Best Trails of Iowa

This list represents the most popular trails in Iowa (learn more about Top Trails). Use this list to plan your next Iowa outdoor trip. Select a state and/or activity below to find even more top trails.

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#1. Ledges State Park


Picturesque sandstone bluffs line the canyon of Pea’s Creek just before it enters the Des Moines River. Take the 5.4-mile loop around the upland prairie reconstruction, down to the canyon, over to the…
From the guidebook "Hiking Iowa"
Boone, IA - Hiking - 5.4 miles Best Trail in IA - Click to view all (About Top Trails)
Published by Falcon Guides

#2. Yellow River State Forest - Paint Creek Unit


When you tell Iowa outdoor-lovers you’re going backpacking in the state, most assume your destination is Yellow River State Forest. With 25 miles of trails that wind through deep river valleys and ove…
From the guidebook "Hiking Iowa"
Harpers Ferry, IA - Hiking - 25 miles Best Trail in IA - Click to view all (About Top Trails)
Published by Falcon Guides

#3. Backbone State Park


When E. R. Harlan spoke during the 1920 ceremonies dedicating Iowa’s first state park, he quoted Shakespeare to convey the importance of the sanctuary: “. . . those who ‘find tongues in trees, books i…
From the guidebook "Hiking Iowa"
Strawberry Point, IA - Hiking - 8 miles Best Trail in IA - Click to view all (About Top Trails)
Published by Falcon Guides

#4. Maquoketa Caves State Park


The 323-acre Maquoketa Caves State Park offers 6 miles of hiking trails and spelunking for varying levels of curiosity and ability. Situated in the Raccoon Creek Valley and one of the most geologicall…
From the guidebook "Hiking Iowa"
Maquoketa, IA - Hiking - 6 miles Best Trail in IA - Click to view all (About Top Trails)
Published by Falcon Guides

#5. Hawkeye Point - Iowa Highpoint


Highpoint rank by height: 42nd. We enjoyed the opportunity to meet Mr. Sterler as he was mowing his lawn when we visited on a chilly May morning, and found him to be wonderfully friendly and hospitabl…
From the guidebook "Highpoint Adventures: The Complete Guide to the 50 State Highpoints"
Sibley, IA - Hiking Best Trail in IA - Click to view all (About Top Trails)
Published by Winger Books

#6. Lewis & Clark Trail: Council Bluffs to Onawa, Iowa


This eTrail covers one complete segment of the Lewis and Clark Trail written for road bikers. It contains an overview of the segment with all the major attractions along the route including parks, his…
From the guidebook "Bicycling the Lewis & Clark Trail"
Council Bluffs, IA - Road Biking - 67 miles Best Trail in IA - Click to view all (About Top Trails)
Published by Falcon Guides

#7. Tour of the Mississippi River Valley Classic


The Tour of the Mississippi River Valley (TOMRV) is your opportunity to enjoy terrific scenery and take on the challenge of the tough terrain created by the great river and its tributaries. It's also…
From the guidebook "Best Bike Rides in the Midwest"
Dubuque, IA - Road Biking - 108.3 miles Best Trail in IA - Click to view all (About Top Trails)
Published by The Globe Pequot Press

#8. Coralville Reservoir - Linder and Squire Points


One of the many developed trail systems around the Coralville Reservoir–Lake MacBride complex, the connecting loops of Linder and Squire Points Trails have long served as a haven for dog walkers and t…
From the guidebook "Hiking Iowa"
Iowa City, IA - Hiking - 4.4 miles Best Trail in IA - Click to view all (About Top Trails)
Published by Falcon Guides

#9. Palisades-Kepler State Park


“The valley of the red cedar is in eastern Iowa, a long strip of fertile land sprawling out besides the river whose name it bears.” So said native Iowan Bess Streeter Aldrich of the Cedar River Valley…
From the guidebook "Hiking Iowa"
Cedar Rapids, IA - Hiking - 3.8 miles Best Trail in IA - Click to view all (About Top Trails)
Published by Falcon Guides

#10. Hitchcock Nature Area


Just twenty minutes northeast of the Council Bluffs–Omaha area, this new park will enchant you. Trails wind through restored prairie and dark hollows, then climb steep loess bluffs to the ridgelines f…
From the guidebook "Hiking Iowa"
Crescent, IA - Hiking - 6.4 miles Best Trail in IA - Click to view all (About Top Trails)
Published by Falcon Guides

#11. Iowa - Rough Guides


Although at times serene, and almost always verdant, nothing about Iowa truly stands out: this 55,000-square-mile chunk of the Great Plains doesn’t even manage to be completely flat, it just wobbles u…
From the guidebook "The Rough Guide to USA"
Des Moines, IA - Hiking Best Trail in IA - Click to view allBestHiking Trail - Click to view all (About Top Trails)
Published by Rough Guides

#12. Wildcat Den State Park


The cats for which the park was named were mostly killed off in the mid-1800s, although rumors of bobcat sightings float around often enough. You can still see the Pennsylvanian sandstone outcrops, mo…
From the guidebook "Hiking Iowa"
Muscatine, IA - Hiking - 4.5 miles Best Trail in IA - Click to view all (About Top Trails)
Published by Falcon Guides

#13. Pikes Peak State Park


Though Iowa’s Pikes Peak shares its name with the better known 14,110-foot peak in Colorado, Lieutenant Zebulon Pike encountered the grand bluffs rising above the Mississippi River long before he came…
From the guidebook "Hiking Iowa"
McGregor, IA - Hiking - 10.1 miles Best Trail in IA - Click to view all (About Top Trails)
Published by Falcon Guides

#14. Brushy Creek State Recreation Area


Brushy Creek contains 35 miles of multiuse trails and offers a multitude of recreational opportunities, including hunting, fishing, boating, and equestrian and hiking trails. A controversial 1967 prop…
From the guidebook "Hiking Iowa"
Fort Dodge, IA - Hiking - 35 miles Best Trail in IA - Click to view all (About Top Trails)
Published by Falcon Guides

#15. Effigy Mounds National Monument - North and South Units


Traversing the bluffs that overlook the confluence of the Mississippi and Yellow Rivers provides one of the best cultural history lessons to be found in Iowa. After a day spent wandering among the ear…
From the guidebook "Hiking Iowa"
Marquette, IA - Hiking - 12.5 miles Best Trail in IA - Click to view all (About Top Trails)
Published by Falcon Guides

#16. Mines of Spain State Recreation Area


Mines of Spain State Recreation Area, located on the bluffs overlooking Catfish Creek and the Mississippi River, encompasses Catfish Creek State Preserve and the Julien Dubuque Monument (on the Nation…
From the guidebook "Hiking Iowa"
Dubuque, IA - Hiking - 7.5 miles
Published by Falcon Guides

#17. Hickory Hills Park - Casey's Paha State Preserve


Geologically, biologically, and recreationally, Hickory Hills Park is an island in a sea of intense agricultural cultivation. A 665-acre area in Tama County, the park’s major feature is Casey’s Paha,…
From the guidebook "Hiking Iowa"
Cedar Falls, IA - Hiking - 4.5 miles
Published by Falcon Guides

#18. Rock Creek State Park


The 10.5-mile loop trail around Rock Creek Lake gives you quite the look into native ecosystems and those changed by development. Several managed prairie remnants spend the summer blooming a sheer bla…
From the guidebook "Hiking Iowa"
Newton, IA - Hiking - 10.5 miles
Published by Falcon Guides

#19. Lacey-Keosauqua State Park


The unparalleled beauty of the forested bluffs rising from the huge horseshoe bend in the Des Moines River reveal each season’s spectacular show. Winter's snow cover forms a contemplative silence foll…
From the guidebook "Hiking Iowa"
Keosququa, IA - Hiking - 9.5 miles
Published by Falcon Guides

#20. Waubonsie State Park


The southernmost protected area in Iowa’s Loess Hills, Waubonsie actually serves as a refuge. To be found here are typical southern and western plants, butterflies, birds, mammals, and reptiles, many…
From the guidebook "Hiking Iowa"
Hamburg, IA - Hiking - 5.6 miles
Published by Falcon Guides