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. 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 in the…
From the guidebook "Hiking Iowa"
Strawberry Point, IA - Hiking, Horseback Riding, Mountain Biking - 8 miles Best Trail in IA - Click to view all (About Top Trails)
Published by Falcon Guides

#3. 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 - Cross-Country Skiing, Hiking - 4.4 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. 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, Horseback Riding, Mountain Biking - 25 miles Best Trail in IA - Click to view all (About Top Trails)
Published by Falcon Guides

#6. 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 Colorado Mountain Club Press

#7. 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

#8. 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 - Backpacking, Hiking - 6.4 miles Best Trail in IA - Click to view all (About Top Trails)
Published by Falcon Guides

#9. 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 - Cross-Country Skiing, Hiking - 4.5 miles Best Trail in IA - Click to view all (About Top Trails)
Published by Falcon Guides

#10. 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 - Cross-Country Skiing, Hiking, Horseback Riding - 35 miles Best Trail in IA - Click to view all (About Top Trails)
Published by Falcon Guides

#11. 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, Mountain Biking - 10.1 miles Best Trail in IA - Click to view all (About Top Trails)
Published by Falcon Guides

#12. Onabike Cruise


On the last Saturday of August the small Missouri River Valley town of Onawa hosts the annual Onabike, the largest one-day ride in western Iowa. The 300-plus riders are treated to fine hospitality and…
From the guidebook "Best Bike Rides in the Midwest"
Onawa, IA - Road Biking - 62.4 miles Best Trail in IA - Click to view all (About Top Trails)
Published by The Globe Pequot Press

#13. 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

#14. 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 - Cross-Country Skiing, Hiking - 7.5 miles Best Trail in IA - Click to view all (About Top Trails)
Published by Falcon Guides

#15. 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

#16. Loess Hills Wildlife Management Area - Sylvan Runkel State Preserve


There’s good reason this is home to the Loess Hills Prairie Seminar: These two preserved areas encompass some of the most incredible terrain for hiking and naturalizing in western Iowa. From your ridg…
From the guidebook "Hiking Iowa"
Onawa, IA - Hiking - 12.4 miles Best Trail in IA - Click to view all (About Top Trails)
Published by Falcon Guides

#17. Geode State Park


Take a creek walk in Geode State Park, named for Iowa’s state rock, and you may find several of the beautiful stones—but it’s illegal to take them home with you. Early spring and summer are the best t…
From the guidebook "Hiking Iowa"
Burlington, IA - Hiking, Mountain Biking - 7 miles Best Trail in IA - Click to view all (About Top Trails)
Published by Falcon Guides

#18. Stone State Park


Designated as an “urban wildlife sanctuary,” Stone State Park seems so removed from the city that once you’re hiking up Mount Lucia, you won’t believe you’re within Sioux City limits. A 9.2-mile loo…
From the guidebook "Hiking Iowa"
Sioux City, IA - Hiking, Horseback Riding, Mountain Biking - 9.2 miles Best Trail in IA - Click to view all (About Top Trails)
Published by Falcon Guides

#19. 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 - Cross-Country Skiing, Hiking - 4.5 miles Best Trail in IA - Click to view all (About Top Trails)
Published by Falcon Guides

#20. Brinton Timber


Perched on the hills overlooking the Skunk River, 320-acre Brinton Timber is part of a 1,000-acre swath of forests along the riparian corridor. Mature oak-hickory forests cover the hills, and in sprin…
From the guidebook "Hiking Iowa"
Brighton, IA - Hiking - 5.3 miles Best Trail in IA - Click to view all (About Top Trails)
Published by Falcon Guides