Pikes Peak State Park – Iowa
While we were spending time in Southwestern Wisconsin, we also took some time to explore a little bit of Iowa on the other side of the Mississippi. Although we only spent an afternoon there, it didn’t take us very long to see why it would be worth spending more time in the area.
Hiking – There is a good variety of hiking paths in the park. Some are even paved and have gorgeous views overlooking the Mississippi River. There are also various mounds that can be seen along the paths. Their locations are marked on the parks map.
Biking – There is not a whole lot of biking allowed on the trails in the park, however if you’re really looking for a bike trip, check out the Northeast Iowa Bike Route. This is a 130 mile trail that goes along county roads and connects three state parks in Iowa. Pikes Peak is at one end.
Overlooks – Just down from parking and the concession stand Pikes Peak has one of the most amazing views around. The gorgeous view (see photo above, which is only just a part of everything you can see from there) is enhanced with a large overlook platform and a plaque that gives some natural history about the area. There is a play area and picnic spot close by as well. There are other overlooks throughout the park, but this main one is a must-see.
Camping – There are 77 sites available at the park. Most of them are electric sites and about half of them are reservable. The layout is mostly an open field concept with some trees for shade. There isn’t much privacy between sites. Most of the sites accomodated RVs (and there were a lot of them there) but there were also a few good grassy sites for tents, mainly sites 21-25. There is a showering facility and firewood for sale on site. A concession stand that sells supplies is also in the park not far from the campsites.
The Surrounding Area
Effigy Mounds National Monument – A short drive along the river to the north of the park will take you to this national monument. We did not have the time to explore it, but next time we get back to the area we would like to. As mentioned in my Wyalusing post, the Woodland Indians of this area built many mounds. No one knows exactly why they started or stopped building these mounds, but they are well preserved at this monument. In fact it has over 200 mounds representing more than 2000 years of mound building along the Upper Mississippi River. Check out this blog post for more of a first hand experience about the park.
McGregor - This is a small town close to the park. It has a lot of unique shops and restaurants. It’s worth a visit to walk through. It won’t take too much time to finish. There is a great picnic overlook down Point Anne Ln (from the main stretch, head south on 4th St and then left on to Point Anne). Also, on A Street, near the northwest corner with Main St, there is a hotel that has a couple of small storage buildings built into the bluffs. They are quite unique. You can see them from the sidewalk.
Is Pikes Peak worth a visit? If you enjoy gorgeous views and nice hiking trails, definitely. There is no entry fee to this park so even if you are just looking for a place to have a nice picnic in the area, this would be my recommendation.
Would you visit again? Yes. I would have liked to do some more hiking in the park and as I mentioned before, I need to spend some time at Effigy Mounds National Monument. As for a place to camp though, I would go back to Wyalusing State Park, it just has better tent camping options.