View Full Version : Hiking around Iowa Cty - suggestions for day hikes maybe an overnighter

12-27-2011, 18:50
I have a friend/client in New Zealand who is going to be visiting the USA this April. He's a hiker and is going to have 3 days to kill in Iowa City, IA and would like to do some hiking. Any recommendations for longish day hikes, maybe an out and back, or an overnighter in the area? He's willing to drive a bit if necessary.

12-27-2011, 19:57
Just some ideas - maybe Map Man will see this post and comment.

If he's willing to drive 2 hours - he should go to Backbone:

Closer, but with less hiking and far more populated (but cool) would be Maquoketa State Park

Also very close is the Coralville Reservoir and Lake MacBride Park -- see maps here:

In Cedar Rapids - very close to Iowa City is Palisades Kepler Park:

Right in Iowa City, I think Hickory Hill might be the best bet. Its been a long time since I've been there:

12-27-2011, 21:44
Thank you! I've emailed him the link to this thread so he can get some ideas. Appreciate it much..

Tennessee Viking
12-27-2011, 22:06
I never really ventured much away from Waterloo/Cedar Falls my year up there. But there is Wythe State Park and the Cedar Lakes Trail Greenway up in Waterloo. The Greenway is Iowa's version of the Creeper.

squirrel bait
12-28-2011, 00:05
There is also Yellow River around Harpers Ferry. Beautiful views of the Mississippi river. Backbone is a wonderful park, make sure you walk the "Backbone", look for Columbines in the rock crevacies. I sure miss Iowa.

map man
12-28-2011, 23:24
The northeast corner of the state (anywhere between 1.5 and 2.5 hours away from Iowa City, depending on the destination) has the most interesting topography -- more like southwest Wisconsin and southeast Minnesota than the rest of Iowa. I would say the most notable of those already mentioned in that corner of the state are Backbone State Park and Yellow River State Forest (perhaps the best spot for semi-remote overnight camping) and right next door to Yellow River State Forest is Effigy Mounds National Monument.

In many ways Iowa has done a better job at becoming bicycle friendly than at being hiker friendly. Many abandoned railway sections have been converted to trails tailored to bicycling. They are a great way to see rural Iowa and sample a friendly Iowa small town or two. If your friend has any interest in renting a bike that would also be an option. Google "Iowa City bike rental." Here's a link identifying the state's bike trails: http://www.iowadot.gov/maps//msp/pdf/bikemappdf.html

12-29-2011, 05:11
Thanks everyone for your suggestions.

It sounds like Backbone is a definite.

As for my second day, I am torn between Maquoketa State Park (caves) and Yellow River State Forest (views of the Mississipi) so will read more.

@map man: I hadn't thought of biking. That could be an interesting change...

12-29-2011, 05:13

Todd Tarbox
01-09-2012, 12:29
Go to Yellow River State Forest and Maqokeda Caves!!!!!!!!! The state forest has some of the best hiking in the state and also cool river towns are close. Also check out the Effigy Mounds. Cool Native American site and also has great views of the Mississippi. The caves are always fun to explore when the are open!!! There is also a reservoir close to iowa city that has a ton of MT biking trails that are also fun to hike around.