Denman Woods

South off Grand Avenue at 31st St
Des Moines, IA 50312

Another part of this complex is Denman Woods, accessed by turning south off Grand Avenue at 31st St. After about .5 miles, the road crosses RR tracks and angles left, becoming Edwards Ave. and then right, becoming S.W. 31st St. It travels thorough a riparian woodland which, in wet years, features Prothonotary Warblers. About halfway down this dead end road is a grassy trail blocked by a chained gate, the entrance to “Lost Planet.” A moniker given by locals to this rather surreal spot, Lost Planet is a lime dump once used by the Des Moines Waterworks. While it is mostly dry and barren, during rainy periods it can offer shorebirds and ducks, and at the far corner is an area that usually has water. A trail circles Lost Planet and can be good for passerines, diurnal raptors, and owls. Continuing on down S.W. 31st is a cul de sac. Walking to the right takes you past riparian woodland, woodland edge, and brushy areas. A second part of the Lost Planet area is much more interesting in terms of its potential for shorebirds, herons, and rails. Instead of turning right on 31st St., continue straight for .1 mile to where the road bends to the left, becoming S.W. 29th. Park here, cross through a metal gate, and visit the large marshy area just up the hill. A second access to Denman Woods is via Greenwood Park/Ashworth Park, the location of the Science Center of Iowa, south on 45th St. from Grand Ave. The parks themselves are worth checking, consisting of one of the city’s remaining Burr Oak savannahs. The road passes a small, marshy pond and a swimming pool before ending at a large parking lot. Continuing on from the parking lot is the Bill Riley Trail. In spring and summer, the deep woods here may produce Scarlet Tanager, Yellow-throated Vireo, Red-eyed Vireo, Ovenbird, Thrushes, and other woodland species. The trail crosses two railroad tracks and then angles east along the Raccoon River.
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