Iowa March 27, 2019
11 Brief But Beautiful Hikes In Iowa You Can Take In Under An Hour
Iowans are lucky to live in such a beautiful place, even though it often gets dismissed as a flyover state. Prove to yourself that the Hawkeye State is full of stunning natural beauty by heading out on these short spring hikes in Iowa this year.
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. Fort Des Moines Nature Trail
Spend 1.7 miles exploring this popular loop trail through Fort Des Moines Park. After you've taken the time to enjoy the fresh air, let the kids play on the playground or lay out a picnic lunch on one of the community tables.
2. Backbone Trail, Backbone State Park
Backbone Trail is a 1 mile loop in the oldest state park in Iowa. This short spring hike will take you across creeks and up into the woods before heading back down to where you began. Look for deer, woodpeckers, and maybe even harmless snakes if it's warm enough.
3. Robertson Bird Sanctuary
The Robertson Bird Sanctuary is a wildlife preserve near Waterloo. The out-and-back trail takes you 1.2 miles, and if you visit in the middle of the day, you might even have the whole place to yourself.
4. Wapsipinicon Loop Trail, Wapsipinicon State Park
The beautiful river loop trail through Wapsipinicon State Park is a 1.4 mile stroll through heaven! This quiet, peaceful trail will show off water views like no other.
5. Ridge Trail, Waubonsie State Park
The two mile Ridge Trail loop is one of the best short spring hikes in Iowa. You can see for miles along the Loess Hills and if you hike quietly, there's a good chance you'll get to spot some wildlife.
6. Nations Bridge Loop Trail
Nations Bridge Loop Trail is a quiet 1.2 mile loop trail in the 80-acre Nations Bridge Park. The park is one of Iowa's best kept secrets, and you'll love spotting birds and taking in the sights and sounds of nature from this quiet oasis.
7. Pilots Knob, Pilots Knob State Park
The hike to the top of the tower at Pilots Knob State Park is less than half a mile, out and back. The wildflowers that line your path make this hike so worth the effort to climb to the top, and the view is to die for.
8. Crows Nest Loop, Ledges State Park
Ledges State Park is full of short spring hikes that show off unique topography. The Crow's Nest is a one mile loop that's known for beautiful wildflowers in the spring.
9. Starr's Cave Park and Preserve
Hike a quarter mile out to Starr's Cave in Burlington, Iowa, for one of the most unique hikes around. With a half-mile out-and-back you can easily hike to the cave, enjoy a small picnic, and be back at the office before your lunch break is over!
10. Wildcat Cave Trail
Wildcat Cave is located near Eldora, and the out-and-back trail is just .6 miles of trekking. The cave and river along the way make for a unique outing.
11. Carney Marsh Trail
The beautiful Carney Marsh Trail near Ankeny is two miles of stunning scenery. The wildflowers and towering trees make for a peaceful escape from city life.
Where will you go this spring? If hiking isn’t your go-to activity when the weather warms up, check out our list of
8 International Spring Festivals In Iowa That Will Give You The Unique Experience You Crave.