Soper's Mill



Soper’s Mill is a 16-acre historic site on the Skunk River. Bird watching, geocaching, and several other activities are possible however we do not have picnic tables or grills available. Recreational opportunities include canoeing, kayaking, stream fishing, hiking, and forest/upland hunting (see additional information below). 

Soper's Mill is open to pedestrians and off-road bicyclists only from Soper's Mill to Bear Creek.

Soper's Mill is part of the Skunk River Greenbelt. The Skunk River Greenbelt features 620 acres with deer, furbearers, and small game.  Some greenbelt properties are posted "No Hunting." Other areas are easements and not available for public hunting. Observe boundary signs. Trapping is allowed in the public hunting areas. No target shooting is allowed. Only non-toxic ammunition is allowed. All state hunting laws apply. Hunters must possess the proper license(s). Please remember to get permission when hunting within 200 yards of any occupied building, even when hunting on public land. For a complete listing of all state hunting regulations, visit www. or contact the IDNR in Des Moines at 515-281-5918.  Pets must be kept on leashes at all times. Pets shall be deemed as running at large unless the owner carries such animal or leads it by a leash or chain not exceeding six feet in length, or keeps it confined in or attached to a vehicle. Hunting dogs are permitted in designated hunting areas for training, exercise, or hunting, but must be kept on leashes from March 15 to July 15 and must be kept under control at all times.

Public Hunting Brochure


Public Fishing Brochure


Skunk River Greenbelt Trails Map


Water Trail – South Skunk River Map


SCC Rules and Regulations




The original namesake mill was reportedly built within the park’s boundaries in 1856 as a sawmill that was replaced with a grist mill just years later. Under numerous owners, the successful mill continued grinding large quantities of buckwheat meal and flour, running at full capacity day and night to scarcely meet demand. By the 1890s, mill operations ceased due to a water supply too low to provide sufficient power to run the machinery. The site became a popular area for fishing, picnics, and celebrations in the years to follow. The dam washed away in 1909 and remains were torn down in the 1930s, although the area remained a local favorite for outdoor recreation that has continued to present day. In 2005, this area was improved with the installation of a rock riffle utilizing the aid of a State Fish Habitat Grant. With certain water levels, it is very common to see paddlers navigate through the rock riffle just to portage their craft back upstream to repeatedly enjoy the rock riffle and is equally popular with anglers. While some users believe this riffle is the site of the historic mill, it has only existed since the early 2000s.


Soper’s Mill–North (56501 170th St., Ames, 50010) East of river

Soper’s Mill–South (56364 170th St., Ames, 50010) West of river at intersection of 170th Street and 563rd Avenue

Operating Hours & Seasons

Park Hours are 5:00 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. daily.


This area is open year round.