Wonderful Fall: Hiking And Biking In Iowa

September 26, 2017

Iowa is an amazing state with a generous landscape and heart-throbbing vistas you cannot miss. And it is all even more beautiful in the autumn. So, if you want to enjoy your fall in the great outdoors, there is nothing like exploring Iowa’s trails for a hiking adventure of your life!

The Bear River Recreation Trail

This is out first suggestion, because it has it all from enticing riverside landscapes to picturesque countryside vistas with plenty of farms, limestone cliffs, and wooded forests. You can either go on a day’s hike or walk, or you can ride your bike. You will start in the northwest part of the city of Preston, and follow the Cooper Creek Trail at first, until the conjunction with the Bear River Trail. You will bike along a deserted railway, however you can stop anytime you want to either for a picnic or for a quick fishing adventure.

Bill Riley Trail

This 2.7 miles trail is great for taking your kids along to experience the rich fall in our enchanting state. But do not forget to get a good toddler bike helmet, although this is a rather safe trail that starts at Walnut Creek Trail and ends up near Meredith Trail, following only an asphalt road.

The whole trail is very quiet and easy to navigate, and you will enjoy a rustic path with magnificent views. You will take the same course as Walnut Creek and you will cross through the tranquil Ashworth Park with its quaint paths. You can stop in the Park for a picnic or for your little ones to enjoy the local playground, then cross a unique trestle bridge to get on the other side of the Raccoon River.

Wabash Trace Nature Trail

This is a long bike trail that is for the more advanced cyclists out there. You will cross four different counties on this 62 mile’s ride, starting at Iowa West Foundation Trailhead Park. You will generally bike wheels on good roads made from asphalt and concrete, but this rail-trail road will take you through crushed stone paths too.

You will end up at the north border with Missouri and there are plenty of activities you can do on this journey, so you can take your time. You can try your hand at fishing or enjoy a quiet afternoon horseback riding. And if you like the sceneries and are ready to return during winter, you can also do some cross-country skiing.

Across woodlands and farmlands, prairies and corrugated landscapes, scenic cities with great opportunities for sightseeing, this is definitely a complete and complex biking trip.

Effigy Mounds

Situated in the northeast part of Iowa, this is a gentle climb with amazing views. You will definitely need a good pair of hiking boots, especially if you are planning to go all the way up to Hanging Rock. The whole trip will take you the whole day since it is 7 miles total, but it is definitely worth it.

You can watch a short documentary movie before the climb at the Ranger’s office, so you are better able to identify the mounds. The trail offers amazing views of the Mississippi River and its limestone bluffs and this is a particularly tranquil location.

There are also steep places, depending on the mounds you will hike to. Eagle Rock and Fire Point offer outstanding vistas and you will have plenty of places to sit back and enjoy these vistas.

Preparation State Park

Located in the Loess Hills State Forest Loops, this park has a lot of hiking trails you can try. The loess landscape offered is incredible, offering a portal through the past when this wonderful landscape was formed. There are multiple activities you can try here too, including having a nice picnic or doing some cross-country skiing just like on Wabash Trail.

The Loess Hills have abrupt ridges and different water sources, though the whole area is prone to wildfires. Preparation State Park has many picnic shelters to rest from hiking on all those steep slopes, with lagoons and marshy terrains, especially during spring and autumn.

Point Ann Trail

Located in the Pikes Peak State Park, which itself is very near the Effigy Mounds National Monument, you willl see unique views of the Mississippi River, surrounded by imposing bluffs. You can take your pick at different other trails apart from the Point Ann Trail, but we love this particular path because it reaches a 500 feet high bluff.

You have plenty of picnicking places here too, where you can enjoy your meal while breathing in the breathtaking scenarios. The picnic spots are very bucolic, with gazebo-like stone shelters, playgrounds, and even shower buildings. There are also camping facilities here if you want to stop for the night before you start off on a different trail.

With plenty of wooded bluffs, limestone walls, springs, and valleys, this area abounds in Native American history.

Trout Run Trail

This trail walks right along the Decorah Trout Hatchery, hence its name. You will hike for 11 miles around Decorah, crossing five different trout streams, starting your journey near the Upper Iowa River. So, you can take a few moments and breathe in the scenery on the river banks and maybe even return later for some kayaking or trout fishing.

The trail runs very close to Decorah, but it is hidden in a wooded landscape. You can stop anytime you want to and enjoy a picnic or do some bird watching. The trail is very easy, thus it is a good idea to take your kids along, they will enjoy feeding the trout at the local hatcheries. And the renowned Decorah Eagle’s nest is definitely something you cannot miss here.

Where Will You Go?

The amazing Iowa has it all and we have taken you on a journey through its most interesting paths. You will be able to travel back to a Native American past or enjoy more modern accomplishments traveling on deserted railways. But the landscape is always gorgeous, especially when the forests become tinged with red, yellow, and brown, and the mild autumn sun caresses its secluded paths. So, which of these trails caught your interest? Leave us a comment below.


Rebecca lives in USA, but loves hiking all over the world. Her favorite is Everest Base Camp Trek in Nepal. It usually takes 16 days, but she likes to slow down, enjoy mountains, company of other adventurers, and take more pictures, so it took her 28 days last time. Another of her passion is the ocean, so all short and long hikes along the ocean shore bring a lot of joy. She also writes for HikingMastery.com.

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Andi Perullo de Ledesma

I am Andi Perullo de Ledesma, a Chinese Medicine Doctor and Travel Photojournalist in Charlotte, NC. I am also wife to Lucas and mother to Joaquín. Follow us as we explore life and the world one beautiful adventure at a time.

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