Parks of Gay Lea Wilson Trail

By Taylor on May 19, 2015 in Blog

Featured on the Iowa By Trail app, Gay Lea Wilson Trail extends for 35 miles in Polk County, through Des Moines, Altoona, Pleasant Hill and Ankeny. Along the way, six parks–we feature five here–offer riders a chance to take a break and enjoy Iowa’s natural beauty.

IMG_1760Prairie Heritage Park
A small creek runs in Prairie Heritage Park runs through a residential neighborhood, surrounded by a winding concrete pathway on either side. Benches then line the walk with small wooden awning overhead.

The creek flows out of the small pond–a wetland preserve–in the park. Geese strut on the walk and coast on the water, while mallards sleep on the nearby grass. A cat lurks by what looks like a giant drainage tunnel, which actually connects the pathways and has excellent acoustics.

Beyond the pond, a collection of community gardens invites visitors to walk through them, spotting bur oak, chokeberry and witch hazel, among other plants. There’s a rain garden, pantry garden (where all produce grown goes to local pantries) and a HyVee One Step garden.

Windchimes ting among the many sculptures in the gardens, including a giant praying mantis–just as cool as it sound–and a small, open-air pavilion waits nearby for visitors to stop and enjoy the atmosphere.

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IMG_177917th Ave. Dog Park
Right off the trail, a small enclosure houses everything a dog could want for resting, running or playing.

For those without a furry friend, native prairie lines the side of the park, offering visitors a chance to take a break from riding and admire Iowa’s natural beauty (and maybe sneak a few peeks at the dogs).

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sunset parkSunset Park
Across from a cemetery, this park is smaller, offering views of greenery and wildlife–particularly squirrels and geese. From time to time, soccer goals may be set up.

IMG_1798Doanes Park
This oak savanna park is great for kiddos. A playground, swings, tennis courts and baseball diamonds all await visiting families.

A picnic table atop one of the hills at Doanes Park houses picnic tables and grills, and a gazebo stage can be used for entertainment.

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gay leaEagle Ridge Park

A small wooden bridge crosses a narrow creek, leading to the scenic Eagle Ridge.

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