Last summer, Sophia introduced me to the suburban guilty pleasure that is the Cascade Falls Aquatic Center in Ankeny. It’s one of those places you might not think about going until you have kids/a nanny job, but without any minor to watch over, it’s exponentially more fun.
There are water slides, diving boards, a lazy river — even a foam version of that lumberjack log roll! The best part: At adult swim, kids have to get out and the adults can cut in line for the slides and have the lazy river to ourselves. You can also pay extra to try a surf simulator. It’s hilarious to just watch people wipe out..
I’m not the kind of person who can just go on a 20 mile ride without a destination, so I suggested we try to bike to the Aquatic Center. Lo and behold: It’s super simple to get to the Cascade Falls Aquatic Center from central Des Moines using the trail system!
We caught the inter-urban trail up in Beaverdale, but it’s also easy to hop on from downtown. You cross the river on this great bridge; the Inter-Urban intersection is a hub for cyclists on a beautiful day.
The trail is pretty well-shaded for most of the route, and it runs past the river. On a hot day like yesterday, you can see lots of people partying on the banks.
(Not pictured: If you’re lucky like us, you can also see a 70-year old guy in only a Speedo bolt up the riverbank on a bike, right in front of you. Yowza!)
We took the ‘Ding Darling’ to the Neal Smith Trail for a bit before turning onto the Oralabor Gateway Trail, through a little corn field and up past some neat neighborhoods. Sign me up for a creepy wooden man statue and paddle boat docked in my backyard.
There’s a nice wide trail that runs along the highway in Ankeny, right past Kyle’s Bike Shop.
We stopped in and bought some extra tubes for my bike, to be on the safe side. In the strip mall next door to Kyle’s is 34’s Sports Bar & Grill.
Joe and I treated ourselves to lunch (the BLT was pretty delish, and they have those crispy twice-fried french fries that are killa). If you’re not in the mood to dine in, the restaurant is pretty much across the street from the Aquatic Center, which I’m pretty sure allows you to bring your own food in.
This slide swirls you around and flushes you out like a toilet bowl. Intense!
Admission to Cascade Falls is $7 per adult, and you currently have to pay by cash or check. Bring a picnic and this is a cheap little athletic Ankeny adventure! It’s about 14 miles one way, but I am out of shape and barely broke a sweat in the summer heat. Don’t let the double-digit mileage deter you. Happy trails!