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When looking to start living a more active lifestyle, walking can be one of the easiest and less intense forms of exercise. Adding a few more steps into your day can have great physical and mental benefits such as reduce stress, increase blood flow and circulation, as well as slow the development of arthritis and bone mass loss.

There is always the treadmill option, but one of the benefits of living in the Des Moines Metro and central Iowa is the amount of parks and trails available to enjoy. Not to mention, walking outdoors is a good way to explore the community, get fresh air, and connect with nature. According to an article from the Des Moines Register, about 7% of the Des Moines metro’s 147,269 acres is parkland.

Looking to lead a more active lifestyle and strengthen your bones and joints? Here are eight parks and trails in the Des Moines community perfect for walks of any distance.

Kruidenier Trail, Gray’s Lake Park (Downtown/Southeast side)

Kruidenier Trail is a 1.9 mile walking path around Gray’s Lake overlooking the vibrant skyline of downtown Des Moines from the colorful lighted bridge. The trail’s surface is asphalt and concrete. Gray’s Lake Park also offers rentals for bikes, canoes, paddle boards, and more.

Principal Riverwalk (Downtown)

The Principal Riverwalk is a 1.2 mile loop that connects the east and west sides of downtown Des Moines with two beautiful bridges. This riverwalk is the downtown end point of Meredith Trail, which is the link between downtown and Gray’s Lake. Besides connecting other recreational walking paths in Des Moines, the Principal Riverwalk features an outdoor ice skating rink during the late fall and wintertime.

Copper Creek Lake Park (Pleasant Hill)

Copper Creek Lake Park offers a 1.22 mile lighted trail circling the 40-acre lake in Pleasant Hill, about 11 minute drive from Des Moines. This trail offers stunning sunsets you can gaze at from the multiple hanging swing benches along the pathway.

Raccoon River Park (West Des Moines)

Raccoon River Park offers a multi-use 3.2 mile trail around Blue Heron Lake at the center of the park. Part of the trail weaves between both the lake and Raccoon River, with off trail beaches that make for gorgeous stops along the walk.

Clive Greenbelt Trail (Clive)

The Clive Greenbelt Trail is a perfect walk for those looking for a bit of a longer stroll that offers multiple entrance points and connections. This 11.3 mile trail has many key points including a gorgeous bridge over the creek and small waterfalls.

Easter Lake Park (Southeast Side)

The Mark C Ackelson Trail at Easter Lake Park is a 4.1 mile paved path around the newly redone lake offering scenic views and Owen’s Covered Bridge on the southern lake shore, which sits beautifully in the fall time when the leaves change color. The pathway is also accessible from Ewing Park and offers playground areas and fishing spots.

High Trestle Trail (Madrid/Ankeny)

The High Trestle Trail Bridge is a portion of the full 28 mile High Trestle Trail that runs through several counties and towns in Central Iowa. The closest parking lot to the trail is located in Madrid, IA, and is 3⁄4 mile from the parking lot to the 1⁄2 mile long 13-story bridge over the Des Moine River. The Bridge offers vast views of Iowa beauty and steel frames lit up in blue after sunset.

Ledges State Park (Boone)

Ledges State Park in Boone has 5 walking trails ranging from 1.2 to 1.7 miles, including the 1-mile Crow’s Nest Trail known for its scenic overlook. The hiking trails are surrounded with beautiful sandstone cliffs and dense forest making the Ledges a must for anyone who enjoys long walks in nature.

If you have not been exposed to longer walks or physical activity for an extended period of time, there is a chance you may experience some soreness when beginning to form a walking routine or getting back into an active lifestyle. You may want to consider these 3 tips to prevent injuries when exercising.

If pain persists, consider scheduling an appointment with one of our DMOS physicians or physical therapists or visiting one of our urgent injury clinics.


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