Yellow River Paint Creek Loop Trail

EASY 11 reviews

Yellow River Paint Creek Loop Trail is a 6.8 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Harpers Ferry, Iowa that features a great forest setting and is good for all skill levels. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Horses are also able to use this trail.

DISTANCE
6.8 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
780 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Loop

backpacking

birding

camping

hiking

mountain biking

trail running

walking

horseback riding

forest

views

There are over 25 miles of marked & maintained trails in the Paint Creek Unit alone. There is no charge or registration required for the use of backpack trail facilities. There are two camp areas along the trail which are not accessible by vehicles so you can really get away from it all.

hiking
2 months ago

Love coming out here during the summer. This is probably one of my favorite places to camp close to Madison and I love the trails. When your up on the bluffs you have great views of the campsite and creek below. The "bluff trail" being my favorite as you can find delicious chanterelles up there (and angry wasps too haha) if you know what your looking for... They pop up all long the trail. Just save some for me please! Speaking of, this area is a hot bed for fungi hunters, found a nice chicken of the woods and a few other random edibles while out. Lots of good memories out here with my dog and my girlfriend hiking the bluffs.

hiking
8 months ago

Had a great weekend at yellow river. We hiked about 15 mi Saturday and only saw one other person out trail running the whole time and the weather was fantastic. We did see a few horse riders. The trails are very easy most are set up for horses. The Bluff view trail had gret views of the river and big paint camp ground. There was alot of water in the streams we forded the river twice in almost knee deep fast moving water which was fun. Camp ground was nice and well kept. Primitive toilets and no running water, not a problem for us but thought other might want to know.

hiking
9 months ago

Overall a nice trail with a lot of shade, which is well appreciated over the summer. The greenery was also absolutely beautiful. Just wish there was a little more water in some of the smaller streams. Surprisingly, for a holiday weekend, there were very few people on the trails (averaged about one group every hour out hiking). There were a lot of people camping at the Big Paint Campground though.
Like the rest of this state, this trail was overall very flat, other than the Heffern's Hill Loop which went all the way up without a vista or anything other than the trail ahead of us. We went all the way up to go all the way back down.
The only downside was unexpectedly wading through the Paint Creek when we were on the Paint Creek Trail. Some equestrians ahead of us forded the waters. We were a little worse for wear when we came across the knee-high waters without a bridge or any easy way to cross the 6-foot plus gap of water. There is a way to go around this if you go up a little ways, but this will still likely involve some sketchy traversing and likely getting a little wet or muddy.

hiking
11 months ago

11 months ago

backpacking
11 months ago

This is a fun park with many trails and very nice backpacking campsites. Many of the trails are shared with hikers (we saw only a few on a busy weekend), mountain bikers (we didn't see any), and horses (there were many, and therefore many pounds of horse waste on the trails). We hiked a total of about 16 miles over two days. The elevation changes are among the most you will find in Iowa.

The campsites are all well maintained. If you plan to filter water, however, Heffern's Hill is you only real choice.

scenic driving
Tuesday, March 22, 2016

I can't really rate this because I'm not sure what happened. I followed directions from on star and was suddenly on a dirt road in the forest (old junction road into fire tower road). I would go through Harper's ferry if I were you (unless you have high clearance and 4x4. (I was in a Cadillac and thank goodness it was all wheel drive! I was told later this is very primitive camping and hiking. I will be going back this summer (just not driving through in my Cadillac, lol! Curse you on star!) there was a guy behind me in a mini van and when we made it through my son actually got out and high fived him! It's definently a story we will have forever. I will be back to hike and more prepared. From what I seen this looks more like a few days of hiking to really get the experience.

hiking
Wednesday, September 23, 2015

hiking
Saturday, May 23, 2015

hiking
Tuesday, May 28, 2013

hiking
Tuesday, August 21, 2012

First time back in a long time and enjoyed every minute of it! We backpacked out and setup camp in John Schultz and then the following day did a number of trails as we investigated the other sites and ended up at Heffern's Hill. The scenery was great and the trails were pretty well maintained. The campsites were very well maintained and wood had been delivered to many of them. We will definitely be heading back a couple of times this fall as it was a great trip. One note - water is a bit scarce at the campsites so plan to bring plenty or make a trip to HQ for water.