By Brad Lane
To really make the most out of an Iowa winter, it’s highly recommended to grab some cross-country skis and enjoy the weather. Spread across the state of Iowa, there are many miles of cross-country ski trails waiting to be explored, ranging from the rolling hills of Decorah to the wooded valleys of Boone. To find some winter fun, go ahead and check out these seven awesome cross-country skiing spots in Iowa.
Some of the best cross-country skiing in Iowa is made possible by the good people at the Cedar Trails Partnership, who help maintain nearly 100 miles of trails in eastern Iowa. The largest of these trails, the Cedar Valley Nature Trail, provides over 50 miles of trail to explore throughout the winter. One of the most acclaimed and sought-after trails however, is the 17-mile Cedar Prairie Loop that showcases some of the best Iowa winter scenery found across the state.
Serving as perhaps the capital of cross-country skiing city in Iowa, the city of Decorah provides much more than just a single trail to explore. Ranging from the routes found at Palisades Park and the Community Prairie to the more secluded Ice Cave and Twin Springs Park tracks, the crown-jewel of the Decorah cross-country ski system is the 11-mile Trout Run Trail. Groomed for both classic and skating styles, this loop is some of the best cross-country skiing in Iowa.
Big Creek State Park is a beautiful place to visit year-round, but the opportunity for cross-country skiing during the winter is particularly excellent. There are many miles of trails to accommodate bicyclists during the summer and snowmobilers and cross-country skiers during the winter. Be sure to take a look at Big Creek Lake when the weather gets cold—it’s truly a sight to see.
While Lake Macbride State Park in Solon is a popular place to visit throughout the year, the winter provides its own fair share of fun activity. Winding throughout and around the massive Lake Macbride, this state park offers groomed and backcountry cross-country skiing, and found around every turn, some of the most beautiful Iowa winter landscapes waiting to be seen.
Yesterday my friends @primalhacker taught me something. When you work out in a blue lit gym it creates scar tissue in muscle. Working out outside does not. Interesting! For any of you that know me personally or those of you that have been following me for sometime, you know that I'm a major outdoor enthusiast. Time outdoors, especially in wide open spaces really contributes a great deal to my happiness. Today I XC skied 4 miles, it was only 12 degrees but I got really hot, for any of you that have done it before you know it can be quite the workout. I agree with Chris and Thaddeus....find something that you enjoy that gets you outside! OUTDOORS OR BUST!!!! ☀️ . . . #optoutside #rewildyourlife #winter #ketogirl #crosscountryskiing #lablife #fitness #fitgirl #nature #getyourassintonature #gooutside #snow #snowbunny #labradorretriever #natureheals #earthmedicine #fatfuled #happiness #naturelover
With over 21 miles of trails to explore throughout the year, Backbone State Park remains as one of Iowa’s most popular parks throughout every season. Cross-country skiers and snowmobilers flock to Backbone come wintertime, but with so much space to explore, many times the only people you’ll see are the ones you’ll run into in the parking lot. Featuring great winter atmosphere, fresh tracks, and always a good workout, see for yourself why cross-country skiing in Backbone State Park is so popular.
Featuring groomed and ungroomed routes spread out between 925 acres, the cross-country ski trails at Pinicon Ridge Park can keep you active all year round. With a wide variety of forested and woodland scenery, Pinicon Ridge Park is the perfect winter playground to glide through all season. While you are there, other fun winter activities are at your disposal, including a great sledding hill and more than one spot to drill a hole for ice fishing.
With proximity to Marion and Cedar Rapids, Squaw Creek County Park is a popular place to visit throughout the year. Spread out over 700 acres, the excitement only increases come winter at Squaw Creek Park, and a majority of the hiking trails receive grooming throughout the winter. A public warming house invites you to start a fire at Squaw Creek Park, and the adjacent sledding hill can also provide a full day of activity.