Preparation Canyon State Park Loop is a 2.8 mile lightly trafficked loop trail located near Onawa, Iowa that features a river and is good for all skill levels. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, and camping and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

DISTANCE
2.8 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
669 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Loop

dogs on leash

kid friendly

camping

hiking

walking

river

wild flowers

wildlife

muddy

You have to drive around to the back of the park to get to the parking for the hike in campsites. There are fire pits and a picnic table at each of the campsites. There is a small creek that winds through the sites but no other water source near the campsites. The sites are further apart so even when there are other sites occupied you don't see them. This is one of my favorite camping spots near Omaha.

hiking
5 months ago

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.

10 months ago

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.

hiking
Tuesday, November 28, 2017

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.

hiking
Wednesday, November 15, 2017

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

hiking
Friday, November 03, 2017

hiking
Saturday, August 12, 2017

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

Friday, July 14, 2017

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!

hiking
Saturday, July 02, 2016

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

hiking
Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Beautiful trail and good scenery.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

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!

Thursday, July 02, 2015

Amazing!

hiking
Saturday, June 15, 2013

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

recorded PCSP

hiking
2 months ago

hiking
3 months ago

hiking
4 months ago

4 months ago

4 months ago

hiking
6 months ago

hiking
9 months ago

hiking
9 months ago

hiking
Sunday, December 10, 2017

hiking
Sunday, October 08, 2017

hiking
Monday, May 29, 2017

Thursday, April 13, 2017

hiking
Tuesday, March 28, 2017

recorded Preparation Canyon State Park

hiking
Saturday, October 29, 2016

birding
Tuesday, June 23, 2015

hiking
Sunday, October 05, 2014

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