Trailside Attractions: Grimes Farm and Conservation Center

Just off the Linn Creek Recreational Trail and the Highway 330 Trail, this peaceful spot west of Marshalltown shows visitors the beautiful results of relentless work to heal abused Iowa farmland.

In 1964 Leonard and Mildred Grimes wanted to find a quiet place in the country to raise their family.  After purchasing 700 acres of poor quality farmland the family began the process of reforestation and prairie restoration.  In the early 1990’s portions of their land were donated to the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation to ensure the results of their hard work were preserved. A conservation center was built in 2003 to provide an environmental educational facility and a home for the Marshall County Conservation Board.

Visitors can choose from six hiking paths to see examples of what Iowa landscape originally looked like. Paths travel through hardwood forests, restored prairie, and wetlands.  Each year 5th and 6th graders from local schools take field trips to the farm and spend a day learning about conservation and ecology.  

Grimes Farm and Conservation Center is free to the public and open year round.  Activities and learning opportunities take place throughout the year.  

I had the fortune of visiting the farm with my brother who is a forestry major at Iowa State.  We walked several of the hiking paths stopping at Mildred’s tower.  30 feet in the air provided a fantastic vantage point for seeing the results of the Grimes family’s hard work.  Walking through the forestry planting area my brother explained the drop seed reforestation method used by Leonard and identified trees and plants for me.  After continuing our hike through the timber along Linn Creek and through Rogers Meadow we stopped in at the Conservation Center to admire the nature exhibits.

With two routes accessible from the farm, this is this is a great bike ride destination and an Iowa must-see trailside attraction.

Visitor Information

Grimes Farm Brochure and Map