Volksweg Trail


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Volksweg Trail Facts

States: Iowa
Counties: Marion
Length: 12.5 miles
Trail end points: County Road G28 at Fillmore Dr. in Cordova Park and University St. at W. Fifth St. (Pella)
Trail surfaces: Asphalt
Trail category: Rail-Trail
ID: 6015646
Trail activities: Bike, Inline Skating, Wheelchair Accessible, Walking, Cross Country Skiing

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Volksweg Trail Description

Who says Iowa doesn’t have hills?! The winding route of the Volksweg Trail sticks mainly to the rolling hills and scenic viewpoints from Lake Red Rock all the way to the town of Pella. Dutch immigrants settled this lovely section of Iowa in the mid-19th century, which explains how the Volksweg Trail, Dutch for “people’s path,” got its name.


Normally a 12.5-mile trek, the steepest 3.7-mile section of trail that plunges to the base of the dam on the Des Moines River is closed until sometime in 2018 while crews work on a hydroelectric project. A 0.9-mile detour on local roads reconnects to the final leg into Pella.


Beginning at the trailhead on the west side of the bridge across Robert’s Creek, you’ll head east alongside County Road G28 on a trail separated from the road for 3 miles that passes through the Fifield Recreation Area. Leaving the road after crossing Wallingslock Creek, you head into some woods as you skirt the northern edge of Wallashuck Campground. If you are thirsty, you can grab a drink at the Wallashuck trailhead, which also has restrooms and parking available to your right. 


About 2.5 crooked miles down the trail from the Wallashuck trailhead, you will pass by a well-equipped playground right before the landscape opens up to North Overlook Recreation Area park and beach. Many visitor amenities, such as restrooms, picnic tables, and drinking fountains, can be found here.


To go around a trail closure and continue to Pella, you can take a detour left onto County Road T15 (0.3 mile) and right onto Idaho Drive (0.6 mile). Idaho Drive reconnects with the trail across the street from a gas station. This portion of trail is uneven, with cracked pavement that may be difficult for some users.


From here you can follow the remaining 2 miles on the trail along Idaho Drive all the way to the Volksweg Water Plant Trailhead, located at West Fifth Street and University Street. If your timing is right, you may arrive for Tulip Time festival in early May. Otherwise, you may want to visit the Dutch-themed town center about a mile away via University Street and Main Street. You’ll find a historical village, a Dutch windmill, and plentiful coffee shops and bakeries.

Parking and Trail Access

To reach the western trailhead at Cordova Park from I-80, take Exit 155 onto southbound SR 117 toward Colfax. Go 1.1 miles, and turn left onto State St.; then go 0.7 mile, and turn right to stay on SR 117/S. League Road. Go 5.3 miles, and turn left onto E. Second St./SR 163. Go 1.9 miles, and turn left to stay on SR 163, and then go 8.2 miles to Exit 29, and turn right onto SR 14. Go 5.1 miles, and turn left onto County Road G28. Go 3 miles, and turn right into the parking lot. 


To reach the eastern trailhead in Pella from I-80, take Exit 155 onto southbound SR 117 toward Colfax. Go 1.1 miles and turn left onto State St.; then go 0.7 mile and turn right to stay on SR 117/S. League Road. Go 5.3 miles and turn left onto E. Second St./SR 163. Go 1.9 miles and turn left to stay on IA 163. Go 21.3 miles, take Exit 40, and turn left onto Washington St. Go 1.5 miles, and turn right onto W. Third St.; then go 0.5 mile, and turn right onto University St. In 0.2 mile, turn left into the parking lot.

Volksweg Trail Reviews

Steepest grade (according to our Garmin GPSMap64) was 8% on the trail; on the detour (crossing the dam to accomplish the detour) was 15%. No signs to direct you around the detour ¿¿, but there is a foot bridge crossing the river that connects Hoewell Station Rec Area with North Overlook Rec Area. But it requires riding across the dam. While crossing the dam you will see that the trail could be reopened ¿¿.

This is a nice trail, except for the section from Pella to the trailhead by the old bridge. That is very rough. The rest of the trail is superb. This trail was billed as difficult, but I did not find it that hard. The hills are long but not steep. The scenery is great, and I enjoyed this trail.

This trail does have some hills but nothing too hard. The north part was tree lined, there were bridges and several views of the lake. You do ride next to a highway in some portions but you are still on the paved trail so no traffic. The south end is blocked due to building of the Hydro plant. I just loaded up my bike after I was done with the north and unloaded and went around the south end and up to Pella. The south end is very pretty but the ride to Pella was not very scenic after you left the lake. All in all a great trail that will be better when they get the construction done. Will definitely do this again this fall.


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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