Explore the most popular camping trails in Iowa with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

we walked .18 miles & got to a stream that we had to cross with no bridge. we walked back out. total trip .39 miles. not recommended.

hiking
9 days ago

Nice little trail in the state park. Offers great views along the ridge line. The trail is marked easy, but the first third is more moderate with steep decline and incline until you make your way to the ridge. Along the ridge the trail is rugged and extremely grassy. Watch for ticks, we saw several. The back half of the loop is maintained with gravel and sections of cut grass. That part offers benches spaced along the path. We did the hike in July. Will probably be nice in the fall/early winter as well.

Pretty but got to watch out for the roots, rocks, and steep climb on the trails.

hiking
10 days ago

Nice 2 mile loop but not for the faint of heart. It is listed as wheelchair friendly but the only way it would be wheelchair friendly is if your wheelchair were a bulldozer. The beginning of trail is narrow, uneven and very steep down and back up through a ravine which does not give any indication as to what the rest of the trail is like. Very scenic plenty of shaded areas. Looking forward to revisiting in the fall to view the colors.

Beautiful trail. Would have been 5 stars if it was marked better with signs, etc.

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.

It is probably beautiful, but it is apparently closed for construction.

hiking
20 days ago

Great set of trails off the beaten path. If you are looking for a longer trail away from most of the public... you will love this location. Several times I have hiked the 10+ mile trails and never passed a single person.

hiking
25 days ago

Beautiful trail with lots of spots to breakaway from the trail to explore further

off road driving
1 month ago

Drive through some grass trails that I believe were for hiking. Oh well! The lake is dry due to reconstruction.

hiking
1 month ago

As of June 2018, much of the park is under construction.

Bring your water and bug spray! Quick, scenic and enjoyable short hike.

hiking
1 month ago

This trail is a little hard to follow in a few locations. Just remember, the trail essentially goes around the lake, so if you don't know which way to go, it turns out that taking the option nearest the lake is usually (but not always) going to be the correct way. I got on the wrong trail 2 times during my hike, but within 10 minutes realized I wasn't on the correct trail so quickly backtracked and was okay. Its not that the trail is hard to follow, its that at some intersections there simply are no signs so you don't know which trail to take.

The trail itself is so-so. I liked it because it is hard to find a (hiking) trail longer than, say, 7 miles, in Iowa. The trail itself is just okay in my opinion. My dog got a bloody paw by the end of the hike. Nearly the entire trail is gravel, I think that was why it was tough on her paws. This trail is shared with equestrians, which seems to be very popular at this location judging by the many horses I saw at the part where you need to walk through the equestrian campground. On trail, however, I only saw 5 horses, 1 group of 3 and 1 couple. The vast majority of this hiking trail I was alone, except when I came across areas near parking lots, where many fisherman can be found.

Although this is a loop around the lake, you actually do not see the lake very often. That was okay by me, as it was jam packed with fishing boats anyhow. I did enjoy the hike, but nothing all that special really popped out. I will absolutely be going back to explore some of the other hiking trails at Brushy Creek, and maybe redo this hike as well.

Note: the maps from the Recreation Area itself refers to this trail as the Lake Trail. However, while on the trails, this name is only used in the southern portion south of the dam. For the rest of the trail, the labels/directionals on the trail refer to it as the "All Weather Trail"

Tick Count: 7 on the dog, 3 on me... that was found

Very pretty, make sure you get down and dirty into the caves and find all the small nooks and crannies. Might be hard for someone with asthma or someone who can’t climb a lot of stairs/rocks. Wear shoes that you can get wet but still have traction. Bring flashlights.

2 months ago

This hike out in the random no-where caught me off guard to say the least. I figured it would just be an "alright" hike to stretch my legs after a 3 hour drive to the trailhead. Boy was I pleasantly surprised! Just the right length and had some views over the Midwest that I wasn't expecting. I make sure to mention this little gem to my friends going thru the area.

Perfect weather and no loose dogs today.

2 months ago

Great trail for a family hike.

Had a great time doing this with my teen daughter and her friend in early-early spring. We literally didn't see another person the entire time we were in the forest. The western part of this loop is fantastic - it feels wild, it's not super easy, the terrain is somewhat rugged. I think they could do a better job of keep the trail off roads on the eastern and northern parts though, as it ruins the ambience to walk along a road. Still, this was better than we expected, and it was fun to get in some good snow-free backpacking while Minnesota is still covered in snow and ice.

We stayed at the Brown's Hollow camp, which was quite a lot less primitive than I expected, given that it's a filter and cathole camp area - there are big, proper fire grates and benches in predefined camping areas. Given the iffy weather, that was an unexpected perk. I'd certainly do this again.

Great trail by Iowa’s standards! Compared to Colorado yah no

hiking
3 months ago

if your at backbone go ahead and hit this trail. great views and easy 40 min hike

I used to come fishing here quite a bit.. sad to see the lake is gone. There are some other smaller ponds around the trails I noticed. In terms of hiking, the trails are pretty and variable, though can be tricky to spot at times off the gravel paths / roadways.

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.

Today was snowy but above freezing. The trail was a good amount of hills and tree cover. It blocked the wind and made for an enjoyable hike. Since we could here hunters toward the eastern end of the trail, we only did the western half. We will definitely go back again.

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.

Great trail! Scenery was nice with winding paths, bridges, rock formations and the large body of water visible throughout most of the trail. Looking forward to hiking this trail again! Great trail for Hawkeyes to visit when they need a few hours of relaxation!

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

One of the best trails for trail running with a canine companion - trails are wide enough for both of us and we love the trees and lookout points over the water. So pretty!

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