1 Mile Semi-Loop Trail at Walnut Woods State Park

trail for kids at walnut wood state park des moines iowa

Walnut Woods State Park is a gem, and one of our favorite parks when my kids were younger. There are several trails, but we like this one so much we haven’t ever explored further! This is a loop-ish trail; the trail itself is a U and then it’s an easy walk through the open grass to get back to the beginning. My kids love this trail because the way we hike it, there is a playground at the end! It makes for a great motivator. It’s also a great place to see fall leaves, earning it a spot on this list!

You can find more details like the address and link to the official website in the main Walnut Woods page, here.


Driving into the park from the main entrance, you’ll drive in and follow the one lane straight back, passing the lodge on your right and the playground on your left. You’re looking for this sign, and can park in the loop of driveway. There is a separate path to get back to the little bird blind, which is fun, too!


You’ll head to the right of the bird blind for the start of this trail, and follow it, choosing left each time you’re give an option.

walnut woods state park des moines iowa

It’s mainly shaded, with beautiful sun shining through and interesting leaves to check out.


Somewhere close to 1/3 of the way through, you can find this nice little spot to peek out at the water. It isn’t right off the main trail, so not a huge risk for runners. If the water is low, you can walk down but it’s pretty steep. You’ll keep walking, following the trail without any turns past this point, through some dirt trail and up through some sand, finally peeking out to the playground!


It’s a cute little playground; my kids love the sandbox and big rock. A couple swings and short playground structure will keep them busy for a while, and then walk straight across the open grass field back to where you parked.


Here is the trail, from the top! It is very flat, with a few patches that get sloppy in wet weather but nothing terrible. It’s very shady, and can get buggy during summer. We love this trail – have you hiked it? Let me know what you think!

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