Palisades-Kepler State Park

Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52406

Palisades-Kepler State Park

Palisades-Kepler State Park Professional Guide

Detailed Trail Description from our Guidebook

"“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 in her book Song of Years. The palisades for which the park was named are sheer 60-foot-high cliffs that loom over the valley of the red cedar. Hiking trails traverse the palisade crests and the forested hills of the park, which doubles as a rock-climber’s paradise.

To stand above an eastern Iowa river, whose downward action has cut a wide chasm in the surrounding forested hills, is to see that river not only for what it is but for what it once was. The resistant dolomite cliffs towering above the Cedar River at Palisades-Kepler were deposited 420 to 440 million years ago, when they were muddy tropical reef–like masses on the Silurian Sea floor. Colonial coral, crinoid beds, and brachiopod fossils found in the mounds of the exposed Scotch Grove and Gower Formations paint a picture of a sea that was very different from those of today. Organisms that once inhabited shallow marine shelves are now deepwater dwelling, their old niches having been commandeered during the last 400-plus million years."

More Palisades-Kepler State Park Professional Guides

Detailed Trail Descriptions from Our Guidebooks

Best Easy Day Hikes: Cedar Rapids (Falcon Guides)
Lynn Goya and Alexander Goya
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"Palisades-Kepler is a wonderful hike with high cliffs that look out over the Cedar River and winding trails within native woodlands that include ancient Indian mounds, picturesque creeks, and wooded glens. One of the oldest state parks in Iowa, established in 1922, this 840-acre park includes hardwood forests high atop the Palisade bluffs overlooking the Cedar River. Early in the last century, visitors would come to spend the night at the log cabin restaurant/hotel or just to enjoy dinner in the cool breeze from the river. In the 1920s and 1930s, American poet Carl Sandburg came each summer when he taught at nearby Cornell College in Mt. Vernon."

Palisades-Kepler State Park Trip Reports

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This is just off Highway 30 near Cedar Rapids. You will enter through a steep decline and head down towards the Cedar River. From there, there are some trails along the river.

There is also some rock climbing on some cliffs next to the river and on the other side of the water.

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Trail Information

Cedar Rapids
Nearby City
602 feet
Elevation Gain
Trail Type
Skill Level
Approximately 1 to 2 hours
USGS Bertran
Local Maps

Trail Log