Creek-Walking in Des Moines and Central Iowa

Where to go exploring in Des Moines


Summer is a great time to get out and explore and get a little wet!

From a very young age, my boys loved the outdoors. One of our favorite things to do is jump in the car and go hiking. This usually leads to stomping around and exploring a creek nearby. Our go-to place is Ledges State Park in Madrid, but there are a few places around town we love as well.

Des Moines Parks with Creek Walking or Water

  • Jester Park, 11121 Jester Park Drive, Granger
  • Greenwood Park, 4500 Grand Ave, Des Moines
  • Thomas Mitchell Park, 4250 NE 108th St, Mitchellville
  • Brown’s Woods, 195 SE Brown’s Woods Ct., West Des Moines
  • Easter Lake Park, 2830 Easter Lake Dr, Des Moines
  • Raccoon River Park, 2500 Grand Ave, West Des Moines
  • Gray’s Lake Park, 2101 Fleur Dr, Des Moines

Bike Paths that Follow Creeks

State Parks in the Area

Interesting Places to Explore

Maffitt Lake 12460 Maffitt Lake Road, Cumming, Iowa

Ankeny DMACC Pond
There’s a great place for sliding down the drainage pipe

Fort Des Moines Park 7200 SE 5th St, Des Moines
Features a fishing pond and trail

Tips for Creek Walking

My biggest piece of advice when going creek stomping is to be prepared.

  • You want either an old pair of tennis shoes or shoes specifically made for the water. NO flip-flops or something that will slide off easily.
  • My favorite creek-walking shoes ever are speedos similar to these.
  • Pack a towel and an extra set of clothes for the walk/ride/bike trip home. There is nothing worse than a 45-minute car ride back in wet, muddy clothes because you weren’t expecting to get in the water.
  • Pro Tip: Just keep an extra bag in your car this summer, especially since most pools are closed for 2020.

There are a lot of cool places to explore in the Des Moines metro area, and as long as you’re careful to avoid poison ivy, oak, and sumac, or an area that has been used as a party zone with broken glass everywhere, you and your kids will have some good old-fashioned fun and experience play the way it used to be.

Where do you like to play in the water? 

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Jennifer is a single mom of two boys. She does her best to get to places on time, despite being a chronically late person and the fact that neither she or her boys are morning people. She recently went back into the classroom after staying home for nine years to raise her kids, and she credits her sanity and success at this endeavor to the fact that she has incredibly supportive parents, family, and friends. She also has a network of single moms that truly “get it” and who encourage her on a daily basis. When she’s not hanging out with her kiddos, Jennifer enjoys writing at a coffee shop, trying new restaurants, or catching up with friends.


  1. Thank you so much for the information on creek walking and parks. I grew up in Colorado and recently moved from Montana and love the outdoors. My boys are all grown, but one still
    Lives here and I m excited to try your places out!!!




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