Type: Mountain Bike

Length: 11 miles

Surface: Dirt

Great trail all year long, but sets in lowlands near the river and can get soft with very little moisture.


Above Average

Grade - Gentle Grades



This trail has been around for a long time and is separated into Northern and a Southern sections.  You'll have to take about a mile and a half of paved trail (Trestle to Trestle Trail) to connect.

CITA's trail description: Beginners will find this mostly flat, mostly wide, mostly smooth trail very welcoming. Small rocky sections, occasional log-overs, and a few short, punchy climbs offer challenges waiting to be mastered. Expert riders will want to try the “mosaic jump.” There is a BMX-style optional fun loop with lots of rollers. A new, more technical trail parallels part of the north end of the main Sycamore Trail and offers tighter trees, dips, turns, and roots.

This trail is very beginner-friendly, but can also be technical for the more experience riders.

There used to be one 7 miles route that was out and back, but in 2013, a loop was created on the North side that not only doubles the mileage on the North side, but offers alternate routes.

The majority of the trail is (almost) double-track except for the new North Loop which offers up some twisty single-track. The trail is mostly shaded with some open sections.

The trail is shared with joggers, hikers and an occasional fisherman.

MORE about Sycamore at CITA's website.

Here is a loop that uses the (paved) Neal Smith Trail for one half and Sycamore Access for the other.

Location - Where is this Trail?

The trail follows the west banks of the Des Moines River extending from from NW 66th Ave in Johnston to Euclid Ave in Des Moines.


There are two trailheads.

  1. NORTH: NW 66th Ave near Johnston. There is a small parking lot. If that is full, there is more parking across the river at the Neal Smith Trail and boat ramp areas,

  2. SOUTH: Called "Old Targhetto", but now is the Polk County River Place located at 2309 - 2339 Euclid Avenue in Des Moines

Sites & Attractions

The trail is rideable year round.

Local Fatbike traffic keeps the trails rideable in the Winter

History of the Trail

The Trail was built and is maintained by a local non-profit - Central Iowa Trails Association (CITA). Polk Country Conversation and the Army Corp of Engineers are the governing bodies for this trail.

Since the early 90's the trail was regularly used by dirt bikes and ATVs. Starting around 2010 mountain bikers and law have worked together to report motorized vehicles on the trail. Fines and a few confiscations occurred and the word got out that they were not welcome on the trail and it has been in much better shape ever since.

Since the trail reside near the river banks it is always susceptible to floods and wash outs and has been out of commission for several months at time.

Future Plans

Planned Mileage: 0 miles -


The following members have contributed to the above Trail content.

This trail was last edited by bikeiowa on Dec 27, 2014.

Upcoming Events

Pint Night Ride - DSM - CITA

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  • Des Moines, IA
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Embrace the Hills 2024

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Past Events

Central Iowa Trail Assocation (CITA) 25th Anniversary Party

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Monday Night No Drop Dirt Ride w/Lights at Sycamore

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Monday Night No Drop Dirt Ride w/Lights at Sycamore

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Monday Night No Drop Dirt Ride w/Lights at Sycamore

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Monday Night No Drop Dirt Ride w/Lights at Sycamore

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Monday Night No Drop (Dirt Ride) Sycamore Edition

5 Monday Jun 2023 - 26 Monday Jun 2023
  • Johnston, IA
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23 Tuesday May 2023
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Johnston Mayor's Annual Bike Ride

13 Saturday May 2023
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  •    1,274

Central Iowa Trail Assocation (CITA) Annual Member Party

11 Saturday Feb 2023
  • Des Moines, IA
  • Other
  •    1,413

CITA Monday Night Singletrack ride with lights

31 Monday Oct 2022
  • Johnston, IA
  • Mountain Biking
  •    1,123

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