Copper Creek Mountain Bike Park Project

This area is NOT open to the public and is currently in the planning stages. 


Like many areas in the country, trail usage in Polk County Conservation areas increased by over 40% in 2020. This growth created crowded trailheads and an obvious need for more singletrack trails, especially those that connect off paved trails. The Copper Creek Mountain Bike Trails will serve the city of Pleasant Hill, the city of Des Moines, and Polk County residents who visit from nearby. This trail system will provide recreation for every level of rider and activities for a variety of users. The acreage is surrounded by neighborhoods and connects via a paved trail to a shopping area, providing easy access for the community.

Iowa ranks near the bottom of all 50 states in terms of the amount of recreation land it offers to the public. This area will provide a space for the community to escape to nature, all within a few miles of the heart of Des Moines. Not only does this area provide outdoor recreation for a community that has little green space, but it will serve as a large conservation education area with rain gardens, timber stand improvement areas, invasive species removal, interpretive conservation signs, and wetlands to assist with water drainage.

The Copper Creek project will bring expanded singletrack trail access to Des Moines’ East Side. This addition to the existing CITA (Central Iowa Trail Association) trail system ensures more people will have access to enjoy and appreciate the outdoors. By combining conservation and recreation, Copper Creek Trails will truly speak to Polk County Conservation’s mission of providing quality outdoor recreation and long term protection of green spaces for the citizens of Polk County.


The Copper Creek MTB (Mountain Bike) Park project site is undeveloped and located on 50.25 acres within the highly urbanized area of east Des Moines and Pleasant Hill, along the Gay Lea Wilson Trail.

The project goal is to provide a soft surface trail system oriented towards recreational mountain biking, hiking, trail running, and groomed trails for winter fat biking. The project includes the 4.5-mile development of singletrack flow trails. Flow Trails take mountain bikers on a terrain induced roller coaster experience, with little pedaling and braking as necessary. This style of riding contains features like banked turns, quick up/down terrain, jumps, and a consistent trail surface.

Polk County Conservation is working to create integrated trails and green spaces that will serve as recreation and conservation areas for the entire community. View the Park Concept.

Learn More About the Project

Copper Creek MTB Project from Mediacom MC22 on YouTube.




PHASE I | $200,000 Fundraising Goal

  • Spring/Summer/Fall 2021: Project Fundraising & Grant applications

  • Spring 2022: Design Development

  • Summer/Fall 2022: Project Bidding

  • Winter 2022/Spring 2023: Project Construction

  • Summer/Fall 2023: Project Completion

PHASE II | $400,000 Fundraising Goal

  • Spring/Summer 2023: Project Fundraising & Grant Applications

  • Fall/Winter 2023: Design Development

  • Spring/Summer 2024: Project Bidding and Construction

  • Fall/Winter 2024: Project Completion


The Copper Creek property owned by Polk County Conservation presents a unique opportunity to meld green infrastructure best management practices (BMPs) with active, community recreation. The overall forest/land condition, gentle grades, and proximity to a FEMA foodplain are great combinations for a one-of-a-kind symbiosis of recreation and green infrastructure. Can you imagine a pump track that also functions as a rain garden? Native grasses, forbs, and flowers on the backsides of berms and sides of rollers or jumps? Invasive forest understory species eradicated and new native understory and oak trees planted to recreate the historical oak savannahs of Polk County? Permeable rock slab armoring draining to swales? All of this can be created at Copper Creek.



    • Native Stone Starting Hub

    • Flow Trails

    • Earth Berms

    • Wood Features | Berms/Jumps/Boardwalks

    • Stream Crossing


  • GREEN INFRATRUCTURE will be used across the site to address stormwater runoff from the proposed parking lot in the form of bioswales and a series of rain gardens. Water quality can also be address along Copper Creek itself. Currently an engineering firm has been retained to study the hydraulics of this site to improve water quality. It is anticipated a small wetland could be incorporated into this site that would filter water from Copper Creek before it enters Fourmile creek immediately southwest of the site.

  • SUSTAINABLE TRAILS The trail system will be built to Best Management Practices for sustainable trail design. Trails will serve as recreational trails for bikers, hikers, and trail runners. Residents from nearby Copper Creek Lake Park will be able to enjoy the paved walking trail around the lake and also break off into Copper Creek Woods to experience the natural trails. All this is located along the Gay Leah Wilson trail that connects into the Central Iowa Trails System.