Sep 22, 2021 - Sports

Polk County to build new mountain bike park for Des Moines area

A mountain biker jumps in the air off rocks.
Photo: Michael Steele/Getty Images

Around 50 acres of undeveloped land connecting Des Moines and Pleasant Hill will be turned into a new mountain bike park, Polk County Conservation director Rich Leopold told Axios Tuesday.

Why it matters: Recreational advocates say the metro is in need of another public park, as evidenced by a 40% jump in trail usage last year.

State of play: Polk County recently purchased the land — which is near a flood plain and connects to the Gay Lea Wilson Trail just off East University Ave. — for $300K.

  • Leopold said multiple attempts to develop parts of the site by previous owners have failed, largely because of its rough terrain.

Lemons to lemonade: While traditional development flunked, the property is ideal for a mountain bike park because its bumpy surface can be used as jumps, Leopold said.

  • It's also conveniently located between developed areas of the two cities, allowing planners to integrate trails and green space.

Details: The county's drafted plans call for 4.5 miles of dirt tracks oriented for mountain biking, winter fat biking and hiking.

  • A pump track and skills area would include rocks and other native landscaping features for bikers.
  • A wetland area would help filter water from Copper Creek before it enters the adjacent Fourmile Creek.

What's ahead: County officials say the roughly $600K project could be completed in 2024, but the timeline is dependent on fundraising and grants.

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