We have so much beauty here in Iowa and that really shows during the fall months. If you haven't already tried hitting the trail with your family, this is a great time to do it! Mild temps keep everyone happy and the crunchy leaves make for awesome nature sensory play. Here area some of our favorite fall hikes in the Corridor that we enjoy as a family.
Note: The hikes mentioned vary in difficulty and child safety concerns. As always, use your best judgment in choosing hikes that work for your family.
Sandbar along the Cedar River
A popular site for family pictures, Palisades-Kepler combines the beauty of fall foliage with the drama of the cliffs along the Cedar River. Pending river level, the extensive sandbar makes for an excellent space to play in the sand. (****Please note that river currents are dangerous and no one should enter the water.****) The Cool Hollow Trail runs through the park and provides a moderate hiking experience. For more of a challenge, the Cedar Cliff Trail goes along the river and provides amazing views -- sturdy kid hikers will still likely need an adult assist at points on this one and young walkers will need to be up in a carrier.
Entrance to Cedar Cliff Trail
Just down the river from Palisades is the quiet Ennis Preserve. This Linn County Park includes a 1-mile loop trail that takes you through prairie and woods, down to the river's edge and back. The trail has a steep stretch as it approaches the river, where little ones may need to be up in the carrier or hold a hand. Pack a picnic and enjoy a peaceful meal in the grass by the park's entrance.
This Asian Maple is a favorite spot to play on fall hikes
Looking for a little walker and stroller friendly fall hike? The Morgan Creek Arboretum features a crushed stone path that takes you on a loop through trees and prairie with lots of open grass space to romp and play. Side explorations into the creek are available at points, so make sure to wear water proof footwear and messy play clothes.
Sun through the trees on a fall morning at Woodpecker
Woodpecker Trail is a favorite of my kiddos from the time they can toddle down the trail. You can make it a kid-friendly 1 mile hike or loop it together with the connecting Squire Point Trail for more mileage. Woodpecker does come to one beautiful stone outlook point with a bit of a drop, so keep kiddos close as you approach the water.
A great adventure with kid hikers
Across the pond from the outdoor classroom
The Outdoor Classroom at ICNC is the perfect option if you have a little hiker who wants to explore every leaf or stick on the path. Situated around a pond, the outdoor classroom offers the chance to climb, swing, build, and explore. For more distance, you can check out ICNC's great trail network or the nearby Sac & Fox Trail, too.
Exploring with natural materials
Still hiking despite the rain
This stroller-friendly paved path provides the opportunity to combine your fall hike with coffee by heading north along the trail to Capanna Coffee (which will take you through wetlands) or east to a fork and then up across 6 to Hurts Donut Co. Either option can motivate even the most reluctant of riders or walkers. And, the fall colors along the creek are a treat all on their own!
Easy hiking for an early walker
Looking for a quieter yet still stroller-friendly stretch of trail? The Clear Creek Trail, entered from Half Moon has a wide path and a peaceful vibe that feels more akin to a dirt trail.
Johanna received a Ph.D. in English in 2014. Now a postpartum doula and educator of childbirth, breastfeeding, and infant sleep, she blogs about pregnancy, birth, postpartum, and parenting.