Our Family of Trails

Spring is most definitely in the air! Time to pack up those snow boots and dust off the warm weather gear as the spring melt makes way for outdoor fun here in central Iowa. Here at Polk County Conservation, we got you covered!
Our family of parks covers over 14,000 acres across the county stretching from Granger down to Mitchellville. PCC has been devoted to conservation and protection of Polk County's natural heritage as well as providing quality outdoor recreation since 1956. Outdoor enthusiasts will find our trails useful for a variety of activities including hiking, cycling, birding, skating and cross-country skiing (dare we think back to the winter months).

Land acquisition for recreational trails and greenbelts has become a priority in Iowa's most populous county. The 110-mile Central Iowa Trail Loop is part of this priority. Meandering through towns along the way, this loop seeks to foster connections amongst communities along the trail as it connects existing parks, trails and businesses across five counties.

Our Family of Trails

 The High Trestle Trail extends over 25 miles from Ankeny to Woodward also connecting Sheldahl, Slater and Madrid along the way. This trail is a major link in the Central Iowa Trail Loop. A former railroad bridge that spans across the Des Moines River, located between Woodward and Madrid, is the focal point of the trail. This one half mile bridge rises 13 stories high with special lighting and six overlook spots where people can step aside and enjoy the views. This trail bridge is the fifth largest in the world!

The Chichaqua Valley Trail begins its scenic route just west of Mally's Park and extends 25 miles to Baxter. This former rail line was used by several railroad companies who left behind historic markers along the way indicating the distance to Kansas City. Keep a lookout for these throughout the trail!

The Gay Lea Wilson Trail makes up the lower portion of the Central Iowa Trail Loop. This 35 mile trail extends through eastern and northern parts of Polk County. Parking and access to this trail is available at Carney Marsh in Ankeny, Sargent Park in Des Moines and Copper Creek Plaza in Pleasant Hill.

The Great Western Trail stretches over 16.5 miles beginning near Water Works Park in Des Moines and ending in Warren county near Martensdale. The trailhead is located on Valley Drive/George Flagg Parkway near Park Avenue. This historic trail dates back to the late 1800's when the Chicago Great Western Company operated trains on this line. Be sure to keep an eye out for a trail marker indicating the site of a train wreck along Four Mile Creek. 

The Trestle to Trestle Trail is a 3.7 mile stretch that serves as a link between Des Moines and the northern suburbs. Trailheads are located at River Place off Euclid Avenue on the west side of the Des Moines River and on NW Lower Beaver Drive.

Trail maps are available on our website. Click here for further details. 

Come On Out and CELEBRATE!

The Grand Opening of the Chichaqua Valley Trail Connector between Mally's Park and Bondurant will be celebrated on Saturday, April 25th in the communities of Berwick, Bondurant, Mingo, Ira, and Baxter. Festivities begin at 7:00 a.m. in Berwick and continue throughout the day in all of the communities.

  • 7-10 a.m. - Kick-off Breakfast - Berwick Congregational Church
  • 8 and 9 a.m. - Yoga in the Park - Mally's Park
  • 8-10 a.m. - Bike helmet fittingg/Give-a-way - Mally's Park
  • 8-10 a.m. - Bike Tune-ups - Mally's Park
  • 10 a.m. - Ribbon Cutting - Mally's Park
  • Fire Truck on Display in Mally's Park.
Other activities will happen at the following locations:

  • Depot Trailhead - Bondurant
  • Founder's Irish Pub - Bondurant
  • Greencastle Tavern - Mingo
  • Community Center - Ira
  • Cadillac Jack's - Baxter
Grand Opening Trail Guides are available at: Berwick Post Office, Founder's Irish Pub, Baxter City Hall, Bondurant City Hall, Greencastle Tavern, Cadillac Jack's, Jack Bucklin Auto Parts.

Click here for detailed event information including sponsors, maps, and community attractions.


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