Stewards of Brown’s Woods

SBW (Stewards of Brown’s Woods) is an all-volunteer organization operating under the guidance of the Polk County Conservation Board. The SBW was formed by skilled and dedicated volunteers to help maximize the effectiveness of the resources and to support the mission of the PCCB at Brown’s Woods and beyond.


Managed by Polk County Conservation with help from passionate volunteers, Brown’s Woods is Iowa’s largest urban forest preserve. Brown’s Woods is a 486-acre forest located in West Des Moines that features a canopy of oak and hickory trees stretching from Brown’s Woods Drive to the Raccoon River. The rolling hills and small streams of Brown’s Woods are a joy to explore at any season.

This wildlife area is named after Tallmadge E. Brown, a successful Des Moines lawyer who acquired large tracts of land around Des Moines in the late 1800s. One of them was this beautiful forest acquired by the Conservation Board in 1972.

Explore over 4 miles of nature trails throughout Brown’s Woods! Here, visitors can hike, snowshoe,cross-country ski, and snowshoe. You don’t have to go far from the city to explore the woods!

Nature Trails
Length: Total 4.4 miles
Gateway Trail  .5 Miles
Preparation Loop  .5 miles
Wilderness Loop 1.4 miles
North Loop 2 miles
Difficulty: Moderate

Explore the Preserve


To accomplish the restoration of Brown’s Woods several key items need to happen. Invasive species that threaten the biodiversity of the forest need to be knocked back, trails need to be maintained and improved, and education provided to the general public.

SBW volunteers are long term volunteers trained in natural resource management, removing invasive species by hand, clearing and maintaining trails, interacting and educating the public, and undergoing training to become more effective.

Learn More


Want to help, but can’t lend a hand?
Donate to the Steward’s of Brown’s Woods and their efforts instead!

Donate Here


E-mail |

Brian Kampling, Steward Captain - Founder

E-mail |

Jamiejo Spatz, Steward Captain

*We (GOF) are incredibly grateful for the support of donors who create funds for a specific purpose with the Foundation. Those donations provide the funding necessary for the us to carry out our purposes. While we are very appreciative of the support, restrictive funds require administrative resources to administer and monitor. Given this, the Foundation has determined that a small portion of all gifts contributed for a specific purpose may be used to defray operating costs of the Foundation. If a donor contributes any amount for a specific purpose, the donor shall be deemed to have consented to an allocation of 10% of the amount for administrative expenses of the Foundation. This policy shall be effective for all gifts contributed after the date of its adoption, as of January 22, 2014.

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