We may not have mountains, but we’re not going to let that stop us from getting out and taking a nice hike. In fact, we Iowans have the pleasure of enjoying countless hiking trails of all levels of difficulty. But if you’re looking for a more relaxing hike, the following 14 trails are just the thing for you. They’re perfect for small children, typically sedentary people and anyone who just wants a nice stroll in the beautiful Iowa wilderness.
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. Hitchcock Nature Area, Honey Creek
The Hitchock Nature Center consists of 1,268 acres located in the heart of the Loess Hills. The Loess Hills harbor some of the largest remaining prairie remnants in Iowa and provide refuge for plants and animals found nowhere else in the state. Hitchcock is open every day of the year for hiking, camping, picnicking, bird watching, snow sledding, star gazing, or simply enjoying nature.
2. Pine Lake State Park, Eldora
Located in Eldora, Pine Lake State Park offers an extensive trail system that's perfect for bikers or joggers. Part of the trail is paved, part of it is rocky, but the scenes all around are breathtaking. There is also a sandy beach for swimmers in the summer, as well as a picnic shelter.
3. Wapsipinicon State Park, Anamosa
Wapsipinicon State Park, dedicated in 1923, was one of Iowa's first state parks. The sandstone and limestone bluffs in the 394-acre park are covered with moss and columbine, and hiking through a multitude of flowers, trees and wildlife leads one to splendid views from the bluffs.
4. Wabash Trace Nature Trail, Western Iowa
The Wabash Trace Nature Trail is a gorgeous, 63-mile trail that runs through Council Bluffs, Mineola, Silver City, Malvern, Imogene, Shenandoah, Coin and Blanchard. Trail-goers will get the chance to walk the trail through the Loess Hills, and enjoy some of the finest scenery in all of Iowa.
5. Mines of Spain State Recreation Area, Dubuque
The Mines of Spain is a 7.5 mile out and back trail near Dubuque. The trail is primarily used for hiking, but the area opens up for cross-country skiing in the winter.
6. Ledges State Park, Boone
Located near Boone, Ledges is a favorite spot for hikers and nature enthusiasts. The park has a 5.4-mile trail, cliff areas, and many beautiful wildflowers.
7. Coralville Reservoir
There are several different hiking trails around Coralville Reservoir, including the Cedar Valley Nature Trail, Sugar Bottom Mountain Bike Trail, Squire Point & Woodpecker Trail, Tailwater Riverwalk and the Veterans Trail, which is wheelchair accessible.
8. Maquoketa Caves State Park, Maquoketa
This popular spot in Maquoketa is a must-see for out-of-towners and in-staters alike. Six miles of trails, a beautiful forest, and waterfall are perfect for hikers, campers, and nature tourists.
9. Wildcat Den State Park, Muscatine
Wildcat Den State Park in Muscatine features an extensive trail system with a beautiful view of the 75-foot cliffs and rock formations. There are also several historic structures perfect for exploring.
10. Pikes Peak State Park, McGregor
Pikes Peak, located in McGregor, is hands-down one of the most beautiful places in Iowa. On its trails, hikers can look out over the valley from high bluffs, and enjoy some of the most beautiful scenery in the state.
11. Yellow River State Forest, Allamakee County
Yellow River State Forest is located in the southeastern corner of Allamakee County. There are a total of 45 miles of multipurpose trails that range from easy to moderate. On all of these trails hikers can explore scenic overlooks, mature timber, rare bird species, trout streams and many other natural wonders.
12. Clive Greenbelt Trail, Clive
The Clive Greenbelt Trail is an 11 mile urban recreational trail in Clive. This very busy recreational trail runs through Polk and Dallas Counties in Iowa. It is a curvy, paved asphalt and concrete trail that offers some beautiful views in central Iowa.
13. Pilot Knob State Park, Forest City
Pilot Knob State Park is the second highest point in Iowa, giving visitors have a spectacular view as well as a spectacular hike on one of the various different hiking and horseback riding trails.
14. Stone State Park, Sioux City
Stone State Park in Sioux City contains 6 miles of equestrian trails, 6 miles of mountain bike and snowmobile trails and 8 miles of hiking and cross-country skiing trails, so adventurers of all kinds will find fun!
What are your favorite hiking spots or nature trails in Iowa? Share some of them in the comments below!