Des Moines River Water Trail - South Section

This 10.25 mile section of the entire 19 miles of the Des Moines River Water Trail is a scenic, historical and natural experience with a stretch between the Harriet Street Access and Yellow Banks County Park located in central Iowa's Polk County.

photo: Paddlers. Photo by Kelli Phillips.

Length: 10.25 miles
Loop Trail? No
Type: Water Trail
Agency: State
Entry Fee? No
Parking Fee? No

Allowed Uses:

Wildlife Observation

See more details.


Location: Water trail on the Des Moines River in central Iowa connecting Harriet Street Access in Des Moines and Yellow Banks County, Follows Des Moines River downstream from H St. to Yellow
South Section (Harriet Street to Banks County Park.
Yellow Banks) IA

State(s): Iowa
Counties: Polk
Longitude: -93.59338
Latitude: 41.57549

Driving Directions

Trailhead located at Harriet Street River Access: From I-235 in Des Moines head south on Highway 69 (SE 14th Street) for 1.26 miles, turn left onto Harriet Street, follow to the river access.


The entire stretch of the Des Moines River, which encompasses a length of 525 miles from Lake Shetek in Minnesota to the Mississippi River in southeast Iowa is an extremely scenic stream. The 20 mile, state designated Des Moines River Water Trail section in Polk County, Iowa provides a unique opportunity to connect a diverse group of trail users, including both rural and urban populations.

The northern-most access point can be found just below the Saylorville Dam, north of Des Moines in Cottonwood Recreation area, with the southern-most access point being at Yellow Banks County Park, which boasts new paddle-in campsites enabling a multi-day paddling experience with excellent camping amenities.

The trail spawned from partnerships among government agencies in addition to numerous clubs and organizations realizing an existing need for a growing population of water users. Beautifully constructed informational kiosks stand at each access point providing information, maps and safety messages pertinent to trail segments.

This unique trail not provides a critical healthy community promotion feature, it also connects with multiple other trails. The intertwining of many trail types can provide a unique opportunity and enable visitors to create their own special experience. Connections to the Neal Smith Multi-Use Trail, which was designated an NRT in the 1990's, can be accessed at two places along the trail. A mountain biking trail as well as the Trestle-To-Trestle paved biking trail can also be accessed easily from the water trail.

Additional Details

Primary Surface: Water, moving
Secondary Surface: None
Elevation Low Point: Not Available
Elevation High Point: Not Available
Elevation Gain (cumulative): Not Available

Year Designated:

Supporting Webpages and Documents

Website: American Trails Featured NRT

Contact Information

For more information and current conditions, contact the trail manager (listed below). For questions, suggestions, and corrections to information listed on the website, contact American Trails.

Trail Management:
John Wenck
Rivers Program Outreach Coordinator
Iowa Department of Natural Resources
Wallace State Office Building, 502 E. 9th Street
Des Moines, IA 50319
(515) 281-8969
[email protected]

Trail Management:
City of Des Moines
405 SE 20th Street
Des Moines, IA 50317
(515) 248-6349

Trail Management:
Polk County Conservation
11407 NW Jester Park Drive
Granger, IA 50109
(515) 323-5300



Des Moines Bridge. Photo by Kelli Phillips.

Des Moines Bridge. Photo by Kelli Phillips.

New Year's Day paddle. Photo by Kelli Phillips.

New Year's Day paddle. Photo by Kelli Phillips.


 Photo by Kelli Phillips.

Photo by Kelli Phillips.

Winter paddle. Photo by Kelli Phillips.

Winter paddle. Photo by Kelli Phillips.


Paddlers. Photo by Kelli Phillips.

Paddlers. Photo by Kelli Phillips.


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