If you consider yourself an expert explorer, you’ve got to add these seven underrated best hikes in Iowa to your outdoor bucket list! Whether you visit in the spring and summer to enjoy wildflowers and butterflies, or you make the trek in the fall for leaf-peeping, these are sure to be quiet spots where you’ll get in touch with mother nature. Come rediscover the underappreciated beauty of the best hikes in Iowa on these trails:

What are your favorite underrated hikes in Iowa? Let us know in the comments, or nominate your favorite park!

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Best Hikes in Iowa

What are some of the best scenic hikes in Iowa?  

Let’s be real here: when people think of Iowa, they don’t exactly think of an epic hiking destination, but maybe they ought to. After all, Iowa is truly beautiful – just ask anyone whose heart is here. That being said, we do have some pretty awesome hiking trails in Iowa, and lots of them are pretty easy (more about that in a moment). Some of our favorite top contenders for the best scenic hikes in Iowa include Maquoketa Caves Loop, at Maquoketa Caves State Park. It’s a 1.7-mile trek through a designated “special scenic area” and includes caves! Then, try out the Wildcat Den Trail, at Wildcat Den State Park. It’s four miles long and features fascinating geological and natural features like the famous Steamboat Rock and the Devil’s Punchbowl. Also be sure to check out Horseshoe Bluff Nature Tail, at the Mines of Spain Easement, for a lovely short trek through some stunningly lush and green surroundings. That one’s just under a mile long, so it makes for a great short hike! Finally, look into the Blue Heron Lake Loop Trail, at Raccoon River Park. It’s 3.3 miles of easygoing wandering along a gravel/paved trail around the lake. Anyone who’s a fan of awesome scenic hikes in Iowa will love these! 

What are the best easy hikes in Iowa? 

Lucky for those of us who like to get outside and enjoy the great outdoors, most of the hikes you’ll find in Iowa are quite easy. Among the best easy hikes in Iowa are a couple of the above-mentioned ones, like the Maquoketa Caves Loop and the Blue Heron Lake Loop. Other excellent easy hiking trails in Iowa include gems like the Chute and Heritage Trail Loop at the Hitchcock Nature Area – be sure to bring water, as there’s no potable water along the way. There’s also the Cedar Cliff Tail, at Palisades-Kepler State Park, a 2.1-mile hike with beautiful lake views, and the High Trestle Trail is perfect for wanderers, as it’s a lengthy (but easy) 24.9-mile trek along a rail trail from Ankeny to Woodward. We bet you didn’t know there were all these wonderful hiking trails in Iowa! 

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