Skip to content

Discover The Hidden Gems: Explore The Best Hiking Trails In Iowa!

    Hiking Trails In Iowa

    Discover the Hidden Gems by exploring the best hiking trails in Iowa. With over 90 state parks, there is an ample number of trails to choose from. While the approach to which trail to take depends on your experience and endurance, there are several that are suitable for beginners. Some of the best include the Loess Hills, Maquoketa Caves, and the Backbone State Park.

    Iowa is often known for its sprawling cornfields and flat prairies. However, there are plenty of hidden gems and natural beauty spots within the state that offer an exciting hiking experience for outdoor enthusiasts. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or a beginner, the hiking trails in Iowa offer something for everyone. From rolling hills to lush forests and stunning waterfalls, these trails are a must-visit for those who love to explore the great outdoors.

    Pikes Peak State Park

    One of the best hiking trails in Iowa is located in Pikes Peak State Park. The park offers 11 miles of hiking trails with stunning views of the towering bluffs along the Mississippi River. The trails are well-maintained and offer varying degrees of difficulty, making it perfect for novice and experienced hikers alike.

    The High Trestle Trail

    The High Trestle Trail is a stunning 25-mile hiking trail that spans across five counties in Iowa. The trail features a unique 13-story bridge that provides hikers with spectacular views of the Des Moines River Valley. The trail also features several art installations that add an extra element of surprise and wonder to the experience.

    Maquoketa Caves State Park

    Maquoketa Caves State Park is a must-visit for any adventurer, home to thirteen different caves that you can hike and explore. The park offers several hiking trails that vary in difficulty and length, from an easy half-mile trail to a challenging three-mile trail. The caves themselves are the perfect backdrop for a unique hiking experience, offering breathtaking views of stalactites and stalagmites.

    Ledges State Park

    Ledges State Park is situated on the edge of the Des Moines River Valley and is home to several unique hiking trails that wind around the massive limestone cliffs for which the park is named. The park offers several hiking trails of varying difficulty and length, so there’s something for hikers of all levels. The park also has several picnic areas, making it a great spot for a family day out.

    Backbone State Park

    Backbone State Park is Iowa’s oldest state park, and it offers some of the best hiking trails in the state. The park is home to several hiking trails that wind through the park’s stunning rolling hills, creating a unique hiking experience that’s perfect for adventurers of all ages. The park also boasts more than 200 campsites, making it a great spot for an overnight hiking trip.


    Iowa may not be known for its hiking trails, but as you can see, there are several hidden gems waiting to be explored. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or a beginner, the hiking trails in Iowa offer something for everyone. From stunning caves to towering bluffs and unique art installations, these trails should be on every adventurer’s bucket list. So, pack your bags, lace up your hiking boots, and let Iowa’s natural beauty take your breath away!

    Trail Name Difficulty Length
    Pikes Peak Easy to Moderate 11 mi
    High Trestle Easy to Moderate 25 mi
    Maquoketa Caves Easy to Difficult Varies
    Ledges Easy to Difficult 4 mi
    Backbone Easy to Difficult with steep inclines 21 mi

    Discover the Hidden Gems: Explore the Best Hiking Trails in Iowa!

    Hiking Trails in Iowa – FAQs

    1. What are the best hiking trails to discover hidden gems in Iowa?

    There are several hidden gems in Iowa that are waiting to be explored through hiking trails. Some of the best trails include the Maquoketa Caves State Park Hiking Trail, Pikes Peak State Park Hiking Trail, Effigy Mounds National Monument Trail, and Backbone State Park Hiking Trail.

    2. Can I bring my dog along the hiking trails in Iowa?

    Yes, there are several dog-friendly hiking trails in Iowa. However, it’s recommended that you check the trail’s specific rules and regulations before bringing your dog. Additionally, keep in mind that some trails may require your dog to be on a leash.

    3. Is camping allowed along the hiking trails in Iowa?

    Yes, several trails in Iowa offer camping facilities. Some of the best trails with camping facilities include the Neal Smith Trail, the Lewis and Clark Trail, and the Scarville Hiking Trail. However, it’s important to check the trail rules and regulations before setting up camp.

    4. What is the best season to go hiking?

    Hiking in Iowa can be enjoyed all year round, but different seasons offer different experiences. The best time to go hiking varies depending on the trail’s location and elevation. For example, hiking in northern Iowa is best from late spring to summer, while southern Iowa is best from late summer to fall.

    5. Do I need special gear for hiking in Iowa?

    It’s recommended to wear comfortable hiking shoes with good ankle support and traction. Additionally, bring water, a map or GPS device, and appropriate clothing and gear depending on the trail’s length and difficulty. Don’t forget to bring a first aid kit and insect repellent.

    6. Are there any safety tips I should keep in mind while hiking in Iowa?

    Always inform someone of your hiking plans and expected return time. Stay on the designated trail and be aware of the terrain and weather conditions. Additionally, check for ticks after hiking in wooded areas and avoid hiking alone.

    7. Can I participate in guided hikes for a better experience?

    Yes, Iowa has several guided hiking tours available that can enhance your hiking experience with knowledgeable guides. Some of the guided hikes available include the Iowa State Parks & Recreation guided tours and the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation guided tours.