I love getting out in the outdoors with my kids. The problem is, my kiddos don’t always want to go on a 5-10 mile hike like me. So one of my favorite hiking trails to take them on is the one at Zo-El Annett Woods. Zo-El is a short drive south of Des Moines (around 30 minutes, depending on where you are coming from) down highway 28 thru the town of Norwalk. The wooded trail here is a smaller loop that any age level can handle. You get some natural elevation changes along with some stairs to climb and a wonderful suspension bridge to cross over. Plan to spend some time on the bridge to let your kiddos jump and play around!
The woods here are beautiful and woodland flowers during the Spring bring wonderful scents to your nose. Along the trail, there are some benches to rest or just sit and reflect at the beauty in front of you. If you get the urge to head out later at night, the park is open until 10pm, and I have had heard many owl calls, which the kids always love to mimic.
At the end of your loop, you will find yourself at a little picnic area. There is a larger fire ring and some smaller grills as well. This is a perfect place to start a fire and prepare some s’mores. In fact sometimes the promise of a fire and s’mores at the end of the hike powers my kids through the trail!
Some things of note. There are no bathrooms. The only bathroom is in the woods! So be prepared to become one with nature if you need to go. The other great thing about Zo-El is there aren’t too many people there! Because having a ton of people around really does take away from the beauty of nature.
If you are looking for a kid-friendly outdoor experience and somewhere new to try out, definitely head south to Zo-El Annett Woods.
Guest Post by Thomas Brogan: Thomas is a father of 2 kids (7 and 9), outdoor enthusiast and Des Moines native. During the day, he dabbles in local Government and by night/weekend enjoys spending time with his family, hiking, reading, volunteering for Main Street School and working on solving the world’s problems.