Iowa Trails

The Best Day Hikes in America: Loess Hills Loop

Sylvan Runkel State Preserve, Iowa

Just east of the Missouri River, steep bluffs preserve the unique union of forest and prairie that used to cover much of the Midwest. Check it out on this 12-mile loop, especially attractive for birders: Migratory cuckoos, whippoorwills, vireos, warblers, tanagers, and orioles all flit from the oaks and hickories every summer. Begin from the trailhead on 205th Street in the adjoining Loess Hills Wildlife Management Area and go north on the preserve’s only trail.

Distance 12 miles (loop) Trailhead 42.0627781, -95.972517 Drive time 2:22 from Des Moines Season May to October Contact