1 Mile Loop Trail at Kuehn Conservation Area

1 mile loop trail kuehn

We recently camped at the Kuehn Conservation hike-in campsite and had so much fun; I decided to properly map out a trail route we took while we were there (you can find a 2 mile loop we have hiked in the past, in this post). It is mainly in the forest, and goes down over a stream into what I call true “Fern Gully” style woods. So lush, green, and quiet. While you can continue to go deeper into the forest past the tree that I climbed, we turned and went back to the prairie and then back up past the upper campground to form a 1 mile loop.

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2 Mile Loop Hike at Kuehn Conservation Area

trail at kuehn conservation area

For Father’s Day, we took advantage of the cooler temperatures and returned to one of our favorites, Kuehn Conservation Area out in Earlham, Iowa! A short drive from the metro, this park feels like it is on the edge of civilization and we love it. Even on a weekend, we practically had the whole place to ourselves. Last Fall we went East and down into the more wooded area, where we saw a creek (pictures on the main Kuehn page) so today we went west, checking out the primitive camping areas, the river beach, and the prairie.

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Natural Playscapes in Central Iowa

natural playscapes des moines iowa central iowa area

My kids love parks, but I think they love natural playscapes even more. With natural “loose parts” like stumps, rocks, and sticks, kids can go crazy building different structures. Climbing logs and rocks never gets old and it’s nice to find those options without driving too far into the wildnerness. We have found four natural playscapes in (and around) Des Moines, Iowa – I would say that Jester & Brenton have the most impressive natural playgrounds but McHenry and Sargent are super fun to visit and worth the drive with their additional, conventional playground features. You can click through to each page for the nitty gritty details like address and bathrooms, with my notes on each playscape below their titles. They are all free, with the exception of the one at Blank Park Zoo.

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Shady Playgrounds in the Des Moines, Iowa Area

Check out a list of the playgrounds with shade in Des Moines, Iowa and surriounding suburbs.

When summer temperatures hit and your kids still need to get outside and play, check out these shady playgrounds around the Des Moines, Iowa area! This list is partially generated off of other folks’ suggestions; if you disagree or have more to add, please just leave a comment and I’ll happily include it in the notes. Shade can also vary due to the time of day, if I know when the pictures were taken I’ve included that note as well! As I add pictures and update with new pictures, you can subscribe to my newsletter to stay in the loop.

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Starting Summer at Ledges State Park

ledges state park boone iowa (1)

Ledges State Park is super popular and well worth the (short) drive from the Des Moines metro – we kicked off summer with a visit to splash and explore! I had read reports of the canyon road being closed due to damage (picture and article here), so I thought I’d scope out options for parking in an effort to make it easier to visit. This is such a fun place to come and spend the day hiking and splashing, the shallow water makes it perfect for babies and toddlers (as well as older kids, adults, and dogs of course!). Lots of folks bring water toys, nets, and beach balls but we usually have the most fun looking for animals and playing with sticks.

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