Polk City is a community of 3,500 in central Iowa. Located near Big Creek State Park and just east of Saylorville Lake, this city has lots to offer dogs and their owners, including a whopping 130 veterinarians within a thirty-mile radius of city center.
One of the closest dog-friendly activities is Ames Dog Park, just twenty-two miles north in Ames, IA. This ten-acre, off-leash dog park is made up of two sections: one for small dogs (two acres) and one for large dogs (eight acres). In order to keep the park clean and well-maintained, park users must purchase a facility use permit -- but it’s well worth it!
Raccoon River Dog Park can be found twenty-five miles south, in West Des Moines, IA. This twelve-acre, fully-fenced dog park is open year-round and beloved for its beauty and cleanliness. There are separate areas for large and small dogs as well as plenty of doggie bags for easy clean-up. The park charges an annual fee, but day passes are also available.
For a nontraditional activity, head on over to the Iowa Arboretum, just thirty minutes northeast, in Madrid, IA. This quiet, public garden welcomes leashed pups on its many prairie walking trails and pathways, and it’s stocked with complimentary doggie bags. Daily passes are just $5, and admission is free if you’re an arboretum member. Take a few hours one afternoon to enjoy the garden’s hundreds of species of trees, shrubs, and flowering plants.
Pup owners in North Bay have access to furrific adventures at Big Creek State Park. Dogs are welcome in this area as long as they are on leashes no longer than 6 feet long. You and Fido can take advantage of an extensive network of nature trails, boat ramps, and picnic shelters in this vast complex. Take a hike along the shoreline of the 866-acre lake, or stroll through the woods and fields surrounding the water. Stop for a picnic lunch at one of the 13 available shelters. If you’re a boating enthusiast, bring your craft to the marina and enjoy the clear water with your canine pal.
The Cherry Glen/Cottonwood neighborhood provides puptacular outdoor activities for canines and their owners. Pack your tent or camper and take Fido to the Cherry Glen Campground for an overnight or longer. Pups are allowed at the sites, but they need to be on-leash. While you’re there, take a hike or jog along the Neal Smith Trail. This paved path connects to Big Creek State Park and continues on to Des Moines. For a day outing, head down to the Cottonwood Recreation Center at the south end of Saylorville Lake. Reserve a shelter for a picnic, hike the trails, or bring your boat and head out on the water with your pooch.
You and Fido can find pup-friendly areas in the neighborhood of Bridgeview/Edgewater. Start with the Polk City Sports Complex. This residential park allows pooches if they are on a leash. In addition to ball fields and a playground, there are trails for you and your pup to enjoy. For a day trip, head across Saylorville Lake and up to Jester Park along the western shore. As a favorite outdoor site in Iowa, this park offers picnic areas, hiking, boating, and more. Enjoy over 8 miles of trails along the lakeshore and through the woods and ravines. If your pup isn’t frightened by large wildlife, check out the Elk and Bison Educational Plaza and viewing area.
Just 11 miles from Polk City, the community of Ankeny offers a variety of activities for you and your pup. Start with the High Trestle Recreation Trail. You and Fido can walk this repurposed railroad from just east of Polk City to Ankeny or head up to Woodward. Just remember to keep your furry friend on a leash not more than 6 feet long. For some off-leash exercise, take your special companion to the Ankeny Dog Park. There are separate green areas for large and small dogs as well as watering stations and an untreated, natural pond in a separate fenced area. The park is open from sunrise until sunset.