Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Field Trip: Ledges State Park

So today's post isn't about making things, but I went to another state park over the weekend and I thought I should share the photos since it was quite the lovely spot. Plus, I can't help it, I'm still so excited about having a camera that takes pictures that aren't blurry!

The park was called Ledges State Park and it was about 45 minutes away, near Ames, which is where Iowa State is located. A friend mentioned it to me as being a place that had actual hiking trails (rather than the paved multi-use trails that are so popular around here, and come in handy for biking) so I figured it would be a great way to spend part of my Sunday.

You should know that I love hiking. Love it. I'd do it most days if I could and for hours on the weekend. But, it seems, Iowa doesn't feel the same way as I've yet to find a place where I can walk in the woods for even just an hour without winding up back where I started (which is a parking lot area filled with people grilling meat—which is a perfectly acceptable summertime activity, but mildly frustrating when I'm trying to walk away from populated areas).

I've decided to remain hopeful, however, because as you can see the possibility exists. I did enjoy the scenery and that the spot was quite wooded. And I liked seeing this area of native grasses and flowers. And taking pictures of it.

And this stream that was a popular place for kayaks and fishing.

Which brings me to my request. If any of you Iowans know a place that has/is:
1. unpaved hiking/walking trails that are, say, at least 4 miles long
2. in an undeveloped area, such as in a preserve or state park
3. not such the hot spot for motorcycles
4. within two hours from Des Moines

I'm remaining hopeful that such a place exists. I know this state is nearly completely planted with corn and soybeans, but all I need is one spot—just one!—to walk on a dirt trail in the woods and I'll be a happy girl. And at the end of the day if this doesn't exist here, well this just means two things: I will start going camping regularly in neighboring states and I will become much better friends with my bike. Oh and I'll remain a fervent fan of walks in Waterworks Park. Not such a horrible alternative (I say reassuringly to myself, as I force myself to look on the bright side!).


  1. Wow, I've been a transplant for 4 years and I just heard about Ledges State Park two weeks ago. Its on the list of places, but good on you!

    I don't have any good suggestions for other hikings spots--we usually go in Northeast Iowa (where my husband is from) which is quite hilly.

  2. Do you know about Loess Hills in western Iowa? I've never been but my husband got lost hiking there one summer when he was living alone in western Iowa. I'm not sure how long the trails are but he accidentally wandered off-trail and was lost enough to be fairly freaked out, so they can't be that short...Either way, it's supposed to be seriously beautiful.

  3. Hi Katie-
    Another reader emailed me with information about Loess Hills, and sent me a handy google map with exactly where she likes to go. And suggested that I bring a park map and a compass to avoid getting lost. Glad to hear this place has such a good reputation and that your husband found his way out!


    Not sure exactly how long the trails are and have not been there but from friends pictures you have and the website may be what you need!