Polk County Conservation

12. Great Western Trail

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Update related to 2014 Construction Update...

Old Army Post Rd. is scheduled to close to all traffic on Tuesday, May 6th.  At that time, bridge demolition will begin in the east bridge spans.

The trail will be detoured on compacted asphalt millings (NOT paved) that takes the trail under the west bridge span. There will be safety fence and 8 ft. chain link fence isolating the detoured trail area and the area of bridge demolition.  This fence will be going up on the 5th and the trail will get detoured on 6th. It is planned that the east spans are to be removed in 10 working days (rain days don’t count).  After that, the trail will be detoured/shifted over to the east span, and bridge demolition will begin for the west half of the bridge.  Again, this portion of the trail will be compacted asphalt millings.

Click Here for a 2014 Trail Season Construction Update 


Martensdale to Des Moines – 16.5 Miles

This 16.5 mile recreational trail begins near Water Works Park in Des Moines and ends in the Warren County town of Martensdale.

Parking is available at the trailhead on Valley Drive/George Flagg Parkway near Park Avenue. The trail has an asphalt surface. The Great Western Trail opened in 1992, a hundred years after its establishment as a rail line from Des Moines to St. Joseph, Missouri.

It is named for the Chicago Great Western Company whose trains operated on this line from 1892 to 1968.

Motorized vehicles are prohibited on all trails within PCCB lands. The only exceptions are for maintenance, law enforcement, and emergency vehicles. This restriction does not apply to a manual-operated or power-driven device designed primarily for use by an individual with a mobility disability, e.g. wheel chair.


The City of Des Moines is faced with a deteriorating bridge on the trail (at Army Post Road) that is large enough to span a train.  There needed to be a solution that allowed the trail to remain open but didn’t require the replacement of the large bridge.

The City is undertaking the building of a new box culvert to the west of the existing bridge opening.  That culvert will be completed, new trail connections established, and the trail will be permanently rerouted before the demolition and removal of the bridge.

We have worked cooperatively with the City to ensure that the trail will be closed for a minimum time during the summer of 2014 (only long enough to tie the new trail into the existing).The bridge will be demolished and the gap in the road rebuilt after the new trail is opened.

We would like to notify trail users about this authorized construction that is taking place adjacent to the trail and that there may be equipment on the trail at times.  The contractor will have flaggers and cautionary signage whenever that is necessary.  We hope that disruptions are minimal.

Contact Us

Administration Office
11407 NW Jester Park Drive
Granger, IA 50109

P: (515) 323-5300
F: (515) 323-5354

Monday – Friday, 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

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