Scavenger Hunt at Strasser Woods State Preserve

Published 11/11/2022 11:01:35 AM

Nestled on the East side of Des Moines, near the fairgrounds, is 40 acres of trees. The Strasser Woods State Preserve not only has trails to enjoy the trees but is the home to many wild animals. Due to the sensitivity to erosion horses, bicycles, and motorized vehicles are not allowed. There are two trails the first is .2 mile into the woods while the second is a .25 mile trail leading to the paved Gay Lea Wilson Trail.

 While the woods are serene and have a great atmosphere, they can also be the backdrop to fun and imaginative games if you have children who need to be entertained. Turn your time at the Strasser Woods State Preserve into a scavenger hunt! Counting birds’ nests, hunting for materials for your nature bracelets, spotting wildlife, and picking up trash are all great ways to engage your young ones.

Birds Nest

While traversing the trails take a moment to look up. You will be astounded by the number of birds’ nests in the trees. Late autumn to early spring is an excellent time to go and be able to see the nests clearly. Keep count of how many you see during the walk and compare the numbers, or keep track allowed as you spot them.

 Click here for a list of all birds spotted at Strasser:

Nature Bracelets

Nature Bracelets are a fun way to keep younger kids engaged with the nature around them. Taking clear packing tape make a bracelet so the sticky side is facing outwards. Then as you walk through the park you can collect nuts, fruit, and fallen leaves. Place the newfound treasures onto the tape, by the end of the walk you will have a nature decorated bracelet. Being able to collect pieces of nature as they walk allows kids to stay engaged throughout the whole walk, empowers them to search for what they enjoy, and cultivates an interest in nature.


Strasser Wood State Preserve is home to many birds. Woodpeckers, warblers, flycatchers, owls, and waterfowl are the species spotted regularly, but if you’re lucky you may see a Bald Eagle or Pelican. Strasser is home to more than just birds, there are squirrels, deer, and other small wildlife. If you are quiet, you may see a Buck rubbing his antlers against a tree, or deer grazing. Keep your eyes peeled and track what wildlife you see while hiking.

Litter Patrol

Another great way to entertain yourself and help keep our parks pristine is to pick up trash while walking. Make it a game, each of you can have your own trash bag and try to collect as much trash as you can. Be sure to wear gloves and provide proper adult supervision. Picking up trash gives children an activity to stay engaged, helps promote environmentally friendly habits, and helps protect our parks.

 For trash pick-up safety tips visit:

Come out and enjoy Strasser Woods State Preserve today! Make your own fun while counting nests, making nature bracelets, searching for wildlife, and keeping our parks clean. Please remember removing plants, hunting, trapping animals, and cutting wood is illegal here.