The Forest Park Museum and Arboretum is on 17 acres, with the Raccoon River Valley Trail passing through the arboretum. There are several buildings including a visitor center with live animals, First Nations artifacts, and a rifle collection. Hastie Hall has Dallas County history from the 1800’s to the 20th century, including early transportation, occupations, and common farm/house items. Baldwin Hall showcases the lives and occupations of Dallas County’s early pioneers. Wagner Gallery has a library and collections for architect William Wagner. There is a log cabin, originally built in 1863, a scale house used to weigh grain, and a one room Alton School House, used from 1867-1961.
It is more of a museum complex, with the several buildings existing separate from one another but connected by trails. There are handy “touch here” signs in some of the display halls, but a toddler would get easily frustrated with all the things they aren’t supposed to touch! The spaces are small and densely packed with information and things to look at.
Great Western Trail runs along an old railroad line, connecting several small towns in a paved stretch. Primarily used by bikers, it passes over bridges with intermittent shade and scenery. We visited as a part of the Polk County Geocaching Challenge, exploring off of the Des Moines trail head.
Trestle to Trestle Trail runs along an old railroad route, connecting other main trails in the area. It’s paved and runs along wooded and open landscapes, also bumping into the Des Moines River in the eastward direction, where you may spot bald eagles. This is also a spot on the Polk County Conservation Geocache Challenge.