump trail.

Lake Loop

Length: ? miles
Challenge: Easy to Moderate

The Lake Loop connects to the Sycamore Trail at Fish Camp (where Beaver Creek meets the Des Moines River) and joins Top Shelf on the northwest side of the lake. The loop runs along the levee above Sycamore Trail and then down around the lake.

Pump Trail

Length: ? miles
Challenge: Moderate

An inner loop of pump track trails branches off Sycamore Trail just north of Fish Camp, before the big log over on the Sycamore Trail. Fast ups and downs and quick turns allows for some fun flowing extension to the main trails.

high life

Length: ? miles
Challenge: Easy

A short inner loop off Top Shelf weaves in and out of the trees.