We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
1. Pikes Peak State Park, McGregor
Pikes Peak State Park is an incredibly gorgeous hiking spot in Iowa, with wooded areas, bluffs, Bridal Veil Waterfall and an overlook on a 500-foot bluff that affords incredible views of the Mississippi River.
2. High Trestle Trail
The High Trestle Trail is a great place to hike in the winter, with 25 miles of trail that connects Ankeny, Sheldahl, Slater, Madrid and Woodward. It offers easy hiking and great scenery, and it passes over the unique High Trestle Trail Bridge, which is one of the largest trail bridges in the world.
3. Heart of Iowa Nature Trail, Story County
The Heart of Iowa Nature Trail (HOINT) is a multi-purpose trail for hiking, bicycling, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling and more. The trail covers 24 miles and is not continuous the whole way, so make sure to plan your route before you begin. To learn more about the route,
4. Yellow River State Forest
Yellow River State Forest provides beautiful, rugged natural beauty, with 45 miles of multi-purpose trails that range from easy to moderate difficulty. As you walk, you’ll enjoy scenic overlooks, wildlife, woods, streams and more.
5. Puddle Jumper Trail, Orange City
The Puddle Jumper Trail is a leisurely two miles that connects Orange City and Alton, Iowa. Along the trail, there is scenery that includes farmland, prairie remnants and bridges. And if it snows, you’ll be surrounded by a serene winter wonderland.
6. Gray’s Lake Park, Des Moines
The trail around Gray’s Lake at Gray’s Lake Park is a great place to hike at any time of year. In the winter, you’ll be able to enjoy walking, snowshoeing, and a great view of the lake from the bridge.
7. Bruce Schomaker Recreational Area, Boyden
The Bruce Schomaker Recreational Area in Boyden, Iowa, offers a beautiful 130 acres of natural beauty to explore. The trail system there is equipped for hiking, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.
8. Ledges State Park, Madrid
Ledges State Park offers some of the most scenic natural beauty in Iowa. As you walk along the 5.4 mile trail, you’ll take in scenic overlooks of Pea’s Creek “canyon,” beautiful wooded areas and more. While much of the hiking here is considered at least moderate in difficulty, there is a fully accessible interpretive trail at the southern end of the park.
9. Dolliver State Park, Lehigh
The trails at Dolliver Memorial State Park offer plenty of natural beauty, with dramatic bluffs and ravines along the Des Moines River. There’s a trail system that takes you past the Copperas Beds, unique sandstone formations that are 100 feet above Prairie Creek. The trail continues back down past Boneyard Hollow and to the Indian Mounds. It is fairly hilly, so make sure to bring the proper gear for navigating up and down the inclines.
10. Lake MacBride State Park, Solon
Lake MacBride State Park is a great place to take in the winter landscape, from the frozen lake to snow-covered trees. The park has multi-use trails that travel around the lake, with plenty of opportunities for wildlife spotting. The trails are great for hiking, cross-country skiing and snowmobiling.
11. Backbone State Park, Strawberry Point
Backbone State Park has 21 miles of multi-use trails and lots of beautiful scenery to take in along the way. In addition to hiking, in winter, the trails accommodate snowmobiling and cross-country skiing.
12. Trout Run Trail, Decorah
The Trout Run Trail is in beautiful Northeast Iowa near Decorah. It has a paved recreation trail that follows a 12-mile loop around Decorah, and it’s the perfect place to take in the winter landscape. Scenery along the trail includes limestone bluffs, algific talus slopes, the Oneota Valley and the Upper Iowa River. It’s great trail for hiking, bicycling and cross-country skiing.