Wild and Free Day at Margo Frankel Woods State Park – Des Moines

Margo Frankel Woods State Park is the perfect place to have a #WildandFree Day!

What’s #WildandFree? It’s a community of “mothers and homeschoolers who want their children to not only receive a quality education, but also to experience the adventure, freedom, and wonder of childhood.”

I have totally fallen in love with their Instagram and vision. This past week I invited a few friends together to enjoy the woods with our children!

Margo Frankel Woods State Park Children hauling logs in creek

Planning a “Play in the Woods Day” field trip is easy!

1) Check weather report for a nice day.

2) Choose any outdoor natural area. Make sure to get permission for private land. State Parks are a great public land resource.

3) Invite friends. PLEASE use caution whenever visiting wooded or remote area alone, even when you are with your children.

4) Pack towels, water and snacks. Wear old clothes and let the kids go! Yep, just let them play!

Margo Frankel Woods State Park children having a leaf fight

Place/Event: Margo Frankel Woods State Park
Location: 6245 NW 2nd St Des Moines, Iowa 50313 (this is State Street in Ankeny, go south — the driveway/parking lot is at the top of the hill on State Street/2nd Ave past 66th ave.) 

Cost: Free
Grade/age range: All ages
Group size: unlimited
Hands-on: Yes
Stroller friendly: Yes – need all terrain stroller with larger wheels on crushed gravel trail

Bathrooms:  Yes – no running water
Food: No
Water: No

We met up at the playground at Margo Frankel and then headed into the woods. A crushed gravel hard packed trail leads down to a little stream and area the kids can play off trail. Any stroller with larger wheels should be fine on the path. It’s about a ten minute walk from the parking lot.

Margo Frankel Woods State Park walking up hill in sunlight

You can find the trail (above picture) by walking along the parking lot to the south. Walk around the locked driveway gate and the path will be on the left hand side. It’s easy to find. You have gone too far if you see another playground/shelter. No bathrooms at the bottom by the stream.

Margo Frankel Woods State Park boys running in water

Margo Frankel Woods State Park Dog in Creek

Kids should wear jeans if they are going to play off trail. There are lots of fun sticks and logs that have fallen down to use for building forts or dams. A very shallow stream is irresistible! We brought along a bucket and some shovels.

Margo Frankel Woods State Park children climbing dirt hill

So many fun and special areas to explore as you go off trail. You can find this dirt slope on the northwest side of the wooded trail steps near the stream with the metal bridge.

I always carry a backpack when we hike and play. Here are few other items I would recommend:

  1. Wet/baby wipes.
  2. First aid kit.
  3. Bug spray.
  4. Plastic trash bags.
  5. Zip lock bags.
  6. Wasp spray or mace.

Have fun! We would love to see your adventures at #ftiExplore


That which ought and can best be taught inside the classroom should there be taught, and that which can best be learned through experience dealing directly with native materials and real life situations outside the school should there be learned.

– Julian Smith, 1943, Outside the Classroom, The Educational Forum, 7(4), 363


Margo Frankel Woods State Park

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One comment

  1. Did you know there is a Wild+Free podcast?? I just discovered it a while back, with the Stitcher app. I haven’t actually listened yet, but did add it to my Listen Later list. Just FYI in case you enjoy listening to podcasts.

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