Picnicking/Shelters Preparation Canyon State Park is an excellent place for a picnic or family cookout. Picnickers can enjoy themselves, while also enjoying views of the dramatic ridges an unique Loess Hills. A shelter is available and can be reserved for a fee by contacting the park manager at Lewis and Clark State Park. Hike-In Camping Nine hike-in camp sites, each with table and fireplace, are provided in the eastern half of the park. Registration for the isolated and secluded sites are obtained by self-registration at the east parking area. Camping Fees are to be paid at the registration area. Trails Several trails wind their way through the rugged Loess Hills, and along the many streams and springs found in the area. These trails will also take you to the hike-in camping sites. A nature study area is located in the eastern area of the park. The 344 acre Preparation Canyon State Park is a remote and lovely area still relatively untouched by humans. The park is located in Iowa's unique Loess Hills and is surrounded by dramatic ridges on the north, south and west. It provides a beautiful backdrop for hikers and family picnics. Picnic tables, a shelter and non-modern toilets are provided. In order to help protect the canyon's natural seclusion and the remaining evidence of its dramatic past, camping is restricted to hike-in camping only at the designated sites. Preparation Canyon State Park lies at the very north end of Loess Hills Pioneer State Forest. Nearby Towns Preparation Canyon State Park is located approximately 5 miles southwest of Moorhead, Iowa and approximately 5 miles north of Pisgah, Iowa. Onawa, Iowa is approximately 20 miles northeast of the park.

I enjoyed this hike. This park is really beautiful, which is the biggest reason for the high rating. There are some signs on the trails, but I found them hard to navigate. I found no map online, and they were out of maps at the entrance, so I had to follow the trail recorded by others on this app. The different loops can definitely be confusing. I also would not rate this as easy—more like moderate to difficult. There were many steep inclines, the trails are not well maintained and hard to make out at some points, and certain areas were extremely wet and muddy.
Side note—photos of this park online feature a trail along the top of this beautiful hilltop, which is what drew me to Preparation Canyon. This loop is all forest and does not include that trail, which I did not know. You have to turn right at the entrance instead of left and follow the signs for the scenic overlook. There is a deck built into the hill that leads down into the trail. I followed the trail for about a mile, not sure how far it actually goes. But I would highly recommend going to the scenic overlook, as it was STUNNING.

I hiked in and stayed one night this weekend. Very happy with the place. Online maps are not entirely accurate for the 8 camp sites. Call their number or grab a map when you pay registration. I love that each spot is secluded from the others and a little ways off the trail. If you are carrying a pack the hills will challenge your legs.

Fun state park with lots of different options to make a longer or shorter loop as desired. Maps were only available at the northwest entrance only, but I'd highly recommend picking one up as all of the different loops can get confusing. It was nice that the grass had been cut recently, so the trails were not overgrown at all. I can't wait to come back when it's warmer to try out the hike-in camping.

Beautiful lichen everywhere. Saw a marbled orb weaver. The trails should definitely not be described as easy though

Friday, November 03, 2017

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Short but steep up and downs, trail not maintained, with tall grasses nearly swallowing my wife up completely.

I'm not sure I'd call this easy. Maybe for a 20 or 30 year old. But it is steep in parts and muddy. I'm 60, in good health and I would call this moderate. Easy is flat, well maintained trails. This is not that. But all in all, we had a good time.

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Trail was well maintained for the most part. Great place for beginner hike-in camping!

Saturday, July 02, 2016

The environment was calm and enjoyable. Although the trails were hard to navigate as they had not been cut clearly.

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Beautiful trail and good scenery.

Great trails! Some very steep, but well maintained. Easy to navigate with a map. Lots of trail markers. Saw deer and a turkey. Definitely will come back!


Saturday, June 15, 2013

Some wicked hills here. Nice short hike for a morning.

1 month ago

Sunday, October 08, 2017

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Sunday, October 05, 2014