Mark C. Ackelson Trail

Posted on December 5, 2018 in Blog

Ackelson Bridge

Photo provided courtesy of Great Outdoors Foundation.

This fall, construction will be complete on a new six-mile trail around Easter Lake on the southeast side of Des Moines. The Ackelson Trail, named for former INHF president Mark C. Ackelson, will provide cycling, skating and hiking opportunities. On the lake, visitors can fish, canoe, kayak and paddle board. Polk County Conservation plans to offer bikes, canoes, kayaks and fishing equipment for rental beginning in 2019. The trail project is part of a larger restoration initiative at Easter Lake.

“Ackelson’s devoted passion for conservation and outdoor recreation helped provide hundreds of miles of trails across the state, supporting local trailside communities and getting Iowans outdoors,” said Adam Fendrick, park planner for Polk County Conservation.

Ackelson worked at INHF for 33 years, becoming president in 1994. In his time with INHF, Ackelson served as a visionary for Iowa’s trail system and oversaw the development of some of the state’s most popular trails, including the Cedar Valley Nature Trail, the Wabash Trace Nature Trail and the Raccoon River Valley Trail.

The Ackelson Trail is being completed in three phases, which include improving water quality to the lake through rain gardens and a bio retention cell. The last phase includes construction of a 445-foot pedestrian bridge on the west side of the lake, to be completed this fall.

“Mark’s leadership was instrumental in creating trails in Iowa,” said Lisa Hein, INHF senior director for conservation programs. “We’re proud to see him honored this way.”

To contribute to the project, visit