Brenton Arboretum

The Trail

After being asked where he would like to go for a bike ride, my son replied with: “I’d like to go somewhere a little gravely and a little grassy.”

The perfect spot for him to ride his favorite type of terrain is only minutes away from home.  Located two miles south of Dallas Center is the Brenton Arboretum.  With seven different grass trails and the gravel drive, there are lots of options for getting around the museum of trees.  It is also less than 3 miles from the Raccoon River Valley Trail via gravel roads.

The arboretum is in an unsuspecting location in between farm fields.  It was created by the Brenton family using land purchased in 1853 for $1.25 an acre. A collection of over 2,000 trees are included in the collection.  Each are labeled with its botanical name.  Maps of the park and the location of trees are listed on maps available in the kiosk just inside the park.  A playscape and pavillion provide great spots for spending time with the family out in nature.  Lots of events take place throughout the year.  For all the details check out the Brenton Arboretum website.  

Trail Map


The Ride

The arboretum is a great location for my son to ride independently and explore on his own.  The gravel drive has some significant hills to climb up and coast down.  Grass trails are wide and nicely groomed.   With the ground frozen rock hard we didn’t have to worry about our tires leaving their own trail.  

Our aim is to direct most of our energies toward those people who wish to learn and be out-of-doors, love woody plants and will walk the land to feel its presence, and understand what is around them.
— Buz Brenton, Founder Brenton Arboretum

I stopped several times to enjoy the beautiful views, all in shades of winter-brown and blue.  My son spent some time exploring the natural playscape.  There’s a tunnel to crawl through and an old tree to climb on and swing from.  

Riding around Lake Homestead we saw a muskrat house among the cattails.  On previous visits we have seen coyote, deer, and lots of birds.  

The Brenton Arboretum is “a little gravely and a little grassy” and a beautiful spot for a exploring nature and learning about Iowa’s plants and trees.