Best Trails of Iowa

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

  • #1 Ledges State Park

    4 Reviews

    Boone, IA

    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 ...
    •  Approximately 2 to 4 hours
    •  5.4 miles
    •  Guide

    Picturesque sandstone bluffs line the canyon of Pea’s Creek just before it enters the Des Moines River. Take the 5.4-mile ...

  • #2 Backbone State Park

    0 Reviews

    Strawberry Point, IA

    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 ...
    •  Approximately 3 to 5 hours
    •  8 miles
    •  Guide

    When E. R. Harlan spoke during the 1920 ceremonies dedicating Iowa’s first state park, he quoted Shakespeare to convey the ...

  • #3 Coralville Reservoir - Linder and Squire Points

    4 Reviews

    Iowa City, IA

    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 ...
    •  Approximately 1 to 3
    •  4.4 miles
    •  Guide

    One of the many developed trail systems around the Coralville Reservoir–Lake MacBride complex, the connecting loops of Linder ...

  • #4 Maquoketa Caves State Park

    2 Reviews

    Maquoketa, IA

    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 g ...
    •  Approximately 3 to 5 hours
    •  6 miles
    •  Guide

    The 323-acre Maquoketa Caves State Park offers 6 miles of hiking trails and spelunking for varying levels of curiosity and ...

  • #5 Yellow River State Forest - Paint Creek Unit

    1 Reviews

    Harpers Ferry, IA

    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 ...
    •  Day hike or long weekend
    •  25 miles
    •  Guide

    When you tell Iowa outdoor-lovers you’re going backpacking in the state, most assume your destination is Yellow River State ...

  • #6 Hawkeye Point - Iowa Highpoint

    1 Reviews

    Sibley, IA

    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 ...
    •  Guide

    Highpoint rank by height: 42nd. We enjoyed the opportunity to meet Mr. Sterler as he was mowing his lawn when we visited ...

  • #7 Palisades-Kepler State Park

    1 Reviews

    Cedar Rapids, IA

    “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 ...
    •  Approximately 1 to 2 hours
    •  3.8 miles
    •  Guide

    “The valley of the red cedar is in eastern Iowa, a long strip of fertile land sprawling out besides the river whose name ...

  • #8 Hitchcock Nature Area

    1 Reviews

    Crescent, IA

    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 ...
    •  Approximately 3 to 4 hours to overnight
    •  6.4 miles
    •  Guide

    Just twenty minutes northeast of the Council Bluffs–Omaha area, this new park will enchant you. Trails wind through restored ...

  • #9 Wildcat Den State Park

    1 Reviews

    Muscatine, IA

    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, ...
    •  Approximately 2 to 3 hours
    •  4.5 miles
    •  Guide

    The cats for which the park was named were mostly killed off in the mid-1800s, although rumors of bobcat sightings float ...

  • #10 Pikes Peak State Park

    0 Reviews

    McGregor, IA

    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 ...
    •  Approximately 3 to 5 hours
    •  10.1 miles
    •  Guide

    Though Iowa’s Pikes Peak shares its name with the better known 14,110-foot peak in Colorado, Lieutenant Zebulon Pike encountered ...

  • #11 Brushy Creek State Recreation Area

    2 Reviews

    Fort Dodge, IA

    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 ...
    •  Short and long day hikes
    •  35 miles
    •  Guide

    Brushy Creek contains 35 miles of multiuse trails and offers a multitude of recreational opportunities, including hunting, ...

  • #12 Loess Hills Wildlife Management Area - Sylvan Runkel State Preserve

    2 Reviews

    Onawa, IA

    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 ...
    •  Approximately 4 to 6 hours
    •  12.4 miles
    •  Guide

    There’s good reason this is home to the Loess Hills Prairie Seminar: These two preserved areas encompass some of the most ...

  • #13 Onabike Cruise

    1 Reviews

    Onawa, IA

    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 ...
    •  62.4 miles
    •  Guide

    On the last Saturday of August the small Missouri River Valley town of Onawa hosts the annual Onabike, the largest one-day ...

  • #14 Tour of the Mississippi River Valley Classic

    0 Reviews

    Dubuque, IA

    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 ...
    •  108.3 miles
    •  Guide

    The Tour of the Mississippi River Valley (TOMRV) is your opportunity to enjoy terrific scenery and take on the challenge ...

  • #15 Mines of Spain State Recreation Area

    1 Reviews

    Dubuque, IA

    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 ...
    •  Approximately 2 to 5 hours
    •  7.5 miles
    •  Guide

    Mines of Spain State Recreation Area, located on the bluffs overlooking Catfish Creek and the Mississippi River, encompasses ...

  • #16 Geode State Park

    0 Reviews

    Burlington, IA

    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 ...
    •  Approximately 2 to 3 hours
    •  7 miles
    •  Guide

    Take a creek walk in Geode State Park, named for Iowa’s state rock, and you may find several of the beautiful stones—but ...

  • #17 Stone State Park

    1 Reviews

    Sioux City, IA

    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 ...
    •  Approximately 3 to 5 hours
    •  9.2 miles
    •  Guide

    Designated as an “urban wildlife sanctuary,” Stone State Park seems so removed from the city that once you’re hiking up Mount ...

  • #18 Hickory Hills Park - Casey's Paha State Preserve

    1 Reviews

    Cedar Falls, IA

    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 ...
    •  Approximately 2 to 3 hours
    •  4.5 miles
    •  Guide

    Geologically, biologically, and recreationally, Hickory Hills Park is an island in a sea of intense agricultural cultivation. ...

  • #19 Brinton Timber

    0 Reviews

    Brighton, IA

    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 ...
    •  Approximately 3 to 4 hours
    •  5.3 miles
    •  Guide

    Perched on the hills overlooking the Skunk River, 320-acre Brinton Timber is part of a 1,000-acre swath of forests along ...

  • #20 Lincoln Highway Challenge

    0 Reviews

    Iowa City, IA

    If you, like Tom Conway, are into exploring historic roadway, you might do as he has and organize a ride your local bike club. So what if there are a few hills along the way, including the infamous ...
    •  65.6 miles
    •  Guide

    If you, like Tom Conway, are into exploring historic roadway, you might do as he has and organize a ride your local bike ...