your paddlesports destination

Big Hollow Lake / Recreation Area in Iowa

Trip Overview

Big Hollow is Des Moines County's premiere outdoor recreation destination. It is home to a 178-acre lake with public boat ramp that provide Big Hollow Lakes boating access to the lake. Only a few years ago, the area that is now the lake was forest and trails; today, most of the trees still stand, their canopies rising above the water, making the lake a fish and wildlife haven like no other around.

The lake features excellent bluegill, crappie, channel cat, and bass fishing opportunity either by kayak, canoe or from the shore. For kayak anglers looking for a quieter setting, Big Hollow Recreation Area offers numerous other small ponds within its borders, all of which offer great fishing opportunities throughout the year.

Big Hollow has a diversity of forest types on the property and offers a variety of habitats for various woodland species. The extensive trail system throughout the area gives hikers access to parts far from main roads.

The area offers year round recreational opportunities for the outdoor enthusiast including ice fishing and cross country skiing in the winter and hiking, biking, fishing, hunting, and wildlife viewing all year round. Plans for a 20-mile recreation trail, the Flint River Trail, linking the city of Burlington to Big Hollow, are underway. The trail project has been a cooperative effort between the City of Burlington and Des Moines County. The trail, anticipated to be complete by 2013, will greatly contribute to Big Hollow's existing popularity among outdoor enthusiasts.

Big Hollow Recreation Area is home to a observatory as well as a 25, 50, 100, and 300 meter outdoor shooting range. Each of the ranges have a ten person covered firing line with wood and concrete benches. Several law enforcement agencies, hunter safety courses, as well as local military personnel train at this facility. All ranges are fenced and posted and rules and regulations are enforced. DMCC strives to provide a safe and controlled environment.

Planned development:
Big Hollow is still undergoing development. Plans for the area include the construction of a beachside bathhouse & concession stand, full hookup RV campsites & bathhouse, and 4 large furnished rental cabins featuring wireless internet, indoor plumbing, & electricity. The continued development of Big Hollow will only progress as funding allows. Since most of the funding for the project must come from grants and private donations, YOU can help make the planned developments a reality.
Vital Stats:

  • 798 total acres
  • 178 acre lake with beach, fishing jetties and boat ramp
  • Numerous small ponds
  • Extensive trail system, equestrian accessible


beach, fishing jetties and boat ramp

12 primitive campsites, group camping, numerous picnic shelters


No fees for paddling

$8 per night for primitive camping sites


From Burlington, take Highway 61 North, turn west onto Pleasant Grove Road, then south onto 152nd Avenue


Des Moines County Conservation: (319) 753-8260


Download a topographic map of the lake with GPS locations of fish structures (PDF file):

  • Duration: Day Trip
  • Sport/Activity: Kayaking
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Water Type: Flat/Sheltered Water
  • Group Rates: No

Locations on this Trip