Margo Frankel Woods State Park is a hidden gem with a minimal internet presence, but I have been there myself and can promise it’s worth the trip! The first playground, right as you drive in, is fun, with a shaded shelter tucked back in the woods. The trail is a little hidden, tucked behind the red gate on the south side of the parking lot. Along that trail, you’ll see a long wooden staircase going up, and there is another playground and shelter up there.
Name: Margo Frankel Woods State Park
Address: 6245 NW 2nd st Des Moines, Iowa 50313
Type: Places to hike and places to play
Shade: Yes, shaded shelter and shaded trails
Trails: Yes, gravel/dirt
Water: Yes, creek
Other notes: The trail is located south of the parking lot, behind the gate. When you see a large staircase, it leads up to a second playground/shelter. If it isn’t muddy, these trails would be jogging stroller friendly. There is a sign that says “to reserve this shelter call 289-1089” for the “secret park” up above (though there is a driveway back there that I assume they open if you rent it).
The history behind the namesake: http://www.matsonforiowa.com/things-we-love-thursday-margo-frankel-woods-state-park/
Official Website: None? I cannot find one. It is called a state park but managed by Saylor Township, which has no website.
Other things nearby of note:
- Smokey D’s BBQ is nearby and tasty
If you’re looking for other places to get outside, check back in with the interactive map!
This is the main playground, that you’ll see as you enter.
The trail is to the left of this gate, which you can clearly see at the southern end of the parking lot.
This is the staircase that leads up to a second park, as shown on the map above, you can alternately walk past the gate and walk to the playground. All of the following pictures are of the “secret” playground.
Have you been here? Leave a comment and let people know what you think!
10 thoughts on “Margo Frankel Woods State Park – Des Moines, Iowa”
I was wondering where I could call and find out where i can rent the shelter at the park at.
Hi Karen, you would have to call Saylorville Township, they manage that area!
I’ve driven past and wondered about this place! I love the idea of a secret playground. We’ll definitely put it on our list of places to check out!
When I first dropped by, I couldn’t find a single thing about it online or on Facebook, I don’t know why it is a state park but not on the DNR website. It added to the allure! It’s a fun spot, we are big fans 🙂
First & foremost this park is NOT managed by Sayloville Township, it’s actually SAYLOR Township, not Saylorville! Please correct, I spent hours googling. I reached out to DNR and Polk County Conservation and all directed me to Saylor Township. The best number to get a hold of them is 515-289-1089. Good luck! I just left a message and will include any updates on reserving this park if and when they reach back out to me, thanks!
We will update! Thanks!
I was able to get a hold of a volunteer for Saylor Township, cost is $50 to reserve the “secret park” + a $100 deposit which is fully refundable given the park is in the same shape it was when you arrived, clean. The also only allow reservations from April – end of October. Thanks!
We loved it. One trail was a bit hard to find….you need to cross the ravine (it is dry and there are 2 concrete pipes you need to cross…this is well before the huge staircase)…..You feel like you are in a large wilderness. We will definitely go back. Beautiful….we really enjoyed the fall colors.