Diamond Lake is a 98-acre lake sparkling in a 660-acre park. Located on Highway 63 in central Iowa, just eight miles south of Interstate 80 (Exit 191) near the city of Montezuma, the park is managed by the Poweshiek County Conservation Board. Fishing (including ice fishing), camping, hiking, and biking are popular activities of park visitors.
The park is open year round, and electricity and water for the campgrounds are available all year (restrooms, shower houses, and the fish cleaning station are open seasonally from about April 15 to October 20). Boats are restricted to use of trolling motors only, which makes the lake ideal for canoeists and kayakers.
As a resident of Montezuma, my family has visited Diamond Lake Park for over a decade, and my older son even supervised the construction of a picnic table platform as his Eagle Scout project. One of the best additions to the park, in my opinion, has been the Stagecoach Trail. This hard surface trail begins just a few blocks west of Highway 63 at the corner of Madison and Hayes Streets in Montezuma, where there is a paved parking area. The trail is wide enough to accommodate bicyclists and walkers or runners and passes by corn fields and wildflowers on its half-mile leg to the lake. At the crest of the final hill is a gazebo with picnic tables and a great view of the lake and campgrounds.
Continue down the hill--where hickory nuts abound in late fall--and you're by the lake, where you can walk on the road or grass until you reach more paved trails. There are also miles of unpaved trails through the woods for the more adventurous hikers. The other end of the paved Stagecoach Trail cuts through a wildlife area and is surrounded by fields of prairie grass. A large parking area is located at this end of the trail on 480th Avenue.
I've seen plenty of wildlife as I've walked along the trail: deer, pheasants, a snake (small!), plus many birds who serenade you as you walk and enjoy the wildflowers in the warmer months and the stark beauty of the trees in the winter. Both ends of the trail are unshaded, so sunscreen, a hat, and water bottles are recommended for hot summer days. Make plans to visit Diamond Lake and the Stagecoach Trail soon, and you'll come to love it as I have!
All photos by author