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one of my favorite hikes in nebraska. decent elevation gains when trying to prepare for harder hikes abroad. lots of mosquitos in the summer months. i made a video hiking this trail a few years ago to preview it. check it out here https://youtu.be/cWs-EiGKvys

trail running
14 days ago

Great trail to run with all different types of terrain and a few moderate hills.

hiking
15 days ago

Very pretty moderate hike. Icicles hanging from the caverns made for a beautiful views. Worth doing in the winter - fewer leaves means better views of the bluffs.

Love it here. So much to do. Take your time and enjoy all of it!

hiking
29 days ago

I did a solo hike of the trail in August and it kicked my butt. I am a moderately experienced BWCA paddler but had never done a hiking trip let alone a solo trip. However, I did a ton of research and felt quite prepared. It was very reassuring to read Christine's review below. Everything Christine said echoes how I felt. I planned on a 3 night stay hoping to stay on Hustler and Pageant Lake. This hike completely broke me down. I also got lost at the same point she turned around but luckily found the trail after searching for 30 min..it was so easy, how could you not find it?? ;) Anywho, by the time I got to Shell lake I could barely move. I continued past the first site along the trail on the western shores because it felt like such an unwelcoming site - essentially a huge rock slab with no shade. I ended up bushwhacking my way to the NE site below Little Shell. It was a decent site but faced the bay and could not see the sunset. This only worsened my low morale. I spent the night and booked it out of there right away the next morning. I didn't have any desire to continue on this overgrown trail. I think I'll stick to paddling or trying this later in the season when the leaves have fallen.

Do your research before doing this hike and purchase All Trails Pro version. It saved my butt and honestly was the only way to get through some areas. Check out my page if you want to see my path - it varied a bit from what's posted here. Cheers and happy hiking!

This is a great hike. Lots of different canyons to check out and see. The trail it’s self is easy to follow and there is a map at every intersection. Get ready to walk up stairs. But the views are worth the walk. Go out and enjoy this trail.

hiking
3 months ago

Great trail

Best views on the lake and gorgeous views of the Temperance river as well. A family favorite for years.

Beautiful park, but could use some better signage to direct visitors to the various canyons and bluffs.

Pro tip: St. Louis Canyon has the best waterfall. The actual starved rock is a little anticlimactic.

I generally do the short hike from the trail head this is the first time I hiked from the Temperance river trailhead and LOVED IT. The first 3 miles of this hike are easy and the last half mile is moderate to difficult. I loved the amazing views of the Temperance River. There are lots of short excursion trails by the river where you can get better views. The last part of the hike around Carlton Peak is a bit irregular and a more challenging. Great views from the summit and Ted Tofte overlook.

A great place for a day hike.

Great trail, reminded me of Cadillac Mountain in Acadia, great views throughout!

Loved this hike! Trekking poles very helpful with the irregular terrain.

We started at Lake County Road 301 which added about 2 miles for 16.2 miles round trip. The hike is awesome! The bridge is out at Encampment River but was easily crossed. Be prepared for a TON of mud right now! It was messy but that only added to the fun!

hiking
3 months ago

Not bad for Nebraska. Some decent inclines, decent views of the river, and trail is in good condition. Take bug spray!

trail running
3 months ago

Hard to find trails like this in Iowa. Beautifully maintained, low traffic, and decent elevation.

We had a fantastic time last October. Had to cut it down to one night since there was more snow than we were expecting and the ground was not yet frozen.

hiking
4 months ago

A wonderful trail. Glad to have the All Trails map, because of multiple off-shoot trails. Very serene.

hiking
4 months ago

The drive from Iowa City was quick and easy to find! The trails were just enough of a challenge to feel active but enjoy a relaxed time in nature as well! Signs letting you know where trail heads were from the road would be helpful but all in all it was even better than we expected! We will be back!

Very large and clean visitors center with decent bathrooms and cool T-shirt’s. The separate parking areas further down the trail have porta-potties. Very stunning views worth the hike, but very popular, so heavily trafficked. I’d recommend going earlier to avoid the crowds. The campground has mediocre reviews but I loved it. We showed up in the rain at night and had people offer to help us set up tent. No one partied late it was quiet by 10:00 pm. Campground has restrooms and showers, food shop, pit toilets and water pumps. Shaded, part shade and full sun areas. Each spot has its own pull in with power. The trails were well groomed and marked. A bit of trash...people need to learn to pick up after themselves...good mix of flat, ups and downs, bridges and stairs

hiking
4 months ago

Two friends and I attempted to do the Sioux Hustler Trail this summer, July 29-Aug 1. Two of us are very experienced backpackers, having done other trails in the BWCA, several trips on Isle Royale, the Superior Hiking Trail, and parts of the Appalachian trail. The third member of our group is a BWCA frequent flier, but hasn't done much backpacking. The Sioux Hustler Trail turned out to be one of the worst experiences of our lives.

We met at the trailhead around noon, got all our gear situated, intending to spend 3 nights on the trail, and set out on the path. The trail was severely over grown. After about a half mile, the trail takes a 90 degree left turn, but we missed that and continued on what we THOUGHT was the trail for almost 3/4 of a mile until it turned into nothing. We finally got out our GPS to consult and realized we were more than a half mile off trail. We stamped back to the trail and after an hour wasted, continued on.

After about a mile, the trail opens up to what looks like a horrible burn/tornado/beaver mess. Trees down EVERYWHERE, rocks EVERYWHERE, no trail to be seen. After a few minutes we realized that there were some faded red and orange flags on a few trees and started following them. I want to be clear that this was not easy. We would struggled our way hundreds of yards across boulders and downed trees to get to a red flag and then spend 20 minutes looking for the next flag, and repeat repeat repeat for like 2 hours until we finally emerged on the other side and back onto the "trail."

We suffered on in silence for like another 2 hours through the buggiest hike of my life. I usually am not bothered by mosquitos, but on this hike I was slathered in Sawyer Picardin and DEET and still had thousands of bites. The backs of my upper arms were bitten so many times that the bites merged together into swollen masses on the whole backs of my arms.

Finally, we came to this bridge over a small creek that was clearly marked with an arrow like, "you should cross here." Immediately after crossing the creek, the trail disappeared into nothing. Seriously, the three of us tramped around in every direction for more than hour and never found anything resembling a trail. This wasn't even to the intersection yet. We had suffered through about 4 miles in more than 5 hours and had completely lost the trail. We were all miserable and demoralized and had no desire to continue on this horrible trail for 3 more days. We decided if we high tailed it out of there, we could get back to our cars before sunset.

We sprinted as fast as one can sprint with backpacks on...through the worst trail of my life. So it was still really slow going. Made it out after about 3 hours. My legs looked like I had gone through a wood chipper. We all had tears and holes in our clothes and were bleeding from several locations each. We had all been bitten more than ever in our lives. The trail completely broke my spirit for backpacking. It had been a dream of mine to one day hike the AT or PCT and after this demoralizing day I never wanted to look at a backpack again.

It has been more than a month now and my legs are finally starting to look normal. While I do want to go on more backpacking trips in my life, I think I will steer clear of the BWCA again unless it's in a canoe. The Sioux Hustler trail, at least during mid summer, is, in my opinion, completely impassable. I have read all the other reviews on here and I have no clue how anyone could ever describe this trail as "excellent" or "easy to follow." How are we even talking about the same trail?? Do not attempt the Sioux Hustler Trail unless you enjoy being lost in the wilderness while being eaten alive.

One of the best spots right outside the QC! We come here a few times a year!

Breathtaking to start the trail off right by the river- the falls were unexpected and gorgeous! If you’re going all the way up to the peak be ready for a steep climb- not for the faint of heart with the flat terrain us Minnesotans are used to!

Everything is well marked, the sights are incredible, and it’s just the right amount of challenge for beginners to give it a shot. Today was a Wednesday. Got to the park at 8:45 am and had the trail to myself for the first half. By the time I got within a half mile of the visitors center (11:30) the place was getting crowded. Get there early if you can!

Did this and a little farther. Good views of the cascades. Went down in and hiked along the river as well.

I’ve trod this path many times. In my twenties lugging climbing gear and a sleeping sack to spend weekends at Carlton peak, climbing and exploring, the woods, the rock and myself. As a grown up, sharing the path with my wife, on the weekend of our engagement and later still, having traded climbing gear for children, with my daughters, showing them the beauty of the shore. This is a wonderful trail filled with memories both epic and fond. Take some time to make your own here.

walking
5 months ago

We always love doing this trail! the hills can be a bit of a challenge. I always need bug spray here. mostly for knats.

I absolutely love hiking here, but the people are absolute slobs. I’ve been going here since I was a kid and I brought my kids there yesterday and they were quite upset about the MASSIVE amount of garbage everywhere. They need to implement some serious litter prevention. Ban all disposable water bottles being the first, I’ve never seen so much trash at a park like this. It’s depressing.

I was pleasantly surprised with Starved Rock. It is awesome that all of the trails connect and you can decide what paths to take and loop all over. The canyons were sweet and picturesque.
It was an absolute zoo when we finished at 11am. Totally nuts. Would recommend getting there as early as possible to avoid crowds. We got there at 8am.
Do go hike, it's the best the area has to offer.

The best hiking experience within an hour of the Quad Cities. I agree with the consensus of others that the signage needs work. The good news is that none of the little spur trails are terribly time consuming. The whole trail system can be easily enjoyed in a leisurely morning.

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