Water Trails

Water Trails and Greenways Master Plan

The Greater Des Moines Water Trails and Greenways Master Plan was adopted by unanimous vote of the MPO Policy Committee in November 2016. The water trails plan provides the region a road-map for enhancing citizen experiences in and along the 150 miles of waterways in Greater Des Moines.

Executive Summary
Water Trails and Greenways Plan

Beaver Creek Booklet
Des Moines River Booklet
Fourmile and Mud Creeks Booklet
North and Middle Rivers Booklet
Raccoon River Booklet
South Skunk River and Chichaqua Bottoms Booklet
Walnut Creek Booklet
State of the Rivers Report

Water Trails Appendix

A great amount of community feedback and research went into of the Greater Des Moines Water Trails and Greenways Plan. This information is retained as an appendix for research and reference.

Water Trails Appendix

Phase I Implementation: Engineering Study

The Water Trails Engineering Study will examine list of recommended projects more closely. The engineering study will determine the feasibility of the recommended projects and provide estimated costs of those projects. With this information, local governments and funding partners can begin prioritizing projects and budgeting for the installation of these projects.

Click here for more information on the Water Trails Engineering Study.

What are Water Trails?

Water trails are recreational corridors and routes on rivers and lakes that provide a unique experience all water users. Water trails help re-connect Iowans to their waterways’ history, heritage, geology, fisheries, and wildlife. Water trails provide adequate access and can include amenities like riverside camping, wild spaces, cookout areas, and restrooms, and watercraft rentals provided by local, state, and federal partners. Coordinated signage and mapping systems guide users toward the types of experiences they seek, ranging from a highly social first-time river experience lasting a few hours to multi-day adventures. Water trails help boost local economies and give central Iowans outdoor experiences just out their back doors.

About the Regional Water Trails Planning Effort

The MPO received funding from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources to develop a regional water trails plan. Now developed, the plan provides the region a road-map for enhancing citizen experiences in and along the waterways in Greater Des Moines.

Map Water Trails Study Area

Water Trails Plan Study Area

General Water Trails Presentation

Steering Committee

The Water Trails and Greenways Steering Committee oversaw the development of a water trails master plan for the Greater Des Moines region. Agendas, minutes and presentations are posted here.

Agendas & Minutes

Supplemental Items*
December 2017 Agenda Minutes
November 2016 Agenda Minutes  
September 2016 Agenda Minutes Presentation
May 2016 Agenda Minutes Presentation
Water Trails and Greenways Draft Plan
Summary of Downtown Des Moines Dam Debate_Online SurveySummary of Downtown Des Moines Dam Debate
February 2016 Agenda Minutes Presentation 
Water Trails and Greenways Vision document DRAFT
September 2015 Agenda Minutes Presentation
July 2015 Agenda Minutes Presentation


The members of the Water Trails Steering Committee have a diverse set of expertise and represent a wide range of interests and industries from around the region.

Chair: Rick Tollakson, Hubbell Realty Company.

American Rivers Staci Williams
Angler LuWayne Luers
Capital Crossroads Bethany Wilcoxon
Central Iowa Paddlers Carol Kersey
Chair, Hubbell Realty Rick Tollakson
Citizen Ellen King Huntoon
City of Clive Ted Weaver
City of Des Moines Joe Gatto
City of Des Moines Phil Delafield
City of Johnston Dave Wilwerding
City of West Des Moines Russ Trimble
City of West Des Moines Lynne Twedt
Convention and Visitors Bureau Greg Edwards
Convention and Visitors Bureau Trina Flack
Des Moines Rowing Club Julia Martinusen
Des Moines Sail and Power Squadron Kenneth Danley
DNR  – Water Trails Nate Hooveveen
DNR  – Water Trails John Wenck
DNR  – Wildlife Manager Josh Gansen
DNR – Fisheries Ben Dodd
DNR – Managed Lands Todd Gosselink
Greater Des Moines  Partnership Jay Byers
Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation Joe McGovern
Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation Lisa Hein
Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation Andrea Boulton
Izaak Walton League Rick Cerwick
MidAmerican Energy Kathryn Kunert
Parks: Trails and Greenways Committee & Iowa Rivers Revival Linda Appelgate
Polk County Conservation Lewis Major
Polk County Soil and Water Conservation District Jennifer Welch
Principal Financial Mark Lagomarcino
Raccoon River Watershed Steve Roe
Tai Village Inc. Siang Bacthi
The Nature Conservancy David DeGeus
US Army Corps – Saylorville Dayne Magneson
US Army Corps – Red Rock Perry Thostenson
USCG Aux Renee Thomas