Take a hike!

Gray's Lake trail

Our students love to explore Des Moines. Here are D.P.M. student Benjamin Thomas’s top 5 trail picks:

One of the best things about the Des Moines area is the number of great parks and trails available. Sometimes the only reason we don’t use more of them is simply because we don’t know where to find them. Here are just a few you may want to check out if you haven’t already:

Gray’s Lake is located on Fleur Dr between Grand and Park, only a couple miles from the DMU campus. It has a 1.91 mile paved path around the lake which includes a ¼ mile pedestrian bridge over the lake. The park is open from 5 a.m. to midnight from April to October, with the trail lit after dark.

Raccoon River Park has a 3.2 mile (5k) trail around Blue Heron Lake. Most of the trail is made of crushed gravel and has a scenic stretch on the far side of the lake near the Raccoon River. This part of the trail is not lit. The park is in West Des Moines on Grand Ave., just south of Fuller Rd.

Greenwood Park is ideal for a bike ride, with the Bill Riley Trail extending 1.6 miles and then connecting to the 16.5 mile Great Western Trail. Many students are already familiar with the park due to its proximity to DMU. It is located on Grand Ave. between 45th and 48th streets.

The Chichaqua Valley Trail
runs on a former railroad bed and attracts mountain bikers or, I suppose, marathon runners. It stretches over about 20 miles, running from NE 88th St, 1 mile east of Bondurant to W. State St. in Baxter (northeast of Des Moines).

There is a paved path that follows Walnut Creek and the Raccoon River from somewhere near Raccoon River Park in WDM, eventually connecting to the Raccoon River Valley Trail just southwest of the Hickman and 128th intersection in Clive. There is also a connection to the Bill Riley Trail at the bridge over Walnut Creek on N. Valley Dr. in Des Moines. Some popular places to get on this extensive network of trails are near the Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club on 73rd, at the Campbell Recreation Area just south of Hickman on NW 123rd St. in Clive, or just behind the McDonald’s at 63rd and Grand. In Clive alone the trail covers 11.3 miles (Clive Greenbelt Trail). Some parts of the trail may be closed for flooding this time of year.

Find a complete list of Des Moines trails here.

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