• Posted Aug 25, 2021


The Copper Creek MTB (Mountain Bike) Park project site is undeveloped and located on 50.25 acres within the highly urbanized area of east Des Moines and Pleasant Hill along the Gay Lea Wilson Trail. By combining conservation and recreation, Copper Creek Trails will truly speak to Polk County Conservation’s mission of providing quality outdoor recreation and long term protection of green spaces for the citizens of Polk County.

The project goal is to provide a soft surface trail system oriented towards recreational mountain biking, hiking, trail running, and groomed trails for winter fat biking. The project includes the 4.5-mile development of singletrack flow trails. Flow Trails take mountain bikers on a terrain induced roller coaster experience, with little pedaling and braking as necessary. This style of riding contains features like banked turns, quick up/down terrain, jumps, and a consistent trail surface.

The trail system will be built to Best Management Practices for sustainable trail design. Trails will serve as recreational trails for bikers, hikers, and trail runners. Residents from nearby Copper Creek Lake Park will be able to enjoy the paved walking trail around the lake and also break off into Copper Creek Woods to experience the natural trails. All this is located along the Gay Lea Wilson trail that connects into the Central Iowa Trails System.

The Park Vision for the Copper Creek property owned by Polk County Conservation presents a unique opportunity to meld green infrastructure best management practices (BMPs) with active, community recreation. The overall forest/land condition, gentle grades, and proximity to a FEMA foodplain are great combinations for a one-of-a-kind symbiosis of recreation and green infrastructure. Can you imagine a pump track that also functions as a rain garden? Native grasses, forbs, and flowers on the backsides of berms and sides of rollers or jumps? Invasive forest understory species eradicated and new native understory and oak trees planted to recreate the historical oak savannahs of Polk County? Permeable rock slab armoring draining to swales? All of this can be created at Copper Creek.

The Features
  • Pump Track and Skills Area
  • Native Stone Starting Hub
  • Flow Trails
  • Earth Berms
  • Wood Features
  • Berms/Jumps/Boardwalks
  • Stream Crossing

The Need - Like many areas in the country, trail usage in Polk County Conservation areas increased by over 40% in 2020. This growth created crowded trailheads and an obvious need for more singletrack trails, especially those that connect off paved trails. The Copper Creek Mountain Bike Trails will serve the city of Pleasant Hill, the city of Des Moines, and Polk County residents who visit from nearby. This trail system will provide recreation for every level of rider and activities for a variety of users. The acreage is surrounded by neighborhoods and connects via a paved trail to a shopping area, providing easy access for the community.

The fundraising Initiatives
With help from IMBA, the Copper Creek Trails Project has been chosen as a 2021 Dig In Grant Recipient. IMBA’s Dig In Program, founded by Shimano, provides an avenue for raising funds for mountain bike projects nationwide, like this one! IMBA is helping us, by leveraging their reach and relationships to provide grant opportunities via corporate partner dollars and run a national marketing campaign. The goal is to bridge the gap between local and national fundraising efforts, and show a new audience how inspirational and vital trails are to local riders and communities.

You can donate to the Dig In Program - DONATE HERE

The Timeline

PHASE I | $200,000 Fundraising Goal

  • Spring/Summer 2021: Project Fundraising & Grant applications

  • Fall/Winter 2021: Design Development

  • Spring/Summer 2022: Project Bidding and Construction

  • Fall/Winter 2022: Project Completion

PHASE II | $400,000 Fundraising Goal

  • Spring/Summer 2023: Project Fundraising & Grant Applications

  • Fall/Winter 2023: Design Development

  • Spring/Summer 2024: Project Bidding and Construction

  • Fall/Winter 2024: Project Completion

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