12. Great Western Trail
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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.
**Upcoming Trail Relocation Update**
Polk County Conservation is working with the City of West Des Moines and West Lakes Properties LLC to relocate a section of the Great Western Trail at the SE Corner of the Veteran's Parkway and Highway 5 intersection. (click here for a map)
The existing trail corridor bisects the West Lakes property and lies in the path of the new extension of Maffit Road, eastward of Veterans Parkway. Development of the West Lakes land and the extension of Maffit Road will present public safety and access challenges.
Polk County Conservation has entered negotiations with the other parties to move the trail right-of-way to an alternate route, preserving a continuous corridor while avoiding at grade road crossings and conflicts with multiple commercial trail crossings.
The City of West Des Moines is constructing a new underpass (tunnel) for the trail to cross beneath the new Maffit Road and West Lakes Properties LLC will construct a new trail on the negotiated site. The new trail is to be constructed to Polk County Conservation specifications.
Polk County Conservation's willingness to enter into negotiations to relocate the Great Western Trail from its current alignment included several requests which were to: preserve a continuous trail corridor, continuity of trail use, no loss of publically-owned property, and public safety in this rapidly developing area. We are pleased that all of these requests were met.
The proposed relocation will ensure public safety by the use of a tunnel to separate trail users from motor vehicles, ensure that no land area is lost from public ownership, keep the trail open for use during construction (the new trail will be completed prior to closing the existing route) , and maintain a well constructed enjoyable trail into the future. Anticipated development in this area will take place over the next two recreation seasons.