The trails at Banner may be the most fun and most feared trails in central Iowa. Banner Lakes is the site of an old strip mine and many of the trails there are built on the piles of tailings. On the northern trails (Coal Miners Daughter, New Ed Beach
, Missing Link
, Corner Pocket
and Extra Credit
) you'll always find yourself going up, going down, or going around a tight corner very often at least two of those at once, and maybe on slightly loose rock or going over a bridge to boot.
The beginners trail (Riverside
) is on the south side of the main lake and is great for kids or for adding a recovery mile to your ride. In the Summer of 2012, a group of architecture students from Iowa State University designed and constructed wooden technical trail features in an area near the end of Coal Miners Daughter.
Pit toilets available. Toilet paper availability is a crap shoot - bring your own or take your chances.
Gunshots are often heard from the shooting range east of the trails.
The ride begins with Coal Miner's Daughter
just across the road from the eastern edge of the entrance parking area. The hillside tread combined with snug turns and punchy ascents and descents demands your full attention.
The wooden technical skills section is at the end of Coal Miner's Daughter
. The final piece of trail can be omitted to drop into the skills section via a short expert level segment. Otherwise, the skills area is easily entered at the bottom after the big rock where the trail flattens.
(There is a bail out option here to a small parking area. From the parking area go left and then another left onto Elk Horn St which will return you to the entrance parking area.)
There is a relaxing flat straight away piece before the right hand entrance to New Ed Beach
. Get out of your big gears quickly because New Ed Beach
begins with a solid climb. This trail has many short rollers and a few short climbs. It ends with a naturally bermed left hand turn that takes you down from the ridge and into Missing Link
. (At this point there is an option to bail out onto the road and take a right to return to the entrance parking lot. Do not be confused by a parking area you'll see off to the left as you ride along the road. You must continue straight on the road and around the right hand bend, past another parking area, around a left hand bend and then you'll be at the entrance parking lot where you started.)
wiggles along parallel to the road just inside the trees then pops out onto the road. Go left here for a few feet and climb the entrance to Corner Pocket
is aptly named as it is not only tucked in a corner of the park, but twists and turns as if one is trying to quadruple bank a ball and sink it in a corner pocket. The amount of trail packed in this area is amazing. Equally amazing is that it still can be ridden smoothly. The fun of this trail is punctuated with a gravity cavity style switchback section.
exits onto the paved park road again. Go left and ride in the bike lane about 1/2 mile until reaching the Riverside
entrance off to the left. (Bail out option is to go right on pavement when exit Corner Pocket
and follow the road past the Missing Link
bail out point and on to the entrance parking lot as described previously.)
is a beginner friendly big ring trail. It winds along the southern aspect of the park near the river, then heads north. At the very end it turns east and pops out onto the paved park road.
Go left on the park road. You are now heading back toward the entrance parking lot. Do not be confused by the parking area off to the right. This is not where you began. Continue to the T-intersection, turn left and ride in the bike lane on the right hand side of the road.
is next in line. The future entrance for Extra Credit
will be just a bit to the left of the T-intersection on the right hand side of the road. Currently the entrance is farther down the paved road and just around the bend. You'll appreciate the short break through Riverside
when the climbing and swooping returns in Extra Credit
. As it is with most of Banner Lakes' trails, Extra Credit
packs a lot of trail in a small area but still flows right along.
exits onto the paved road again. Head to the right in the bike lane and follow the road around the bend to the entrance parking lot where you started. Do not be confused by the parking area near the Extra Credit
You can also choose to forego your Extra Credit
points for the day and continue on the paved road to the entrance parking lot. Remember, the parking area near Extra Credit
exit is not where you started.
Banner Lakes is the site of an old strip mine and many of the trails there are built on the piles of tailings.