Sunday, August 24, 2008


Riding and reviving the old Sycamore trail seems to be what and the cool - kids are doing these days. I hadn't ridden out there in a couple of years so Corey and I decided to hit up the old stomping grounds.

Sycamore starts, on its southern end, where the old Target store was on Euclid. Now there's a snazzy building of some kind. I think its governmental.

The trail winds along the Des Moines River for 7 miles until it reaches NW 66th Street in Johnson. This trailhead is just a few hundred yards from the Sycamore Access to the Neil Smith trail, so heading on up to Saylorville Lake is easy. You just need to do a couple of miles of paved goodness and tackle the winding hill, that we've always called "Grand Dad", and you're at the Visitor's Center.

Sycamore is super fast doubletrack. Its not technical at all save for an occasional rut or downed tree. You have to be careful/lucky not to break/bend a derailleur because there is usually a lot of debris on the trail. There's also sand. Sycamore has always sported plenty of misplaced beach. Since the flood there's more of it toward the southern end.Where's Misty May when you need her?

I was feeling a little guilty not pitching in to help revive Denman's, so we put in a pretty fair amount of trail work, clearing several obstacles along the way with our handy-dandy handsaws, Mean Green and Orange Crush.

After a couple miles you reach the old brickyard area. You can't miss it, there's a big rutted hill looming, just saying "climb me, there's fun trail up here".

You are kinda-sorta not supposed to ride up there anymore. The Tai Dam cultural group bought this land awhile back and strung up no trespassing signs. From what I've heard they mainly wanted to keep the motorcycles out, not us innocent bikers. The signs are gone so its probably okay to ride here a little as long as you don't do something stupid like take pictures and write about it on the internets. There's options: A, B and around the corner C and D. Option D isn't nearly as steep as these so we usually take it.

We will descend any of these options which registers high on the pucker factor meter.Here's option D:

Above the rocky hills it turns back to good ole' Iowa dirt. There are some very steep climbs back here. This stuff is fun for awhile, but it doesn't connect and flow too well. That, along with the kinda-sorta no supposed to be here factor, means we don't stay too long.

As I mentioned earlier we headed on up the NS trail to Saylorville Visitor Center. There's a nice observation deck with a view of the lake.

Off to the side there's a little nature trail. It seems these short loops are meant for hiking only but there isn't a sign prohibiting bikes soooooo... Its probably-maybe okay to ride here as long as you don't do something stoopid like take pictures and write about it on the internets.Here's yours truly about to take the plunge. These stairs used to activate my pucker, but not anymore.

Coming back up:

Toward the back of the little network there's a long railroad tie staircase. Going up no es posible; coming down es muy entretenida.

The Garmin said 20.37 miles with 1,551 feet of climbing. I was pretty tired after the ride because we were hauling the mail (fast) most of the trip. It was fun. Can't wait for the Spooky Woods Ride here this fall.

View Larger Map

As for the other kinda-sorta maybe not supposed to ride there parts of this report:

You didn't see anything.

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