Des Moines Outdoors: Heartland Hiking
Living in the city doesn’t mean you can’t get your shoes muddy every now and then. The Des Moines has an abundance of parks and trails to hit this spring. We’ve already mentioned some popular trails around town; let’s take a look at three often overlooked but worthwhile parks and conservation areas with hiking trails along the edges of Des Moines.
- Fort Des Moines Park – 1.9 miles
Fort Des Moines Park lies on the southernmost part of Polk County, about three miles southeast of the Des Moines International Airport. The park’s loop trail guides visitors around a fishing pond and through native Iowa prairie, making this hidden gem a must-see in summer months. The 1.9 mile-long trail can be modified to be about 1 mile if desired–check posted trail maps at the park for details.
- Brown’s Woods – 3.2 miles
Brown’s Woods is a quick drive west of the airport, and has shorter loops for those who might not have the time for a 3 mile hike. Sloping hillsides lead the way through some of the most heavily-forested areas managed by Polk County Conservation.
- Yellow Banks Park – 3.1 miles
Yellow Banks Park is about a 15-minute drive from downtown Des Moines, but you would never guess by the amount of wildlife and quiet sounds. The park’s trail cuts around two ponds, grassy and forested hillsides, and has recreation areas for baseball, camping, and fishing.
These paths might be close to Des Moines, but you should still prepare before embarking on a hike, especially on a new trail. Be sure to stay hydrated before heading out for your adventure, and bring plenty of water with you to drink during and after your hike. Putting sunscreen on before leaving the house is always a good idea, even on cloudy days, and wearing a hat to protect your face from the sun can also prevent surprise sunburns. It’s always helpful to review trail routes before you get to the park or hiking area just in case you lose cell service and need to exit on a whim.
Above all, remember to have fun and soak up the sights and sounds of nature as you head to the great Des Moines Outdoors!