Stone State Park has 10.44 total miles of trails that can be used for hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking and trail running. In the winter, multi-use trails can be used for cross-country skiing and snowmobiles. All the trails in the park are in excellent condition with only minor erosion issues. The loess soil that makes up that trail system is comfortable and quiet to walk on. It makes for perfect trail running conditions and I saw several people doing just that. My stealthy footfalls allowed me to inadvertently sneak up on many deer and turkey. There are almost no rocks or boulders on the paths and where it is necessary, steps are constructed of soil and timbers. Points of interest and trails are well marked. The loess soil is prone to erosion when it’s exposed so signage requests that you stay on marked trails and don’t cut switch backs to minimize damage off trails.
The 4.18 miles of trails in the northern half of the park are designated single use hiking only. I did see bike tracks on these trails so be alert. The northern trails also offer some of the best points of interest in the park. If you’re up for a challenge, hike a loop of trails starting at the campground to see many of the parks highlights. The loop hike will take two – four hours depending on your pace. I would recommend that you take a lunch, water, camera and binoculars.
I really enjoyed the trek from the Stone Lodge to Dakota Point via the Tunnel Trail and Buffalo Run Trail on the north side of the park. The tunnel structure under Savanah Road was an interesting place to linger. Watch out for the nesting birds inside the tunnel. They like to wait until the last minute to burst out as you pass by. The rest for the walk will take you past the cabins, playground and through a shaded forest. The payoff at the end is the view of the Little Sioux River, Nebraska and South Dakota at Dakota Point.
The multiuse trail system on the south side of the park is a 6.26 mile trail network that is shared by hikers, bikers and horseback riders. These trails offer many features mountain bikers and equestrian riders seek. Equestrian riders will enjoy long rides through a canopy of trees and a wide ridgeline path with picturesque views to the west.
Mountain bikers can snake their way down a labyrinth of trails starting at one of two high point trailheads on Talbot Road. The ride down can cover several miles and drops over 300 ft. in elevation to the bottom at HWY 12. The terrain offers some single track technical challenges for bikers with ruts, washouts, berms and challenging climbs. The compact loess soil makes for a fast ride too. Keep an eye out for hikers, horses, deer and turkey.
From a hiker’s perspective my, favorite multiuse trails in the south end of the park are Broken Toe Trail to Mt. Lucia Trail and Mark’s Glenn Trail. Broken Toe and Mt. Lucia Trails give you a good cross section of the terrain. You get a pleasant walk in the woods, panoramic views and a ridgeline stroll through prairie remnants. Mark’s Glenn is a picturesque hike through a deep shade hollow. I saw many deer on this path and countless songbirds could be heard.
As an Iowa native and outdoor enthusiast, I was embarrassed that I had not known about Stone State Park until recently. Don’t let its proximity to a large city detour you from paying this park a visit. There is plenty of room in this park and you can quickly elude crowds with a hike in the woods. The only negative about Stone State Park’s proximity to a large population is the trash I saw at popular points of interest. I confirmed this issue with the park staff. They do an excellent job keeping the park clean with the resources they have.
Water sports are not the strong point at Stone State Park, but there are plenty of other places to go for that experience. This park is a hiker’s, mountain biker’s and equestrian’s playground. I also have no doubt that this is one of the best places in Iowa when the fall colors are in their full glory. Stone State Park can easily be considered one of Iowa signature destination parks.
Related Parks You May Like
- Dolliver Memorial State Park
- Ledges State Park
- Maquoketa Caves State Park
- Pikes Peak State Park
- Waubonsie State Park