The 7 best Iowa hiking trails for 2021

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Outdoor recreation opportunities are plentiful in Iowa, especially for outdoor enthusiasts who enjoy hiking. From rolling hills to scenic prairies or rocky bluffs and dense forests, Iowa has a hiking trail to explore the wonders of the outdoors.

Ledges State Park

ledges state park iowa

Located in Boone, Iowa this 5.4-mile loop features beautiful views with sandstone bluffs along the canyon of Pea’s Creek. Steep slopes provide a challenge for experienced hikers and for more casual hikers the interpretive trail around Lost Lake provides a less challenging hike.

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Yellow River State Forest

Yellow River State Forest

Located in Harpers Ferry, Iowa this trail provides a perfect getaway for outdoor enthusiasts. Over 25 miles of trails wind through scenic river valleys and giant bluffs where hikers can take in breathtaking views at many of the trails overlooks. Hikers can camp overnight at one of the four “backcountry” campsites.

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Maquoketa Caves State Park

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Located near Maquoketa, Iowa hikers of all ages will enjoy over 6 miles of hiking trails. Maquoketa Caves State Park offers some of Iowa’s most interesting geological features including limestone formations, rugged bluffs and Iowa’s largest cavern system. Hikers will enjoy crossing the 60-foot bridge that spans the Raccoon Creek or catching a glimpse of the unique balanced rock. Some caves are large enough to explore by walking through them and others are best viewed by crawling.

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Palisades-Kepler State Park

Palisades-Kepler State Park

Located near historic Mount Vernon, Iowa Palisades-Kepler State Park keeps hikers interested with its rocky terrain, bluffs and breathtaking views of the Cedar River. A great place to camp and hike with 44 campsites and four family cabins. With six miles of hiking trails, hikers can get some great exercise while exploring wildlife and scenery on the trail.

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Wildcat Den State Park

Wildcat Den State Park

Hikers will enjoy the 4.5 miles of hiking trails at Wildcat Den State Park located near Muscatine, Iowa. The trails wind through bluffs and rock outcroppings to provide amazing views that outdoor enthusiasts will appreciate. Some of the features hikers can enjoy along the trial include “Devils Punch Bowl,” “Steamboat Rock,” and “Fat Man’s Squeeze. ” Another focal point is the Pine Creek Grist Mill, originally built in 1848. On the National Register of Historic Places as one of the best remaining examples of mid nineteenth century mills in the country. Hikers can also view the historic Melpine Schoolhouse near the mill.

Pikes Peak State Park

Pikes Peak State Park

With 10.1 miles of hiking trails, Pikes Peak State Park located near McGregor Iowa, is a delight for hikers. Hikers can explore stunning wooded bluffs and breathtaking valleys. The trails feature limestone embedded with fossil remains and a chance to view the natural spring, Bridal Veil Falls. There is also a trail that provides hikers with a challenging hike to Point Ann for views of the quaint town of McGregor.

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Loess Hills Wildlife Management Area

Loess Hills Wildlife Management Area

Loess Hills has over 12.4 miles of hiking trails and offers some amazing terrain for hiking in western Iowa. Formed thousands of years ago from finely windblown silt left behind by the glaciers making the natural features found here like those of only one other place in the world, the Yellow River Valley of China. The Five Ridge Prairie has several trails that take hikers past fields of wildflowers and forests. The trail takes hikers to a two-hundred foot ridge overlooking miles of prairie.

No matter what the season, Iowa offers miles of trails for hikers to explore.

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