7 Best Cross-Country Skiing Spots in Iowa

By Brad Lane

7 Best Cross-Country Skiing Spots in Iowa

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. 

1. Cedar Prairie Loop, Cedar Falls, IA

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. 

2. Decorah Cross-Country Ski Trails, Decorah, IA

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.

3. Big Creek State Park, Polk City, IA

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. 

5. Backbone State Park, Dundee, IA

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. 

First adventure at Backbone State Park was a success!

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6. Pinicon Ridge Park, Central City, IA

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. 

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7. Squaw Creek Park, Marion, IA

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. 

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