Des Moines, IA

Gray’s Lake & Waterworks Park

Creative Commons 2.0

One of our favorite runs in Des Moines is to combine a loop around Gray’s Lake with the numerous trails at Water Works Park. There are numerous ways to do this. Below are some good options.

Gray’s Lake Boardwalk. CC 2.0

Gray’s Lake Loop. Terrific 1.9 mile loop around the lake on the  paved Kruidenie Trail with water views the whole way! One special feature is a boardwalk/bridge over the water, beautifully lit at night. To access from downtown, it’s ~2 miles on the paved Meredith Trail.

Water Works Park. Adjacent to Gray’s Lake, the 1500-acre Des Moines Water Works Park is one of the largest urban parks in the United States. The park boasts outdoor recreational activities galore. It has a 200-acre lake, acres of protected woodlands, and large open areas for sports and other activities. There are several miles of trails. A couple of options:

  • Gray’s Lake to Water Works Park using Meredith Trail. South of Gray’s Lake, continue on the unpaved Meredith Trail along the south end of Water Works Park for ~2 miles. A small bridge over the Raccoon River leads to the trail continuing as the Bill Riley Trail for another 1.25 miles. We stop there, but there are options to continue on the Walnut Creek Trail or a trail leading to Ashworth Park. ROUTE MAP
  • Waterworks Park using Arborerum-Grays Lake Rd. From the northern end of Grays Lake, enjoy paths through the pretty Arboretum, and then take Grays Lake Rd. (sort of a road and path) along the Raccoon River. Then do two loops along the main park roads, which add up to ~3.3 miles.  The total out and back is 7.4 miles, and 9.3 miles including Gray’s Lake Loop. ROUTE MAP

Add-On Options: Gray’s Lake to downtown using the Meredith Trail is ~2 miles. North of Water Works Park, continue on Bill Riley Trail to Ashworth Park or along the Walnut Creek Trail. South of Water Works Park is the Great Western Trail that heads south to the airport & beyond.

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