Easter Lake Park & Mark C. Ackelson Trail

Easter Lake Park
2830 Easter Lake Drive
Des Moines, IA 50320 

A beautiful 165-acre lake is the centerpiece of this 468+ acre park in southeastern Des Moines. Anglers love this lake filled with catfish, bluegill, largemouth bass, crappie, and walleye. Surrounding the lake, visitors enjoy a 4-mile paved trail, nature trails, picnicking, playgrounds, and viewing Polk County’s last remaining covered bridge.

Easter Lake Park's recreational facilities include:

  • Picnic Areas - Reservations for shelters can be made on-line at Prices can be found here. 
  • Hiking Trails
  • Boat Ramp
  • Playgrounds
  • Fishing Piers

Athene North Shore Recreation Area
2816 Shoreline Road
Des Moines, IA 50320

This space offers all-natural fun for all. From the start, we used universal design to make sure that amenities are useable for all ages and abilities.

The park features accessible single-user restrooms, including one with a child/adult universal changing station, a Wellness Room for nursing mothers and those who need quiet space, an inclusive playground with a variety of equipment and sensory experiences, and more. Plus, accessible signs and wide paved pathways make exploring the park fun for everyone. has a full calendar of programs and details on the park amenities.


Monitoring Water Quality at Easter Lake

During the summer recreation season, Polk County Conservation staff are actively monitoring the water in Easter Lake where swimming, boating and fishing recreation are active. To view weekly results Memorial Day - Labor Day, read the weekly news story on this website, linked here.


The four-mile Mark C. Ackelson Trail winding around Easter Lake provides an ideal place for outdoor recreation and scenic views for park visitors. Cycling, skating and hiking opportunities along the trail lie adjacent to playground equipment, fishing piers, boat ramps, and several picnic areas. The trail rides through Owen's Covered Bridge on the southern lake shore, Polk County's only covered bridge. Parking and trail access is available from any of the shelters and parking lots located throughout Easter Lake Park. The north side of the trail is accessible from Ewing Park.


The trail's namesake, Mark C. Ackelson, served as president of the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation (INHF) for 18 years, as well as provided leadership in several conservation coalitions and alliances. Ackelson's passion for land, water and wildlife lead INHF to protect and restore 145,000 acres of Iowa's natural areas. Under his guidance INHF also provided hundreds of miles of trails which supported local trail-side communities and ushered Iowans outdoors.


  • Summer |6:30 a.m. – 10:30 p.m. | April 1 - October 31

  • Winter | Sunrise - Sunset | November 1 - March 31 

  • Athene North Shore Recreation Area Concessions
    • Monday – Friday: 12PM – 8PM
    • Saturday and Sunday: 10AM – 8PM

Unless Otherwise Posted 


Mark C Ackelson Trail : 4.1 Miles | Difficulty: Easy

Apple Orchard Trail: 0.2 Miles | Difficulty: Easy

Wymore Trail: 1.4 Miles | Difficulty: Easy 

Songbird Trail: 0.1 Miles | Difficulty: Easy


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.