Hiking in Hitchcock Nature Preserve | September 2020
The day after hiking in Platte River State Park was the perfect sunny and warm September day, so we drove to Iowa to go for a hike in the Loess Hills. Today’s destination was Hitchcock Nature Preserve, a park located North of the small town of Crescent, Iowa that offers hiking and camping and is dedicated to preserving the prairie. We paid the $3 admission fee, then parked near the visitor’s center and our trailhead. We first went to check out the observation tower — the top level was closed, but we were able to walk up to the second-to-last landing. Then we began our 4 mile loop hike through the park.
We started by heading South on Badger Ridge because we knew it would offer views, and it surely didn’t disappoint. We enjoyed unobstructed views to the East on the majority of this stretch of trail. The elevation change was minimal for almost a mile, until we came across the Hidden Valley and Blazing Star trail intersection, then we started going downhill.
We hiked down into a wooded valley and then continued on the Wildwoods Trail. One highlight as we were walking through the woods was when we came across another hiker who called our attention to a large flowering bush where there was a charm of hummingbirds — they were everywhere, hopping from flower to flower!
After about 2 miles, the trail went steeply back up to near where we had started. From here it was our intention to hike to the boardwalk on Hawk Ridge in the most direct manner. However, Charlotte insisted that we must take the scenic route, so we gave in to our very persistent puppy’s demands. This added an extra mile to our hike overall. We took the Fox Run Ridge to the Hohneke Trail to Hawk Ridge — I know these names don’t mean anything to you if you’ve never visited, so if you’re interested you can just see what I mean on our AllTrails recording here, or better yet check out the official trail map and plan your own trip!
We enjoyed more views along Fox Run Ridge, and then spotted some more wildlife in the woods. We finally reached the boardwalk, then made our way back to the car. By the end of our hike, we had a very tired puppy (she had no one to blame but herself for that) but were very satisfied with this hike. We hope to return many more times and see this park through the different seasons and hike all the other trails.
We attempted a letterbox on our way back, then just so happened to come across a Krispy Kreme in Council Bluffs while driving back — how could we resist? Also, they offered a doggy donut to Charlotte, and it turns out she’s also a fan.