Activities

 
Biking Biking at Easter Lake Park

The 6.2 mile Mark C. Ackelson Trail winding around Easter Lake provides an ideal place for outdoor recreation and scenic views for park visitors. Cycling, skating and hiking opportunities along the trail lie adjacent to playground equipment, fishing complete with an accessible pier, boat ramp and several picnic areas. The trail rides through Owen's Covered Bridge on the southern lake shore, Polk County's only covered bridge. Parking and trail access is available from any of the shelters and parking lots located throughout Easter Lake Park as well as at the beach. The north side of the trail is accessible from the Ewing Park Dog Park.

The trail's namesake, Mark C. Ackelson, served as president of the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation for 18 years as well as provided leadership in several conservation coalitions and alliances. Ackelson's devoted passion for land, water and wildlife served in helping the INHF to protect and restore 145,000 acres of Iowa's natural areas in addition to providing hundreds of miles of trails in an effort to support local trailside communities and get Iowans outdoors.

Biking Biking at Chichaqua Valley Trail

This is a multipurpose trail. Find further information at: Chichaqua Valley Trail Information

Baxter to Berwick– 26 Miles

This scenic recreational trail begins just west of Berwick and extends for 26 miles to the Jasper County town of Baxter.

The Polk County trailhead and parking area is on Northeast 88th Street, south of Highway 65 and one mile east of Bondurant. Trail users can also park in Mally's Park in Berwick. Various other access points are available in the towns along the trail.

Motorized vehicles are prohibited on all trails within PCCB lands. The only exceptions are for maintenance, law enforcement, and emergency vehicles. This restriction does not apply to a manual-operated or power-driven device designed primarily for use by an individual with a mobility disability, e.g. wheel chair.

This trail is paved from beginning to end, making it popular with rollerbladers as well as cyclists and hikers. Along the trail, one will spot mile markers showing the distance to Kansas City for this former railroad route. The trail also crosses stone bridges dating from the Wisconsin, Iowa & Nebraska Railroad that built this rail line in 1885.

In later years, the line was used by the Chicago, St. Paul, & Kansas City Railroad (1886-1892), Chicago Great Western Company (1892-1968), and finally the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad Company (1968-1984). The line was abandoned in 1984, and reopened as a recreational trail in 1987. It includes a scenic crossing of the Skunk River.

Biking Biking at Great Western Trail
This 16.5 mile recreational trail begins near Water Works Park in Des Moines and ends in the Warren County town of Martensdale. It is named for the Chicago Great Western Company whose trains operated on this line from 1892 to 1968. Visit our website for further information: www.leadingyououtdoors.org
Biking Biking at Gay Lea Wilson Trail
The Gay Lea Wilson Trail, when completed, will extend for approximately 35 miles throughout the eastern and northern parts of Polk County. The trail will also make up the lower portion of a 110-mile Central Iowa Trail Loop that will connect existing parks, trails, and businesses in five counties. Polk County Conservation Board currently owns and manages the five mile trail segment between Pleasant Hill and Altoona and the recently constructed 2.5 mile trail segment between Ankeny and Des Moines. Parking and access to this new stretch of trail is available at Carney Marsh in Ankeny or Sargent Park in Des Moines. For more information on this newest 2.5 mile connection, please see this flyer.Recreation and nature enthusiasts will find this multi-use trail useful for a variety of activities including hiking, cycling, birding, in-line skating, and cross-country skiing.Motorized vehicles are prohibited on all trails within PCCB lands. The only exceptions are for maintenance, law enforcement, and emergency vehicles. This restriction does not apply to a manual-operated or power-driven device designed primarily for use by an individual with a mobility disability, e.g. wheel chair.
Biking Biking at Sycamore Trail

The 6.5 mile Sycamore Trail will take you through some of the most wild areas of the Des Moines metro area. Abundant wildlife and views of the Des Moines River will keep you pedaling to find what’s around the next bend in the trail.The Sycamore Trail is open to bicycling, hiking and cross-country skiing. The following are not permitted in this natural area: motorized vehicles, horseback riding, camping, and firearms. 

Visit our website for further information: www.leadingyououtdoors.org

Biking Biking at Carney Marsh

Gay Lea Wilson Trail travels along Carney Marsh.

The Gay Lea Wilson Trail, when completed, will extend for approximately 35 miles throughout the eastern and northern parts of Polk County. The trail will also make up the lower portion of a 110-mile Central Iowa Trail Loop that will connect existing parks, trails, and businesses in five counties. Polk County Conservation Board currently owns and manages the five mile trail segment between Pleasant Hill and Altoona and the recently constructed 2.5 mile trail segment between Ankeny and Des Moines. Parking and access to this new stretch of trail is available at Carney Marsh in Ankeny or Sargent Park in Des Moines. For more information on this newest 2.5 mile connection, please see this flyer.

Biking Biking at Trestle to Trestle Trail

Des Moines to Johnston – 3.7 miles Map and Info

The Trestle to Trestle Trail was constructed in 2007 and serves as a vital link between the Des Moines metro the northern Polk County suburbs. This 10' wide asphalt trail connects the Inter Urban Trestle Bridge (south of the Euclid Bridge) to the Trestle Bridge (north of I-80/35) connecting to the Johnston trail system.

Trailheads are located at River Place off Euclid Avenue (on the west side of the Des Moines River) and on NW Lower Beaver Drive (just east of NW Beaver Drive).

The Des Moines & Central Iowa Railroad began operations as the Inter-Urban Railway, incorporated in 1899 and soon after in 1902 connected Des Moines to Colfax, a distance of 23 miles. Four years later in 1906 the railroad built a 35-mile branch connecting Des Moines to Perry. In 1922 the system was reorganized as the Des Moines & Central Iowa Railroad. Passengers services on the system were discontinued in 1949 and the remaining freight business was switched from electric to diesel locomotives, which lasted into the 1950’s.

Motorized vehicles are prohibited on all trails within PCCB lands. The only exceptions are for maintenance, law enforcement, and emergency vehicles. This restriction does not apply to a manual-operated or power-driven device designed primarily for use by an individual with a mobility disability, e.g. wheel chair.

Biking Biking at High Trestle Trail
The land that now rests beneath the High Trestle Trails was purchased in 1881 to establish the Chicago, Milwaukee, and St. Paul Railroad Company. Union Pacific Railroad sold a 25-mile discontinued rail corridor that connects the cities of Ankeny, Sheldahl, Slater, Madrid, and Woodward to the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation in 2005. The Foundation then transferred the corridor to nine public partners, including Polk County Conservation Board. The majority of the trail was paved in 2008. This trail segment is a major link in a proposed plan to create two 100-mile trail loops that meet near Des Moines. The western loop involves the Raccoon River Trail and Clive Greenbelt Trail. The eastern loop includes the Heart of Iowa Trail, Chichaqua Valley Trail and the Gay Lea Wilson Trail.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 “destination 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!
Biking Biking at Mally's Weh-Weh-Neh-Kee Park

A multipurpose bicycling and walking trail is located north of park.

This scenic recreational trail begins just west of Berwick and extends for 26 miles to the Jasper County town of Baxter.The Polk County trailhead and parking area is on Northeast 88th Street, south of Highway 65 and one mile east of Bondurant. Trail users can also park in Mally's Park in Berwick. Various other access points are available in the towns along the trail.

 

Boating Boating at Jester, Lewis A., Park
For those who want to launch their own boats onto the upper reaches of Saylorville Lake, Jester Park offers two boat ramps. One is located off Jester Park Drive near the main campground, with the other located at the Lincoln Access beside the Mile-Long Bridge. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers warns boaters to use caution upstream from the Mile-Long Bridge.

A "No Motorized Vessel Zone" is located north of the Mile Long Bridge during April 1 to August 31. During periods of flood storage, restriction may be lifted. Please contact the US Army Corps of Engineers at Saylorville Lake for details. Call 515-276-4656 or visit their website at http://www.mvr.usace.army.mil/Missions/Recreation/SaylorvilleLake.aspx
Boating Boating at Fort Des Moines Park

A boat ramp is available for electric motor boats.

 

Boating Boating at Yellow Banks Park
Access to the Des Moines River between Des Moines and Lake Red Rock is provided at the Yellow Banks Park boat ramp. The ramp is located off the western park drive past camp area # 1.
Boating Boating at Easter Lake Park

Fishing and boating access to 172-acre Easter Lake is provided by a boat ramp on the south shore of the lake off Easter Lake Drive. Boaters are advised to follow the "no wake" rules for this prime walleye, bass, and catfish spot on the southside of Des Moines.

**Restoration efforts in Easter Lake will result in the closure of the swimming beach and boat ramp in 2017 and 2018. All forms of watercraft will be prohibited until lake restoration efforts have been completed and water levels are adequate and safe.​

Cabins Cabins at Jester, Lewis A., Park

Four modern rental cabins have been constructed at Jester Park. Each cabin has a two-story walkout floor plan. One cabin has two bedrooms and sleeps 8 people. The three remaining cabins have one bedroom and sleep 6 people.

Amenities include a full kitchen, two modern 3/4 bathrooms with shower (one ground level, one in basement), charcoal grill, front porch, back deck overlooking the timber, and a communal fire pit.

The proposed cabin site was carefully selected for its beautiful woodland setting and close proximity to many recreational amenities and environmental education programming opportunities. The cabins are nestled in amongst a mature pine grove that is adjacent to Discovery Pond. This 2.8 acre pond is a popular fishing spot and public programming site. An accessible canoe/kayak access, fishing pier, and hiking trail around the pond provides safe and healthy outdoor activities for people of all ages and abilities. Within short walking distance, cabin users will stumble upon a secluded bird blind, elk and bison wildlife exhibit, and an innovative natural playscape.

There are also many exciting places to explore while hiking on the nature trails that connect to the cabins. Jester Park and the Saylorville Lake region is a goldmine for outdoor recreation. Premier camping, picnicking, boating, beach use, interpretive programming, hiking, cycling, golfing, and horseback riding are just a handful of the many opportunities that await cabin visitors.

Pictures of the facilities can be found at our website at leadingyououtdoors.org

Camping Camping at Jester, Lewis A., Park

Jester Park features 168 campsites spread across wooded hills and along the shore of Saylorville Lake. These include 80 electric sites (17 of these allow advance reservation), 82 non-electric sites (9 of these allow advance reservation), four primitive walk-in sites, and two reservable youth areas. Of the primitive sites, 20 are compatible with equestrian users within the park, and layovers can be arranged with Jester Park Stables. Contact the Jester Park Equestrian Center for layover information at 515-999-2818.

Two campground showerhouses are open mid-April through mid-October. A special discounted rate is available for a 7-day camping stay on non-reservable sites. More information about camping is available on our website at www.leadingyououtdoors.org

Campers should set up at their campsite before registering at the campground registration booth located one mile from the park entrance. Some campsites cannot be reserved in advance. Firewood is available near the registration booth.

A youth camping area is available by reservation only. 

Reservations can be made for some campsites using this website. 

Camping Camping at Chichaqua Bottoms Greenbelt
Chichaqua Bottoms Greenbelt's campground offers 11 electric sites and 13 primitive sites overlooking the scenic oxbows of the old Skunk River. An organized youth camping area is also available. A modern showerhouse is located in the main campground and is open mid-April through mid-October.

Reservations for some of the campsites can be made using this website. Maps of the area and other information about camping can be found on our website at http://www.polkcountyiowa.gov/conservation/things-to-do/camping/.

Camping Camping at Yellow Banks Park
Yellow Banks Park features 12 primitive camping sites on a beautiful bluff overlooking the Des Moines River, as well as 48 electric sites at two nearby camping areas. The park also offers 6 unique backpacking campsites located off a 3/4 mile trail. Two group camp areas and a youth group camp area are also available. 

More information can be found on our website at  www.leadingyououtdoors.org



Camping Camping at Thomas Mitchell Park
Thomas Mitchell Park's campground rests in a scenic bend of Camp Creek at the foot of a tall, wooded ridge. This popular area offers electric sites, primitive sites, and 2 youth group camping areas.  A modern showerhouse and dump station are open from mid-April to mid-October. Children's playground, hiking trails, fishing pond, and reconstructed prairie are nearby. More information can be found on our website at www.leadingyououtdoors.org

Reservations for some campsites can be made on this website by clicking the MAKE RESERVATIONS tab above. 
Canoeing & Kayaking Canoeing & Kayaking at Fort Des Moines Park
This 14 acre pond is great for canoeing and kayaking.
Canoeing & Kayaking Canoeing & Kayaking at Yellow Banks Park
Access to the Des Moines River between Des Moines and Lake Red Rock is provided at the Yellow Banks Park boat ramp. The ramp is located off the western park drive past camp area # 1.


Canoeing & Kayaking Canoeing & Kayaking at Easter Lake Park

Fishing and boating access to 172-acre Easter Lake is provided by a boat ramp on the south shore of the lake off Easter Lake Drive.

**Restoration efforts in Easter Lake will result in the closure of the swimming beach and boat ramp through 2018. All forms of watercraft will be prohibited until lake restoration efforts have been completed and water levels are adequate and safe.​

Canoeing & Kayaking Canoeing & Kayaking at Chichaqua Bottoms Greenbelt
Canoe over 3 miles of old Skunk River channels. Wildlife species such as river otters, great blue herons, beavers, wood ducks, and painted turtles are just a few of the animals that can be seen while canoeing the backwaters. Water depths are normally one to three feet.

Chichaqua Bottoms Greenbelt has canoes for rent. Paddles and life jackets are provided. Reservations can be made in advance by calling 515-249-5925 or on-site on a first-come, first-serve basis.  Additional information can be found on our website. Click here: Polk County Conservation website

Canoeing & Kayaking Canoeing & Kayaking at Jester, Lewis A., Park

For those who want to launch their own boats onto the upper reaches of Saylorville Lake, Jester Park offers two boat ramps. One is located off Jester Park Drive near the main campground, with the other located at the Lincoln Access beside the Mile-Long Bridge. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers warns boaters to use caution upstream from the Mile-Long Bridge.

A "No Motorized Vessel Zone" is located north of the Mile Long Bridge during April 1 to August 31. During periods of flood storage, restriction may be lifted. Please contact the US Army Corps of Engineers at Saylorville Lake for details. Call 515-276-4656 or visit their website at http://www.mvr.usace.army.mil/Missions/Recreation/SaylorvilleLake.aspx

Outdoor Recreation and Wellness Center
Rent canoes, kayaks and paddle boards from Pingora Outdoors, at the Outdoor Recreation and Wellness Center. For more information call Pingora Outdoors at Jester Park: (515) 323-5330 or visit their website

 

Education Education at Jester, Lewis A., Park

Polk County Conservation naturalists offer many year-round nature programs. To request a Nature News to learn about upcoming programs at Lewis A. Jester Park and other parks in Polk County send an email to pccb_info@polkcountyiowa.gov and put ADD TO MAILING LIST in the reference line. For current listings, click on the EVENTS tab above or visit the calendar on our website at www.leadingyououtdoors.org.

Jester Park Nature Center

One of Iowa’s leading nature centers, the Jester Park Nature Center is a gateway to experience Iowa’s natural environment. As a place where education and tourism intersect, this facility  provides exceptional value to this region. Serving as the welcome center, portal to Polk County’s family of parks, and Jester Park’s new front porch, tourists, students, educators, families, and others connect through the nature center to the natural playscape and bison/elk exhibit, restored woodlands, Saylorville Lake, and a network of natural trails that will immerse people back into nature.

Exhibits
As visitors walk downstairs to the lower level of the Nature Center, they can explore displays representing three major habitats at Jester Park: wetlands, prairie, and woodlands. These displays help visitors identify plant and animal species in the park, discover relationships and connections between different species in the ecosystem.

Wetlands Island
Explore either side of a freestanding display that depicts a wetland habitat. Visitors can scoop up aquatic animals and look through a microscope to understand the importance of wetlands and good water quality. Along the critter wall, visitors can enjoy the large aquariums with live turtles and fish.

Prairie Island
Discover what lies beneath the sea of grass and flowers. Young visitors can crawl through a root-filled space to discover a variety of animals living underground like a fox and her pups or a pocket gopher. Above ground they can search for a three-dimensional ornate box turtle and bull snake along with real bison and elk fur. Visitors can lift interpretive panels "buried" in the ground form and discover creatures in their underground burrows.

Woodland Island
This exhibit depicts a forest floor, with sculpted mushrooms. Visitors can become nature detectives, using clues like animal tracks or scat to see if they can identify what creatures have been in the forest. Visitors can crawl thru the sculpted log to explore the "basement" of the woodland habitat revealing the secret relationship between plant, animals and the soil that supports them.

Habitat Wall
A large magnetic Habitat wall allows visitors to engage in free form play. Visitors will be free to make their own meaningful connections to the animals and plants found in Iowa while "playing" with magnets.

Naturalist Nook
Investigate natural items left by our naturalists or park visitors to discover and identify. A puppet theater allows free play for the young visitor. There is also space for reading books and playing with games.

Outdoor Exhibits: Features two outdoor patios; t​rails; prairie, woodland and ​wetland habitats.

 

Education Education at Chichaqua Bottoms Greenbelt
Polk County Conservation naturalists offer nature programs at Chichaqua Bottoms Greenbelt. To request a Nature News to learn about upcoming programs at Chichaqua and other parks in Polk County send an email to pccb_info@polkcountyiowa.gov and put ADD TO MAILING LIST  in the reference line.
Education Education at Fort Des Moines Park

A 1.5 acre native Iowa tree arboretum enhances park aesthetics and education opportunities. This self-guided nature activity has tree markers which offer easy identification. The arboretum contains 44 trees well suited for planting in central Iowa. An outdoor classroom is located near shelter #3.

Polk County Conservation naturalists offer nature programs at Fort Des Moines Park. To request a Nature News to learn about upcoming programs at Fort Des Moines and other parks in Polk County send an email to pccb_info@polkcountyiowa.gov and put ADD TO MAILING LIST in the reference line.

Education Education at Thomas Mitchell Park
Polk County Conservation naturalists offer nature programs at Thomas Mitchell Park. To request a Nature News to learn about upcoming programs at Thomas Mitchell and other parks in Polk County send an email to pccb_info@polkcountyiowa.gov and put ADD TO MAILING LIST  in the reference line.
Equestrian Activities Equestrian Activities at Jester, Lewis A., Park
The Equestrian Center offers boarding, riding lessons, shows and clinics, team building, trail riding, wagon & sleigh rides, pony rides and birthday parties. For for a complete listing of all programs go to their website at http://www.jesterparkec.com/ or call 515-999-2818.
Facility Rentals Facility Rentals at Jester, Lewis A., Park

JESTER PARK NATURE CENTER
Looking for a venue for your next corporate or personal event in a beautiful park setting? The Jester Park Nature Center is an eco-conscience building immersed in prairie and surrounded by woodlands. The nature center offers many different areas of the building for your next event. For more information on reserving this facility, visit this link.

Rental reservations will begin being accepted on January 2, 2019. Reservations can only be made six months prior to the reservation date. To make a reservation, call (515) 323-5317 between 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.(Monday - Friday).

JESTER PARK SHELTERS
Five open air picnic shelters can be rented from 10 a.m. – 10 p.m., 7 days per week. All shelters are accessible and come with picnic tables and grills. Amenities such as electricity, water service, sand volleyball courts, and playgrounds can be found in or nearby certain shelters.  For more information or to make reservations, please click on the MAKE RESERVATIONS tab above.

JESTER PARK LODGE
Managed by Food with Flair Catering, the Jester Park Lodge is a unique destination for weddings, corporate retreats, and private parties. The venue is nestled in mature woodlands overlooking an expansive lawn with beautiful lake views. The Jester Park Lodge can seat over 250 guests with a beautiful, private deck overlooking Saylorville Lake. The indoor event space can be divided in half for smaller events. Facility rental prices change seasonally. For more information or to make a reservation at the Lodge, please click here to go to their website.

JESTER PARK EQUESTRIAN CENTER
Jester Park Equestrian Center can be your go-to destination for your equestrian clinic, small show, conferences or other venue needs (ie: dog shows!). Our facilities were established in mind to host a plethora of groups and we are very accommodating and flexible for your needs. Utilize our indoor complex, outdoor arena, trail system or a combination of all of the above! For fees and rental information, visit their website here.

JESTER PARK CLUBHOUSE
Surrounded by beautiful rolling greens, the Jester Park Golf Course Clubhouse is an excellent choice for your next corporate or holiday party, graduation party, reunion, or birthday! The clubhouse does not host weddings. This venue has a private entrance for events, a customizable floor layout that seats 100+ guests, full service bar and kitchen, and a private back patio with plenty of extra seating. For more information, visit their website here.

SHELTERS AND AMPHITHEATER
Five picnic shelters are available by reservation or on a first-come  basis. Shelter #2 has a volleyball court and overlooks Skull Pond and golf course, Shelter #3 has a volleyball net and is closest to the playground, Shelter #4 has a campfire pit with view of the lake, Shelter #5 is near the cabins, across from Two Dam Pond, Shelter #6 is across from Elk/Bison Exhibit and Nature Playscape. The Amphitheater/mini shelter, great for award ceremonies and small wedding ceremonies is also available to reserve. Reservations for these facilities can be made by clicking on the MAKE RESERVATIONS tab above.


JESTER PARK CABINS
Four modern cabins at Jester Park provide opportunities for families to enjoy Jester Park who are unable or less inclined to camp. The cabins feature a walk out basement, covered front porch seating area, a wrap around wooden walkway to a back deck with a secluded woodland views. Amenities inside include a fireplace, kitchenette, two restrooms with shower, and modern household furnishings. The one larger cabin has a 2 bedroom upper level, with separate bunk space in the lower walk-out; the three smaller cabins have 1 bedroom on ground level with the same lower level features. Other amenities to the cabin site include fire ring, BBQ grills outside, and a central fire-pit gathering area for families.  For more information or to make reservations, please click on the MAKE RESERVATIONS tab above.

Facility Rentals Facility Rentals at Chichaqua Bottoms Greenbelt
The Chichaqua Longhouse is one of our enclosed facilities. It is popular for family reunions, company picnics, weddings, and other group functions. The longhouse accommodates up to 125 people. Reservations can be made on this site. 
Facility Rentals Facility Rentals at Thomas Mitchell Park
Two shelters are located near the ballfield and playground. Shelter are reservable from April 15 - October 16 or on a first come first serve basis. Reservations can be made using this website by clicking on the MAKE RESERVATIONS tab above.
Facility Rentals Facility Rentals at Fort Des Moines Park
Three picnic shelters are available by reservation or on a first-come basis. Shelter #1 is located near the lake and shares a parking lot with the boat ramp. Shelter #2 has a volleyball court and is located near a playground. Shelter #3 is near the outdoor classroom and has a fireplace inside the open-air shelter. Reservations can be made using this website by clicking on the MAKE RESERVATIONS tab above.
Facility Rentals Facility Rentals at Easter Lake Park
Five picnic shelters are available by reservation or on a first-come basis. Shelters 1-4 offer volleyball. Shelters #1 and #5 have playgrounds nearby. Shelters #1, #2, #4 and #5 offer shoreline fishing. Shelter #3 is located near a hiking trail and offers volleyball court nearby. Shelter #4 is the largest shelter and has a deck overlooking the lake.
Reservations can be made using this website, by clicking on the MAKE RESERVATIONS tab above. 
Facility Rentals Facility Rentals at Yellow Banks Park
Yellow Banks Park features TWO shelters and picnic areas on a beautiful bluff overlooking the Des Moines River. One additional shelter is located adjacent to ball fields and can be reserved from mid-July through October 15.

Reservations can be made using this website by clicking on the MAKE RESERVATIONS tab above. 
Facility Rentals Facility Rentals at Mally's Weh-Weh-Neh-Kee Park
A picnic shelter is available by reservation or on a first-come basis. Reservations can be made using this website.
Fishing Fishing at Yellow Banks Park
Yellow Banks Pond - 5 acres
Maximum depth: 14 feet
Average depth: 8 feet
Pond contour map can be found on our website at www.leadingyououtdoors.org or by clicking on the following link: FISHING

Types of fish found in pond: 
Bass  
Bluegill  
Crappie
Catfish 

Other water access: 
Boat ramp access to Des Moines River
Fishing Fishing at Easter Lake Park

This 172 acre lake was constructed in 1967.
Maximum depth: 21 feet
Average depth: 8 feet

Stocked annually
Average fish size
Bass 1 ½ lbs
Catfish 3 lbs
Crappie 3/4 lbs (9-12 inches)
Walleye 1 ½ lbs (predominate predator)
Records
Bass 7-8 lbs
Catfish 15 lbs
Crappie 3/4 lbs
Walleye 10 lbs
Hot spots
With a south wind fish the north side jetties
Fish for walleye off the dam
4 buoys mark submerged "tree wreaths"
Bait/lures
Catfish - chicken liver
Crappie - jigs or minnows
Rules
No wake
A new ADA fishing pier and house are located north side of the park.
For more information on fishing or for a pond contour map, please visit our website at www.leadingyououtdoors.org or by clicking on the following link: FISHING INFORMATION

Fishing Fishing at Fort Des Moines Park
This 14 acres pond was constructed in 1976.
Maximum depth: 30 feet
Average depth: 15 feet
For more information on fishing and pond contour map, please visit our website at www.leadingyououtdoors.org or by clicking on the following link: FISHING INFORMATION


Fishing Fishing at Thomas Mitchell Park
For more information on fishing and a pond contour map, please visit our website at www.leadingyououtdoors.org or by clicking on the following link: FISHING INFORMATION

Major improvements to the pond have been taking place IN RECENT years, improving the quality of the woodlands and pond in Thomas Mitchell Park. Grant dollars have funded the installation of  water control structures, construction and connection of new tile lines, reestablishment of native vegetation, pond dredging, fish restocking, and timber stand improvement.


Fishing Fishing at Jester, Lewis A., Park
Three ponds (Teal, Skull, and Discovery) support largemouth bass, bluegill, green sunfish, and crappie.
Maximum depth: 8 feet.
Average depth: 5 feet.
Most fish are small but plentiful making it a good for beginning anglers. Look for submerged brush piles. Ice fish using wax worms and minnows. You can also fish Saylorville Lake from the shore or by boat. 

For more information on fishing and pond contour maps, please visit our website at www.leadingyououtdoors.org or by clicking on the following link: FISHING INFORMATION
Fishing Fishing at Chichaqua Bottoms Greenbelt
For information about fishing at Polk County Conservation parks, please visit the Things to Do tab on our website (www.leadingyououtdoors.org) or click this link: Things to Do-fishing
Geocaching Geocaching at Easter Lake Park

Geocaching has become a very popular activity for individuals and families to participate in. Geocaching is an entertaining adventure game for GPS users. The basic idea is to have individuals and organizations set up caches all over the world and share the locations of these caches on the Internet. GPS users can then use the location coordinates to find the caches. Once found, a cache may provide the visitor with a wide variety of rewards. All the visitor is asked to do is to leave an item if they decide to take something from the cache. Visit geocaching.com for more details.

Polk County Conservation permits geocaching in keeping with its mission to provide opportunities for safe recreational activities. Geocachers are welcome to place a cache in PCC lands as long as they comply with the requirements of the geocache permit.

Geocaching Geocaching at Brown's Woods

Geocaching has become a very popular activity for individuals and families to participate in. Geocaching is an entertaining adventure game for GPS users. The basic idea is to have individuals and organizations set up caches all over the world and share the locations of these caches on the Internet. GPS users can then use the location coordinates to find the caches. Once found, a cache may provide the visitor with a wide variety of rewards. All the visitor is asked to do is to leave an item if they decide to take something from the cache. Visit geocaching.com for more details.

Polk County Conservation permits geocaching in keeping with its mission to provide opportunities for safe recreational activities. Geocachers are welcome to place a cache in PCC lands as long as they comply with the requirements of the geocache permit.

Geocaching Geocaching at Jester, Lewis A., Park

Geocaching has become a very popular activity for individuals and families to participate in. Geocaching is an entertaining adventure game for GPS users. The basic idea is to have individuals and organizations set up caches all over the world and share the locations of these caches on the Internet. GPS users can then use the location coordinates to find the caches. Once found, a cache may provide the visitor with a wide variety of rewards. All the visitor is asked to do is to leave an item if they decide to take something from the cache. Visit geocaching.com for more details.

Polk County Conservation permits geocaching in keeping with its mission to provide opportunities for safe recreational activities. Geocachers are welcome to place a cache in PCC lands as long as they comply with the requirements of the geocache permit.

Geocaching Geocaching at Chichaqua Bottoms Greenbelt

Geocaching has become a very popular activity for individuals and families to participate in. Geocaching is an entertaining adventure game for GPS users. The basic idea is to have individuals and organizations set up caches all over the world and share the locations of these caches on the Internet. GPS users can then use the location coordinates to find the caches. Once found, a cache may provide the visitor with a wide variety of rewards. All the visitor is asked to do is to leave an item if they decide to take something from the cache. Visit geocaching.com for more details.

Polk County Conservation permits geocaching in keeping with its mission to provide opportunities for safe recreational activities. Geocachers are welcome to place a cache in PCC lands as long as they comply with the requirements of the geocache permit.

Geocaching Geocaching at Chichaqua Valley Trail

Geocaching has become a very popular activity for individuals and families to participate in. Geocaching is an entertaining adventure game for GPS users. The basic idea is to have individuals and organizations set up caches all over the world and share the locations of these caches on the Internet. GPS users can then use the location coordinates to find the caches. Once found, a cache may provide the visitor with a wide variety of rewards. All the visitor is asked to do is to leave an item if they decide to take something from the cache. Visit geocaching.com for more details.

Polk County Conservation permits geocaching in keeping with its mission to provide opportunities for safe recreational activities. Geocachers are welcome to place a cache in PCC lands as long as they comply with the requirements of the geocache permit.

Geocaching Geocaching at Great Western Trail

Geocaching has become a very popular activity for individuals and families to participate in. Geocaching is an entertaining adventure game for GPS users. The basic idea is to have individuals and organizations set up caches all over the world and share the locations of these caches on the Internet. GPS users can then use the location coordinates to find the caches. Once found, a cache may provide the visitor with a wide variety of rewards. All the visitor is asked to do is to leave an item if they decide to take something from the cache. Visit geocaching.com for more details.

Polk County Conservation permits geocaching in keeping with its mission to provide opportunities for safe recreational activities. Geocachers are welcome to place a cache in PCC lands as long as they comply with the requirements of the geocache permit.

Geocaching Geocaching at Gay Lea Wilson Trail

Geocaching has become a very popular activity for individuals and families to participate in. Geocaching is an entertaining adventure game for GPS users. The basic idea is to have individuals and organizations set up caches all over the world and share the locations of these caches on the Internet. GPS users can then use the location coordinates to find the caches. Once found, a cache may provide the visitor with a wide variety of rewards. All the visitor is asked to do is to leave an item if they decide to take something from the cache. Visit geocaching.com for more details.

Polk County Conservation permits geocaching in keeping with its mission to provide opportunities for safe recreational activities. Geocachers are welcome to place a cache in PCC lands as long as they comply with the requirements of the geocache permit.

Geocaching Geocaching at Thomas Mitchell Park

Geocaching has become a very popular activity for individuals and families to participate in. Geocaching is an entertaining adventure game for GPS users. The basic idea is to have individuals and organizations set up caches all over the world and share the locations of these caches on the Internet. GPS users can then use the location coordinates to find the caches. Once found, a cache may provide the visitor with a wide variety of rewards. All the visitor is asked to do is to leave an item if they decide to take something from the cache. Visit geocaching.com for more details.

Polk County Conservation permits geocaching in keeping with its mission to provide opportunities for safe recreational activities. Geocachers are welcome to place a cache in PCC lands as long as they comply with the requirements of the geocache permit.

Geocaching Geocaching at Fort Des Moines Park

Geocaching has become a very popular activity for individuals and families to participate in. Geocaching is an entertaining adventure game for GPS users. The basic idea is to have individuals and organizations set up caches all over the world and share the locations of these caches on the Internet. GPS users can then use the location coordinates to find the caches. Once found, a cache may provide the visitor with a wide variety of rewards. All the visitor is asked to do is to leave an item if they decide to take something from the cache. Visit geocaching.com for more details.

Polk County Conservation permits geocaching in keeping with its mission to provide opportunities for safe recreational activities. Geocachers are welcome to place a cache in PCC lands as long as they comply with the requirements of the geocache permit.

Geocaching Geocaching at Yellow Banks Park

Geocaching has become a very popular activity for individuals and families to participate in. Geocaching is an entertaining adventure game for GPS users. The basic idea is to have individuals and organizations set up caches all over the world and share the locations of these caches on the Internet. GPS users can then use the location coordinates to find the caches. Once found, a cache may provide the visitor with a wide variety of rewards. All the visitor is asked to do is to leave an item if they decide to take something from the cache. Visit geocaching.com for more details.

Polk County Conservation permits geocaching in keeping with its mission to provide opportunities for safe recreational activities. Geocachers are welcome to place a cache in PCC lands as long as they comply with the requirements of the geocache permit.

Geocaching Geocaching at Mally's Weh-Weh-Neh-Kee Park

Geocaching has become a very popular activity for individuals and families to participate in. Geocaching is an entertaining adventure game for GPS users. The basic idea is to have individuals and organizations set up caches all over the world and share the locations of these caches on the Internet. GPS users can then use the location coordinates to find the caches. Once found, a cache may provide the visitor with a wide variety of rewards. All the visitor is asked to do is to leave an item if they decide to take something from the cache. Visit geocaching.com for more details.

Polk County Conservation permits geocaching in keeping with its mission to provide opportunities for safe recreational activities. Geocachers are welcome to place a cache in PCC lands as long as they comply with the requirements of the geocache permit.

Geocaching Geocaching at Four Mile Creek Greenbelt

Geocaching has become a very popular activity for individuals and families to participate in. Geocaching is an entertaining adventure game for GPS users. The basic idea is to have individuals and organizations set up caches all over the world and share the locations of these caches on the Internet. GPS users can then use the location coordinates to find the caches. Once found, a cache may provide the visitor with a wide variety of rewards. All the visitor is asked to do is to leave an item if they decide to take something from the cache. Visit geocaching.com for more details.

Polk County Conservation permits geocaching in keeping with its mission to provide opportunities for safe recreational activities. Geocachers are welcome to place a cache in PCC lands as long as they comply with the requirements of the geocache permit.

Geocaching Geocaching at Trestle to Trestle Trail

Geocaching has become a very popular activity for individuals and families to participate in. Geocaching is an entertaining adventure game for GPS users. The basic idea is to have individuals and organizations set up caches all over the world and share the locations of these caches on the Internet. GPS users can then use the location coordinates to find the caches. Once found, a cache may provide the visitor with a wide variety of rewards. All the visitor is asked to do is to leave an item if they decide to take something from the cache. Visit geocaching.com for more details.

Polk County Conservation permits geocaching in keeping with its mission to provide opportunities for safe recreational activities. Geocachers are welcome to place a cache in PCC lands as long as they comply with the requirements of the geocache permit.

Geocaching Geocaching at Sycamore Trail

Geocaching has become a very popular activity for individuals and families to participate in. Geocaching is an entertaining adventure game for GPS users. The basic idea is to have individuals and organizations set up caches all over the world and share the locations of these caches on the Internet. GPS users can then use the location coordinates to find the caches. Once found, a cache may provide the visitor with a wide variety of rewards. All the visitor is asked to do is to leave an item if they decide to take something from the cache. Visit geocaching.com for more details.

Polk County Conservation permits geocaching in keeping with its mission to provide opportunities for safe recreational activities. Geocachers are welcome to place a cache in PCC lands as long as they comply with the requirements of the geocache permit.

Geocaching Geocaching at Carney Marsh

Geocaching has become a very popular activity for individuals and families to participate in. Geocaching is an entertaining adventure game for GPS users. The basic idea is to have individuals and organizations set up caches all over the world and share the locations of these caches on the Internet. GPS users can then use the location coordinates to find the caches. Once found, a cache may provide the visitor with a wide variety of rewards. All the visitor is asked to do is to leave an item if they decide to take something from the cache. Visit geocaching.com for more details.

Polk County Conservation permits geocaching in keeping with its mission to provide opportunities for safe recreational activities. Geocachers are welcome to place a cache in PCC lands as long as they comply with the requirements of the geocache permit.

Geocaching Geocaching at Beaver Creek Greenbelt

Geocaching has become a very popular activity for individuals and families to participate in. Geocaching is an entertaining adventure game for GPS users. The basic idea is to have individuals and organizations set up caches all over the world and share the locations of these caches on the Internet. GPS users can then use the location coordinates to find the caches. Once found, a cache may provide the visitor with a wide variety of rewards. All the visitor is asked to do is to leave an item if they decide to take something from the cache. Visit geocaching.com for more details.

Polk County Conservation permits geocaching in keeping with its mission to provide opportunities for safe recreational activities. Geocachers are welcome to place a cache in PCC lands as long as they comply with the requirements of the geocache permit.

Geocaching Geocaching at Oralabor Gateway Trail

Geocaching has become a very popular activity for individuals and families to participate in. Geocaching is an entertaining adventure game for GPS users. The basic idea is to have individuals and organizations set up caches all over the world and share the locations of these caches on the Internet. GPS users can then use the location coordinates to find the caches. Once found, a cache may provide the visitor with a wide variety of rewards. All the visitor is asked to do is to leave an item if they decide to take something from the cache. Visit geocaching.com for more details.

Polk County Conservation permits geocaching in keeping with its mission to provide opportunities for safe recreational activities. Geocachers are welcome to place a cache in PCC lands as long as they comply with the requirements of the geocache permit.

Geocaching Geocaching at High Trestle Trail

Geocaching has become a very popular activity for individuals and families to participate in. Geocaching is an entertaining adventure game for GPS users. The basic idea is to have individuals and organizations set up caches all over the world and share the locations of these caches on the Internet. GPS users can then use the location coordinates to find the caches. Once found, a cache may provide the visitor with a wide variety of rewards. All the visitor is asked to do is to leave an item if they decide to take something from the cache. Visit geocaching.com for more details.

Polk County Conservation permits geocaching in keeping with its mission to provide opportunities for safe recreational activities. Geocachers are welcome to place a cache in PCC lands as long as they comply with the requirements of the geocache permit.

Historic Visits Historic Visits at High Trestle Trail
The land that now rests beneath the High Trestle Trails was purchased in 1881 to establish the Chicago, Milwaukee, and St. Paul Railroad Company. Union Pacific Railroad sold a 25-mile discontinued rail corridor that connects the cities of Ankeny, Sheldahl, Slater, Madrid, and Woodward to the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation in 2005. The Foundation then transferred the corridor to nine public partners, including Polk County Conservation Board. 

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 “destination 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!
Historic Visits Historic Visits at Easter Lake Park
The Owens Covered Bridge is the only covered bridge in Polk County. It was originally built in 1878 over the old North River channel on a road from Martin’s Ferry to Winterset. In 1939, the road and the North River channel were relocated north of the covered bridge site leaving the old bridge without a road and river. In 1968, Polk County Conservation Board promised to restore and move the bridge, board by board, nearly eight miles to Easter Lake Park. The bridge is now restricted to foot traffic.
Historic Visits Historic Visits at Fort Des Moines Park
Fort Des Moines Park was originally part of “Fort Des Moines,” established on 640 acres of land four miles south of downtown Des Moines in 1903. This area was a cavalry post, an officer training camp, Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC) training center, US Army Reserve Center, and landfill site until the 1960’s. In the late 1960’s, Lady Bird Johnson promoted the Legacy of Parks program by giving federal property to local governments for parks. Polk County Conservation Board acquired Fort Des Moines Park through this program in October, 1972.
Historic Visits Historic Visits at Thomas Mitchell Park
Thomas Mitchell Park was named after Polk County’s earliest Anglo-American settler, Thomas Mitchell. In 1844, Mitchell obtained early access to the Iowa Territory from Captain Allen, commander of Fort Des Moines. In exchange, Mitchell built a bridge over Camp Creek which was often impassible to wagons traveling from Keokuk and Iowa City to Fort Des Moines. He also built the Apple Grove Inn, in what is today’s Thomas Mitchell Park. Thomas Mitchell was not only an innkeeper, but also a farmer, legislator, sheriff, and operator of a stop on the Underground Railroad.
Historic Visits Historic Visits at Chichaqua Bottoms Greenbelt
In 1910, a 100-foot early Warren pony truss bridge was built over the channelized South Skunk River. In 1992, a new bridge was constructed to replace the old bridge which was moved to Chichaqua. Only 17 bridges of this type remain in Iowa with this one being the longest.
Hunting Hunting at Chichaqua Bottoms Greenbelt
Hunting is allowed in the majority of the area. A portion of Chichaqua has been designated as a "controlled hunting area". Non-toxic shot (non-lead) is required with the exception of deer and turkey hunting. All state and federal hunting laws apply.

Polk County Conservation Board initiated a controlled waterfowl hunting program at the Chichaqua Bottoms Greenbelt in 1973. Each year, the program allows the reservation of up to 12 hunting blinds per day. Up to four people are allowed per blind. Hunting is allowed Saturdays, Sundays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays from legal opening time until 1 p.m. during the October to early December season. Blinds are located adjacent to waters that are part of a five hundred acre refuge. The program has been very popular with central Iowa hunters. The County's operation is one of several programs in Iowa and the only one in the central part of the state. The others are along the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers. It has been popular for older hunters who find it difficult to wade in many public marshes, but can walk to individual blinds over dry land at Chichaqua. The layout of the area, access to the blinds, and the need for no boats make it more attractive.

Waterfowl hunting blinds at Chichaqua Bottoms Greenbelt can be reserved by calling the Chichaqua office at (515) 967-2596 from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The twelve blinds are located in both marsh and woodland settings. Daily reservations are $30 per hunting blind. Hunting is allowed from legal opening time to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday throughout the season.

A trap range including a trap house is available to rent for a nominal fee. You may also bring your own trap to use at the range if the area is not reserved. To reserve the range, call the park office at (515) 967-2596.  For more information about hunting, please visit our website at www.leadingyououtdoors.org or click on the following link: HUNTING INFORMATION
Hunting Hunting at Jester, Lewis A., Park
Several remote areas of Jester Park are available to hunt all game. A portion of Jester Park along Saylorville Lake is open to waterfowl hunting only. All state and federal hunting laws apply.

For more information on hunting, please visit our website at www.leadingyououtdoors.org or by clicking on the following link: HUNTING INFORMATION
Other Activities Other Activities at Easter Lake Park
Easter Lake has three ADA accessible playgrounds. They are located near shelter #1, #5 and at the swimming beach.
Other Activities Other Activities at Jester, Lewis A., Park
Outdoor Recreation and Wellness Center

The Outdoor Recreation and Wellness Center offers a wide range of outdoor programming through Polk County Conservation, rental equipment, and Pingora Outdoors at Jester Park, allowing everyone access to outdoor adventure and fun!

Pingora Outdoors at Jester Park
Located within the Outdoor Recreation and Wellness Center Pingora Outdoors at Jester Park is your stop for equipment rentals, ice, drinks, snacks, and outdoor gear!

Equipment Rental
Rent summer and winter equipment at Pingora Outdoors at Jester Park, located in the Outdoor Recreation and Wellness Center.

Playground
This play structure was created with the child in mind. One structure is desgned for children ages 2-5, while the other is designed for children ages 5-12. Both structures are accessible and can be found near shelter #3.

Natural Playscape
The Jester Park Natural Playscape is not a run of the mill playground. It is a play area constructed using natural materials such as boulders, earth mounds, and water features, avoiding plastics, metals, concrete, or signs explaining how to play.

Children that climb trees, roll down hills, scramble up rocks, dam up water, and hide in grass experience natural play. This type of play frees the child’s imagination to limitless learning opportunities. By using the approach of a Natural Playscape instead of a fabricated playground, children’s creativity will be challenged with adventurous natural activities and objects.

Jester Park Golf Course
The Jester Park Golf Course is an 18-hole championship course judged by the Des Moines Business Record in 1997 to be Greater Des Moines' "best public golf course." Excellent playing conditions and challenging holes have helped make Jester Park a popular course for state tournaments. Tee times may be made in advance by calling (515) 999-2903. Jester Park also offers a 9-hole par 3 course especially popular with beginning golfers, as well as a modern Golf Learning and Practice Facility with driving range and practice greens.

Miniature Golf Course The newly constructed 18-hole miniature golf course is a fun, yet challenging game for players of all ages. The professionally designed course has multiple water features,
practice greens, and beautifully manicured flower beds. The course is also lit for the after sunlight hours to provide night time fun! Birthday party & group packages are available.

 

Other Activities Other Activities at Chichaqua Bottoms Greenbelt
Dog Training Area: Approximately 100 acres have been designated for year round dog training. Organized dog trials are held throughout the year. Areas not designated for year round training are closed between March 15 and July 15 during wildlife nesting season.

Bird Watching: Chichaqua Bottoms Greenbelt is designated as a Bird Conservation Area by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and an Important Bird Area by the Audubon Society. Chichaqua, in conjunction with the Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge, encompasses about 76,500 acres, 15,000 acres of which are protected for wildlife. Click here to download a brochure about this Bird Conservation Area which includes a field guide checklist and to watch a video to learn more about some common Iowa backyard birds.

Other Activities Other Activities at Fort Des Moines Park
An accessible playground lies adjacent to Shelter #2
Other Activities Other Activities at Thomas Mitchell Park
A ball field is located near Shelter #1 and is reservable with a shelter reservation. It is available on a first come basis when shelter is not reserved.

A universally designed play area provides accessible walkways connecting the playground, restrooms, shelters, and ball field. The playground has an average of 50 different activities and are constructed using recycled materials. Some of the activities include slides, swings, tunnels, sliding poles, cargo nets, ramps, bridges, lookout towers, and activity panels.



Other Activities Other Activities at Yellow Banks Park
Playgrounds
Yellow Banks will has two playgrounds. An ADA playground is located by the ball fields near Ball Diamond Shelter.
A second playground is located at entrance of the park and is not ADA accessible at this time.

Ballfield
Yellow Banks's excellent ballfields are located just beyond Prairieview Shelter and popular with neighborhood little league teams.


Other Activities Other Activities at Carney Marsh
Birding is a popular activity among marsh visitors. Seasonal birds frequent the marsh, including herons, yellow-headed and red-winged blackbirds, yellow-throated warblers, and various waterfowl.
Picnicking Picnicking at Mally's Weh-Weh-Neh-Kee Park
Picnic grills and tables available
Picnicking Picnicking at Yellow Banks Park
Yellow Banks Park features three shelters and picnic areas on a beautiful bluff overlooking the Des Moines River. Picnic tables with grills are scattered throughout the park
Picnicking Picnicking at Easter Lake Park
Five picnic shelters are available by reservation or on a first-come basis. Several offer views of the lake and others are located in private, wooded settings. Picnic tables with grills are scattered throughout the park.
Picnicking Picnicking at Fort Des Moines Park
Three picnic shelters are available by reservation or on a first-come basis. Picnic tables with grills are scattered throughout the park.
Picnicking Picnicking at Thomas Mitchell Park
Two picnic shelters are available by reservation or on a first come first serve basis. 

Numerous picnic tables are scattered throughout the park.
Picnicking Picnicking at Chichaqua Bottoms Greenbelt
Several areas are available for family picnics. Tables, charcoal grills and trash cans are provided with restrooms nearby.
Picnicking Picnicking at Jester, Lewis A., Park

Five picnic shelters are available by reservation or on a first-come basis. Several offer views of the lake and others are located in private, wooded settings. Picnic tables with grills are scattered throughout the park.

Picnicing is also available at the Jester Park Nature Center on the outdoor patios.

Swimming Swimming at Easter Lake Park
You can enjoy swimming at the Easter Lake Park Beach during the summer months.
The beach is open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day of the week.
Beach use is FREE but there is no lifeguard on duty.

**Restoration efforts in Easter Lake will result in the closure of the swimming beach and boat ramp in 2017 and 2018. All forms of watercraft will be prohibited until lake restoration efforts have been completed and water levels are adequate and safe.
Trails & Hiking Trails & Hiking at Easter Lake Park
The Wymore Trail is located in the woods between shelters # 3 and #4 on the south side of the lake. Several trail heads provide access to this 0.9 mile trails. Catch a glimpse of beautiful Easter Lake as you walk along this densely wooded trail.  Trail information and park maps may be found on our website at www.leadingyououtdoors.org or by clicking on this link: PARKS AND TRAILS

Trails & Hiking Trails & Hiking at Yellow Banks Park
Trail numbers refer to map locations. Park maps and trail information is available on our website at www.leadingyououtdoors.org or by clicking on this link: PARKS AND TRAILS
Backpacker Trail (#1) 3/4 mile trail from pond to backpacking campsite.

Indian Mound Loop (#2) 1/4 mile trail from park road to Native American burial mound.

Savanna Trail (#3) 1/2 mile loop. On this trail, you can introduce yourself to some of the oldest residents. This trail guides you past some of the last remaining savanna oak trees in Polk County, some are estimated to be more than 250 years old.

Bluff Overlook Trail (#4) 1/2 mile trail from playground to overlook of river valley.

Eagle view Trail (#5) 1/4 mile trail from park road to overlook of river valley.

Pond Trail (#6) 1/2 mile trail from park road to pond


Trails & Hiking Trails & Hiking at Brown's Woods
Brown's Woods can only be explored on foot or cross-country skis. The trails are sensitive to erosion and cannot withstand wear caused by horses, bicycles, or motorized vehicles. The front loop is .4 miles and the back loop is 1.5 miles in length. Both trails are moderately hilly.

Trail information and park maps can be found on our website at www.leadingyououtdoors.org or by clicking this link: PARKS AND TRAILS
Trails & Hiking Trails & Hiking at Thomas Mitchell Park
Devoite Trail: This ridge top trail is part of the old stagecoach trail which continued on to Fort Des Moines and beyond.  The stagecoach would make stops at Thomas Mitchell's cabin while traveling along this trail. 
Difficulty: Moderate

For more trail information and park maps, please visit our website at www.leadingyououtdoors.org or clicking on the following link: PARKS AND TRAILS

Trails & Hiking Trails & Hiking at Fort Des Moines Park
Listen for chattering chipmunks, scolding blue jays, and whispering wind along the 0.7 mile wooded nature trail. This nature trail winds through a tapestry of sunlight, shadows, and greenery. You can access the trail by parking at shelter #1 and hiking across the dam. For trail and park information please visit our website at www.leadingyououtdoors.org or click on the following link: PARKS AND TRAILS

Trails & Hiking Trails & Hiking at Jester, Lewis A., Park
Jester Park offers more than 8 miles of trails to explore, including the Lakeshore Trail along Saylorville Lake, Hickory Ridge trail near the bison-elk display and Campers Loop. The Stagecoach Trail brings one to an especially scenic view of the lake. The Red Pine and Red Cedar trails are perfect short hikes for young children. 

Basswood Trail  - 0.3 mile trail winds through the woods from the park entrance, past the Lodge, and to Camp Area 3.

Camper's Loop -  0.3 mile loop is located near Camp Area 2 and is great for a leisurely stroll.

Stagecoach Trail - 0.2 mile trail leads hikers from the park road to Camp Area 4.

Red Cedar Trail - 0.4 mile loop east of Camp Area 5, perfect for a night hike.

Red Pine Trail - 0.4 mile loop west of Camp Area 5.

Hickory Ridge Trail - 0.7 mile trail from the kiosk to the wildlife exhibit.

Lakeshore Trail  -4.6 mile trail begins at Mile Long Bridge traveling north along Saylorville Lake. Snowmobiles, horses and hikers are permitted on this trail.

Discovery Trail - just under 0.5 miles of accessible trail leading to and from the nature center and around Discovery Pond with a pedestrian boardwalk.

Portions of these trails are groomed for cross country skiing in the winter.

For more trail information or a park maps, please visit our website at www.leadingyououtdoors.org or click on the following link: PARKS AND TRAILS






Trails & Hiking Trails & Hiking at Chichaqua Valley Trail
This scenic recreational trail begins just east of Bondurant and extends for 20 miles to the Jasper County town of Baxter. This trail is paved from beginning to end.
Trails & Hiking Trails & Hiking at Chichaqua Bottoms Greenbelt
There are several established trails within Chichaqua Bottoms Greenbelt. Trail information and park maps can be found on our website at www.leadingyououtdoors.org or by clicking on this link: PARKS AND TRAILS

Cardinal Flower Trail: .8 mile loop begins and ends near the historic bridge. This tranquil trail winds along the old ox-bows of the Skunk River. Keep an eye out for great blue herons, wood ducks, and river otters.
Difficulty: Easy

Jack Pine Trail: .9 mile trail crosses the historic bridge and follows the river to the west.
Difficulty: Easy

Otter Trail: 2.6 mile trail from the south end of the Cardinal Flower Trail to the southeast corner of the marsh and back to the office. Closed September 1 to the end of waterfowl hunting season.
Difficulty: Easy

Wood Duck Trail: .25 mile trail between the Longhouse and Area #2.
Difficulty: Easy

Trails & Hiking Trails & Hiking at Sycamore Trail
The 6.5 mile Sycamore Trail will take you through some of the most wild and scenic areas of the Des Moines metro area. Abundant wildlife and views of the Des Moines River will keep you pedaling to find what’s around the next bend in the trail.

Please observe the International Mountain Bike Association's "Rules of the Trail" while riding on the Sycamore Trail. https://www.imba.com

Trailheads are located at the east end of the parking lot at 2309 Euclid Avenue in Des Moines and on NW 66th Avenue, about one mile east of Beaver Avenue in Johnston. Follow signs along the trail to direct you on the correct path.

For more trail information and park maps, please visit our website at www.leadingyououtdoors.org or by clicking on the following link: PARKS AND TRAILS
Trails & Hiking Trails & Hiking at Gay Lea Wilson Trail
The Gay Lea Wilson Trail, when completed, will extend for approximately 35 miles throughout the eastern and northern parts of Polk County. The trail will also make up the lower portion of a 110-mile Central Iowa Trail Loop that will connect existing parks, trails, and businesses in five counties. Polk County Conservation Board currently owns and manages the four mile trail segment between Pleasant Hill and Altoona.

Trails & Hiking Trails & Hiking at Great Western Trail
This 16.5 mile recreational trail begins near Water Works Park in Des Moines and ends in the Warren County town of Martensdale. Parking is available at the trailhead on Valley Drive/George Flagg Pkwy. near Park Avenue. The trail has a asphalt surface.
Trails & Hiking Trails & Hiking at High Trestle Trail
Motorized vehicles are prohibited on all trails within PCCB lands. The only exceptions are for maintenance, law enforcement, and emergency vehicles. This restriction does not apply to a manual-operated or power-driven device designed primarily for use by an individual with a mobility disability, e.g. wheel chair.
Trails & Hiking Trails & Hiking at Trestle to Trestle Trail
This 10' wide asphalt trail connects the Inter Urban Trestle Bridge (south of the Euclid Bridge) to the Trestle Bridge (north of I-80/35) connecting to the Johnston trail system. Trailheads are located at River Place off Euclid Avenue (on the west side of the Des Moines River) and on NW Lower Beaver Drive (just east of NW Beaver Drive).
 
Motorized vehicles are prohibited on all trails within PCCB lands. The only exceptions are for maintenance, law enforcement, and emergency vehicles. This restriction does not apply to a manual-operated or power-driven device designed primarily for use by an individual with a mobility disability, e.g. wheel chair.

More trail information and park maps can be found on our website at www.leadingyououtdoors.org or by clicking on the following link: PARKS AND TRAILS
Winter Activities Winter Activities at Chichaqua Bottoms Greenbelt

Cross Country Skiing
If it’s a flat trail you’re looking for, then check out Chichaqua Bottoms Greenbelt. Trails will wind through the woodlands, following the old Skunk River channel. You may see deer, fox, and otter tracks along the trail. Many different loops will be groomed, all beginning from the campground.

Ski equipment can be rented at the Jester Park Outdoor Recreation and Wellness Center. Call 515-323-5330 for more information. To visit our website click here: Jester Park Equipment Rental information

Winter Activities Winter Activities at Jester, Lewis A., Park
Snowmobiling
The 5-1/2 mile Lakeshore Trail is open for snowmobiling when snow conditions permit and offers a beautiful ride alongside Saylorville Lake. For an update on trail conditions, call the park ranger at ​515-249-3229.

Cross Country Skiing
At Jester Park you’ll have an opportunity to ski over 3.5 miles of trails. Shelter # 2 will serve as the trailhead. Due to drifting, the majority of trails on the golf course have been closed. Trails will lead skiers through the woods, near Saylorville Lake, and along the edge of the golf course. Rent cross country skis at the Outdoor Recreation and Wellness Center. Call 515-323-5330 for more information or visit our website: Jester Park Equipment Rental information

Snowshoeing
Snowshoeing can be enjoyed by anyone just about anywhere in Polk County. The only places to avoid snowshoeing are on groomed cross-country ski trails (found at Jester Park and Chichaqua Bottoms Greenbelt) and golf courses. Rent snowshoes at the Outdoor Recreation and Wellness Center. For more information call (515) 323-5330 or visit click here to visit the website: Jester Park Equipment Rental information
Winter Activities Winter Activities at Thomas Mitchell Park
Snowmobiling is allowed east of the creek.