Type: Nature Trail

Length: 26 miles

Surface: Paved

Sycamore Access North has been re-paved in 2010 and is smooth although some linear cracks are starting to appear in the center of the trail. Des Moines to Sycamore Access is rough is certain areas and scheduled for a re-pave 2014/2015.


Above Average

Grade - Rolling Mild Hills



Enjoy the natural scenic beauty of this 26 mile multipurpose trail that extends from Des Moines through the Saylorville Lake area to Big Creek State Park. Names after former U.S. Congressman Neal Smith from Iowa, the Neal Smith Trail is a designated National Recreational Trail that allows for year round outdoor activities, including hiking, biking, running, roller blading, snow shoeing, and cross country skiing.

In addition to the recreational opportunities, the trail showcases mature forest, rolling prairie, oak savannas, and panoramic views of Saylorville Lake.

PDF Map of Trail by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Thirteen miles of this trail are managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers with the remaining miles managed by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and the City of Des Moines.

The trail that the City of Des Moines maintains is plowed when it snows. The rest of the trail is unplowed when there is snowfall.

This is one of BIKEIOWA's favorite trails to ride. We like the rolling hills, swoopy turns and great views.

 If the river is above 13 feet (flood stage) parts of the trail will be underwater. You can check the river height here:

Location - Where is this Trail?

The trail starts in Des Moines, and goes on the East end of Sayloville Lake to Big Creek State Park Central Iowa.


There are at least 13 trail heads offer trail access and have room for parking.

Sites & Attractions

Mature forest, rolling prairie, oak savannas, and panoramic views of Saylorville Lake

The Saylorville Lake Marina is a great place to stop for food & drink, or stop at the Caseys in Polk City or venture into Polk City for more eating and drinking establishments

Big Creek State Park offers a beach, and food & drink (in season only)

Des Moines offers all sorts of amenities from lodging to food & drink and night-life activities.

You can venture on-road East from Big Creek State Park approx. 3 miles to connect with the High Trestle Trail

History of the Trail

Future Plans

Planned Mileage: 0 miles -


The following members have contributed to the above Trail content.

This trail was last edited by thskadow on Apr 26, 2019.

Upcoming Events

Shiver on The River

19 Saturday Feb 2022
  • Des Moines, IA
  • Destination
  •    34


Past Events

Vinyl Bingo Wednesday with BIKEIOWA at Captain Roy's

10 Wednesday Nov 2021
  • Des Moines, IA
  • Destination
  •    450

Kyle's Bikes E-Bike Demo Event

24 Sunday Oct 2021
  • Ankeny, IA
  • Expo/Sales/Swap
  •    460

FFFing Ride

26 Sunday Sep 2021
  • Polk City, IA
  • Trail Ride
  •    362

Kyle's Bikes Annual Parking Lot Sale 2021

24 Friday Sep 2021 - 26 Sunday Sep 2021
  • Ankeny, IA
  • Expo/Sales/Swap
  •    1,314

Handlebar Happy Hour - Captain Roy's ft. Bike Belles!

19 Sunday Sep 2021
  • Des Moines, IA
  • Expo/Sales/Swap
  •    819

FFFing Ride

12 Sunday Sep 2021
  • Ankeny, IA
  • Trail Ride
  •    689

Future of Biking in Johnston

22 Thursday Jul 2021
  • Johnston, IA
  • Safety/Education/Training
  •    645

Kyle's Bikes Big Ride Repair Event

17 Saturday Jul 2021
  • Ankeny, IA
  • Other
  •    619

Jersey Ride 3.0

10 Saturday Jul 2021
  • Polk City, IA
  • Party Ride
  •    1,026

Firetrucker Dan's Memorial Ride - Day 1

5 Saturday Jun 2021
  • Des Moines, IA
  • Trail Ride
  •    2,728

Ride To Break The Stigma

5 Saturday Jun 2021
  • Ankeny, IA
  • Party Ride
  •    1,843

2nd annual Bike to the Des Moines Renaissance Faire

14 Friday May 2021 - 16 Sunday May 2021
  • Des Moines, IA
  • Destination
  •    1,288

FirstPrevPage 1 of 36NextLast
Feature Features Image

Remembering Neal Smith: Passing along a love of nature

  • Ryan Smith
  • Tue November 30 2021
  •   376
Feature Features Image

2020 - BIKEIOWA Year In Review

  • bikeiowa
  • Sun December 20 2020
  •   2,893
Feature Features Image

Small Business Saturday 2020 - SHOP LOCAL

  • bikeiowa
  • Fri November 27 2020
  •   3,293
Feature Features Image

Trailside Tap joins as a Premier BIKEIOWA Sponsor

  • bikeiowa
  • Fri October 9 2020
  •   2,087
Review Features Image

Friday Fives Ep. 19 Sept 25th 2020

  • bikeiowa
  • Sun September 27 2020
  •   2,514
Feature Features Image

RynoVelo joins as a new BIKEIOWA Sponsor

  • bikeiowa
  • Mon August 31 2020
  •   2,035
Review Features Image

FRIDAY FIVES - EP.14 - August 21st 2020

  • bikeiowa
  • Fri August 28 2020
  •   1,464
Feature Features Image

Tour de Recho - Disaster Relief and Virtual Ride

  • bikeiowa
  • Fri August 21 2020
  •   1,551
Review Features Image

FRIDAY FIVES - EP.1 - May 22 2020

  • bikeiowa
  • Sat May 30 2020
  •   1,253
Feature Features Image

The Pig n Pedal joins as a Premier BIKEIOWA Sponsor

  • bikeiowa
  • Mon February 24 2020
  •   2,216

Edit Trail

Members of the BIKEIOWA Community can update Trail information. We figure that YOU may know more about the Trail than WE do.


Latest Neal Smith Trail News

FirstPrevPage 1 of 25NextLast

Browse by City

view cities along this trail

Connecting Trails

Iowa By Trail

As of approximately 7:15am this morning there was a fallen tree blocking the path between the I-35 underpass and Morningstar Drive access. The tree isn't big enough to keep most from climbing over with their bike, but too big to move off the path alone.

#1 - twodog posted Jul 19, 2016

Leave a Comment

You must be signed in to leave a comment.