Terra Park is a beautiful 200-acre park with something for everyone! As the largest park in Johnston, it has an 8-acre fishing lake, amphitheater, inclusive playgrounds, and more! This one-of-a-kind park is a must-see if you’re in the Des Moines area.
A brief history of the park
Terra Park is a relatively new park. Extensive park renovations began around 2014, and the park opened to the public in 2018.
Believe it or not, the area was once a sewage lagoon! But you’d never know it today. After hauling in new dirt and testing the soil, the site was deemed safe for restoration. Today, wetlands, prairie, a lake, and a recreation area provide a natural space for all ages to enjoy.
Things to do in Terra Park
Terra Park was designed with nature in mind. From the native plantings to the lake and the nature-inspired prairie playground, the great outdoors is what it’s all about.
Terra Lake has a 2600 square foot ADA-accessible fishing pier and excellent shore fishing! It gets stocked with Bluegill, Largemouth Bass, and Channel Catfish. And if you enjoy trout fishing, rainbow trout are stocked each winter!
Kayak (or canoe)
Terra Lake is an excellent spot to kayak, especially for younger paddlers or those just starting. Quarry Springs Outfitters provides kayak rentals on-site, with paddles and lifejackets. For reservations, see their website.
Wander around the lake
It’s fun to walk the trail and explore the lakeshores. And on the northeast corner of the lake (near the community center) is a waterfall feature and stepping stones to cross the water!
Note that there’s no swimming allowed at the lake.
Play at the playground
The inclusive playground offers several play areas for all ages and abilities. Each station has unique structures encouraging kids to climb, swing, learn, and explore! Plus, an elevated shaded area is a lovely spot for caregivers.
Explore the trails
A soft-surfaced loop trail surrounds the lake, and there are a few other grassy and limestone trails. Also, over 8 miles of paved trails surround the park and go in all directions.
Terra Park is next to the 156-acre Beaver Creek Natural Resources Area, with woodlands, wetlands, and prairie along Beaver Creek. Take trails through the area and even get to Lew Clarkson Park!
The Trestle to Trestle Trail* runs south from the park. It connects with the Inter-Urban Trail in Des Moines. And from there, you can get downtown via the Neal Smith Trail.
*As of 2022, the Johnston Trestle Bridge is under construction, so the trail is closed south of Terra Park.
You’ll find a small and large picnic shelter at the park. They’re both reservable and otherwise first-come, first-serve. The large shelter holds about 150 people, and the small one has two picnic tables.
Play tennis or pickleball
Two tennis courts are behind Crown Point Community Center (to the south). Each court has pickleball markings, and they’re open to the public. They also get used for activities through the community center.
Enjoy the native gardens
The native plantings around Terra Park are helpful for conservation. Another great thing is you can get garden design ideas and learn more about the plants while you’re there. Check out the list of native plantings in each area on this City of Johnston pdf.
Take part in a community event
The park amphitheater has over an acre of green space and gets used for concerts, games, and other community programs. One of the main events is the annual Johnston Green Days celebration, complete with music & entertainment, a carnival, and more!
Crown Point Community Center
The community center is a beautiful gathering space. It hosts several community events and senior activities and is available as an event rental.
Exercise on outdoor equipment
Outdoor exercise equipment is on the southeast side of the Crown Point Community Center.
Things to do nearby
Trestle to Trestle Trail.* This trail expands south of the park, connecting to other Des Moines trails and downtown. You can head in any direction for miles and miles!
*The Johnston Trestle bridge is under construction and closed south of the park (2022).
Sycamore Trails. For an excellent hiking or mountain biking experience, head east of the park to over 6 miles of dirt trails. They take you deep into the woods and along the Des Moines River!
Saylorville Lake is just north of Terra Park. So for an unforgettable outdoor adventure, check out the 6000-acre lake, beautiful recreation areas, and excellent camping!
Float Beaver Creek. You can float right by Terra Park on Beaver Creek! Check out the water trail map here. And if you don’t have a kayak, you’re in luck! Quarry Spring Outfitters rents kayaks to float the creek – see their website for details.
Hungry after a day at the park? No problem. Just a few blocks from the park are several eateries. Panera Bread, Sonic Drive-In, and Bandit Burrito are just a few of the options on Merle Hay Road.
Visit Terra Park today!
Terra Park is at 6400 Pioneer Pkwy, Johnston, IA 50131.