The unusually-named Volksweg Trail connects the city of Pella in Marion County, Iowa, with Lake Red Rock, a large reservoir formed by the Des Moines River's Red Rock Dam. Pella was founded by immigrants from the Netherlands in 1847, so it is appropriate that Volksweg is a Dutch word meaning "people's path" (never mind the redundancy).
The trail runs parallel to Idaho Drive and 198th Place for 3 miles from the southwestern edge of Pella to Howell Station Recreation Area. At the popular destination, the Volksweg Trail runs adjacent to the Des Moines River for a short distance. From here, launch a boat into Lake Red Rock or pay a $20 camping fee and spend the night.
North of Howell Station, the trail winds through North Overlook Recreation Area, which is well-known for its densely wooded campsites. Additional recreation opportunities can be found in Wallashuck Recreation Area, through which the Volksweg Trail later meanders. The trail ends at Fifield Recreation Area on the north shore of Lake Red Rock. The park is an excellent location for a picnic at the water's edge.
The trail, as well as the various recreation areas along the trail's route, are managed by the Army Corps of Engineers, who built the Red Rock Dam (and thus created the lake) as a flood control project in 1969. The trail is steep at certain points, so be prepared. Another word of warning: Due to the Volksweg Trail's proximity to Lake Red Rock and the Des Moines River, it is prone to flooding. Be sure to check out the Army Corps of Engineers' Lake Red Rock website for information on possible closures.
Parking and Trail Access
Pella is located about 1 hour southeast of Des Moines; take State Route 163 for the entire distance. In Pella, park at Volksweg Trailhead Park at the intersection of University Street and W. 5th Street. Additional parking can be found at the Howell Station campground near where 198th Place meets the Des Moines River. Farther north, park at the large lot on County Highway T15, located just to the east of Red Rock Dam.
At Wallashuck Recreation Area, leave your car in the parking lot on 190th Avenue. At the trail's northwestern endpoint, park at the lot in Fifield Recreation Area just off County Highway G28.