Volksweg Trail


Volksweg Trail Facts

States: Iowa
Counties: Marion
Length: 13 miles
Trail end points: Volksweg Trailhead Park at W. 5th St. and University St. (Pella) and Fifield Recreation Area off County Highway G28
Trail surfaces: Asphalt
Trail category: Rail-Trail
ID: 6015646
Trail activites: Bike, Inline Skating, Wheelchair Accessible, Walking, Cross Country Skiing

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Volksweg Trail Description

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.

Volksweg Trail Reviews

Most of this trail is not rideable at the moment. the west end is flooded out, and the east end is closed for the next couple of years for road construction. So, ....that leaves 4 miles in the center, at the lake. And those 4 miles are really nice! :) One of the things I love best about the rail trails, is the bridges, and there are a few beautiful ones here. (i'll put up a couple pics).

Not lots to say for such a short trail, but if your in the area, the ride is worth it.

I tried to bike this trail twice, a year apart, and both times I was unable to get very far because part of the trail was under water. The portion of the trail I was able to bike was pretty good and I left with a positive impression of the trail. The trail does have some hills, but to the trail designer's credit, they did the best they could with the terrain they had to work with. On the steep grade up to the dam, the designers brought in dirt to build up a ramp to reduce the steepness of the grade as much as possible. (It is unusual for bike trail designers/engineers to try to lessen the steepness of bike trails as most bike trail designers I am convinced don't even ride bicycles. Huge kudos to the Volksweg Trail designers and engineers!!) The scenery is nice, and there are some great views of the lake, and some great benches with nice views. I wish I could have biked more of the trail. Some year I hope to be back when the trail isn't under water.

This is a nice trail because it goes through camp gounds at Lake Red Rock so you can camp for the weekend and ride the trail. There are restaurants in Pella to go to make a nice weekend out of it. A lot of it is around the lake and so there is more than corn fields to look at.


I rode this trail in May '09 while we attended the Tulip Festival in Pella (which was really worthwhile & amazing). The Pella end wasn't the best as it went on sidewalks & road shoulders up to Lions Park. After that it was pretty nice but quite hilly by midwest standards. Unfortunately, I got rained on so wasn't able to enjoy the return trip after getting soaked. Not much in the way of facilities or drinking water. Worth doing if you're in the area (admiring tulips & Dutch architecture) but I wouldn't drive far to do this one.

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