5 Awesome Trail Running Spots in Iowa

By Brad Lane

5 Awesome Trail Running Spots in Iowa

While running is a great exercise, as you circle the block for the umpteenth time, the monotony of the sport may get to you. To spice things up a bit in your running routine, and to get those legs moving towards beautiful landscapes, a good dose of trail running can do the spirit right. If you happen to be in Iowa, there is no lack of options for great trail running spots. Whether you want to stride alongside some lakes or through a forest, these five awesome trail running spots in Iowa will really get you moving.

1. Lake Macbride State Park

Located adjacent to the Coralville Lake in eastern Iowa, Lake Macbride State Park provides plenty of trails to explore and see the water. Trail runners at Lake Macbride can opt for beach to dam runs, jogs along the osprey trail or exploring the most-recommended route, the north shore trail which parallels the large lake for nearly five miles. Visitors to Lake Macbride can stay for the day, or utilize the two campgrounds located within the park boundaries to get a multi-day trail running adventure in. 

2. Loess Hills State Forest

The lush Loess Hills of western Iowa are one of the state’s most precious landscapes. Comprised of beautiful rolling hills and winding trails, the Loess Hills State Forest provides plenty of recreational activities throughout the bountiful environment. Trail runners and backpackers will want to head over to Preparation Canyon State Park within the Loess Hills State Forest, where miles of trails and backpack sites are theirs to explore. 

3. Ewing Park

Located just south of Des Moines, the city-owned Ewing Park provides many adventures to enjoy. Beyond the professional-level 18-hole disc golf course, and coinciding with the single track mountain biking trails, Ewing hosts some fun and challenging trail running circuits. There are a number of trails that runners can follow when visiting Ewing Park, and they all wind through the dense forest that comprises this municipal space. Truly ambitious runners can connect them all and figure out in no time that Ewing Park provides some trails worth coming back to.  

4. Banner Lakes at Summerset State Park

Just six miles south of Des Moines, Banner Lakes at Summerset State Park provides a tranquil setting to lose yourself not far from the city. Surrounding the lakes, trail runners can find over five miles of pathways to follow. While all provide a good track and better scenery, a recommended route to check out is the Coal Miner’s Daughter Trail. Whichever way you head at Banner Lakes, you’ll be pleasantly inspired by the Iowa landscape. 

5. Geode State Park

Named after Iowa’s state rock, Geode State Park is one of the most popular natural spaces in the southeastern part of the state. In the middle of all the action at Geode State Park, including finding an elusive geode or two, is the Geode Lake which features great beaches to swim at, plenty of fish to catch, and a scenic trail that encircles the entire thing. For those trail runners out there looking for a great spot to stretch the legs, the 6.5-mile lake trail at Geode State Park should be on the top of your list. 

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