Explore the most popular kid friendly 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.

hiking
14 hours ago

Very family friendly and beautiful! We plan to come back when we have more time to see more of the park.

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.

Went right at the fork and that was definitely smart. Great trail, lower portion should be saved for the return. Don't fall and crack your phone screen.

Great trail that has every kind of trail experience you want in Iowa. lots of up and down so pace yourself and start at the campground if you're bringing kids. the full trail will tucker them out quickly.

Gentle stroll through the rolling woods of southern Iowa. Practically all ages could take this trail and have a nice time. Plenty of spots to stop and take in nature. A couple playgrounds along the four-foot path. Perfect trail for anyone staying at the campground who wants to go for a swim or go fishing on the lake. Meant to record with All Trails running but paused the app while stopping for a drink of water and forgot to turn it back on. OOPS!

hiking
8 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.

hiking
9 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.

I love walking this trail. The trail is almost completely shaded. It is easy to get my workout. There are plenty of exits so if the whole loop is too much just take what you want.

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.

Great run off trails good views of DSM and West Des Moines from the Dam, just wish it was a loop. Highway miles at the end to complete.

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

road biking
15 days ago

paddle sports
16 days ago

Water skied on this lake years ago. Pleasant lake that used to be a bend on the Missouri river.

walking
21 days ago

Beautiful prairies, gets noisy with the Interstate being so close.

road biking
21 days ago

good trail paved surface few small hills.

hiking
24 days ago

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

mountain biking
1 month ago

Nice trail. A few small hills. Its an older trail so a bit bumpy in places.

been here several times, always beautiful views and opportunities to see wildlife.

Hitchcock is beautiful! There are some amazing views of the Loess Hills and Missouri River Valley if you’re willing to climb. There are lots of trail markers so it’s easy to navigate as well. Hike can be easy or challenging depending on which trail you take. The map has the trails labelled by difficulty which was nice. Overall, a gorgeous scenic hike, good for all skill levels.

birding
1 month ago

Had a terrific day at WCDSP. We saw one Kentucky warbler and heard several more long the creek. We saw a small group lf cerulean warblers at the north parking lot. This is a wonderful place.

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

Awesome trails for everyone.

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.

Im recently looking for hiking trails in the area, and while this one is great, Ive found the mountain bike trails that are seemingly unmapped through the park to be much longer and better. They offer great views too, just dont get lost and keep an eye out for bikes coming through!

This is quite the popular lake, busy with partiers and boaters/fisherman. I started the trail in the primary parking lot going clockwise around the lake. I saw maybe like 20 people during my hike. The trail itself is very nice. But then I got around almost to the end and you come across the campgrounds. Where to go then? I didn't really like trudging through a busy campground very much. If I were to do this again, I'd do an almost full loop, turn around and retrace the other direction.

road biking
2 months ago

Trail is paved around the lake! We enjoyed the curves and rolling hills this trail had to offer. Beautiful scenery and alot of wildlife!

nice trail

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