This 16.5 mile journey can be a step back into time as travelers witness a few remaining prairie and wetland remnants. The recently paved trail, managed jointly by the Warren and Polk County Conservation Boards, preserves some of Iowa’s endangered plants, those plants that had been wiped out in other parts of the state as land-use changes were made.
The Great Western trail heads are located across from the Izaak Walton
League Clubhouse on Valley Drive in Des Moines and at Inwood Street in
Google Map Location
Your trip along the Great Western Trail is a journey into history. It
will take you through the site of Lida, past the munitions train
derailment and fire near North River and across the Churchville Prairie.
1914 no point in Iowa was more than 12 miles from a railroad. They
served many small-town elevators and coal yards. The track was opened
in 1899 by the Chicago, St. Paul and Kansas City Railroad. The Chicago
& Northwestern was the last train company to use the rail line
which originally ran from Des Moines to St. Joseph, Missouri. A few
concrete mile markers giving the distance between the marker location
and Kansas City can still be found standing as sentinels from the past.
trail is full of adventure for the nature enthusiast, the history buff,
and for those who simply wish to leave the noise and congestion of the
city. Put on your hiking boots or hop on your bike and enjoy the trail.
Operating Hours & Seasons
The trail is open from 6:30 A.M. to 10:00 P.M.
No horses or motorized vehicles are allowed.