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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.
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.
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