Polk County Conservation

2. Brown’s Woods

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Brown’s Woods Forest Preserve (465 SE Brown's Woods Dr.),
West Des Moines, Iowa

Brown’s Woods, Iowa’s largest urban forest preserve, offers more than four miles of trails to explore. This 486-acre forest in West Des Moines features a canopy of oak and hickory trees stretching from Brown's Woods Drive to the Raccoon River. The rolling hills and small streams of Brown's Woods are a joy to explore at any season. This wildlife area is named after Tallmadge E. Brown, a successful Des Moines lawyer who acquired large tracts of land around Des Moines in the late 1800s. One of them was this beautiful forest acquired by the Conservation Board in 1972.

Visitors may collect nuts, fruit or edible mushrooms for non-commercial use if the plant is not harmed; however, removing plants, hunting, or trapping animals and cutting wood is illegal here.

Dogs are allowed if kept on a six-foot leash; please remember to pick up after your pets.

Brown’s Woods can only be explored by foot or cross-country skis. The trails are sensitive to erosion and cannot withstand wear caused by horses, bicycles, or motorized vehicles.

Summer hours are from 6:30 a.m. - 10:30 p.m.; winter hours are from sunrise to sunset.


Nature Trails
Length: Total 4.4 miles
Gateway Trail  .5 Miles
Preparation Loop  .5 miles
Wilderness Loop 1.4 miles
North Loop 2 miles
Difficulty: Moderate



Contact Us

Administration Office
12130 NW 128th St
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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