Hiking is an excellent way to exercise, get some fresh air, and have some natural relaxation. However, not everyone has the time or desire to go on long, strenuous hikes. For the casual hiker who wishes to take in extraordinary views without having to struggle through harsh terrain, here are 10 hiking trails under 5 miles.
1. Hitchcock Nature Center, Honey Creek, Iowa
Measuring in at just under 3 miles, Hitchcock Nature Center is a beautiful piece of Iowa scenery. It's a great hike for all skill levels, and offers a multitude of activities as well.
2. Wildcat Den State Park, Muscatine, Iowa
This is the longest hike on the list, with the trails being almost precisely 5 miles in length. Its beautiful rock formations set Wildcat Den apart from other parks in Iowa, and the preserved state of the habitat makes for a truly authentic experience to any Iowan or wandering hiker.
3. Copper Creek Trail, Pleasant Hill, Iowa
At just 1.2 miles of scenic wonders, Copper Creek Trail is perfect for a short birdwatching walk. It also offers a pleasant array of other wildlife that will be sure to please the eye.
4. Squirrel's Nest, Waterworks Park, Iowa
Ideal for everyone from amateurs to seasoned hikers, Squirrel's Nest is a refreshing walk through the woods. Not too many people traverse this easy trail, so its seclusion makes it feel all the more authentic.
5. Ledges State Park, Boone, Iowa
Ledges’s terrain is unusual for Iowa to say the least. The diverse geography offers hikers astonishing viewpoints, and surrounds them with unforgettable scenery. Ledges is arguably the most popular spot on the list, but its wide trails make plenty of room for all sorts of visitors, and nobody should have to miss out on everything the park has to offer.
6. Horseshoe Bluff Nature Trail, Dubuque, Iowa
Less than a mile of rolling hills and beautiful bluffs, Horseshoe Bluff gives hikers grand landscapes along the Mississippi. A favorite of many locals, this hidden gem is known to be slightly more challenging than most hikes on this list. Test your vigor and take in the splendid vistas this hike has to offer.
7. GreenBelt Lake Loop, Waterloo, Iowa
Perhaps the easiest hike on the list, Greenbelt Lake Loop takes visitors along the waterfront for a pleasant stroll. The water is clean, the land is hearty, and there is never a day that wouldn’t be a bit more wholesome without taking a hike such as this.
8. Woodpecker Trail, Coralville, Iowa
This is a mild, 4.7-mile hike ideal for those who don't mind breaking a sweat. The trail is also near Coralville Reservoir, so visitors may fish or swim if they choose to.
9. Browns Woods, West Des Moines, Iowa
Another venue near Des Moines, Browns Woods is a popular trail for hiking and running. This 2-mile trail has wide paths that allow for large groups to traverse it with ease. Take your family, friends, or just enjoy the scenery by your lonesome for a truly pure experience.
10. Whitewater Canyon, Bernard, Iowa
Whitewater Canyon is a very unique Iowan landmark. It features cliffs as high as 200 feet, and there are plenty of gorgeous views packed into its short 2.5-mile looped trail.
So quit making excuses. You only have so much free time, and what better way to spend it than hiking the beautifully diverse Iowa parks?