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If you’re looking for a way to put that new fitness tracker to the test and you’re sick of walking circles at the gym, take it outside and try some of these top winter trail activities in Iowa’s state parks, recreation areas and forests.
Slip on some skis. We’re not talking the downhill kind, we’re talking the calorie-burning cross-country kind. You can find groomed cross-country ski trails at Volga River, George Wyth, Clear Lake, Lake Macbride and at Mines of Spain.
Crunch the snow. Snowshoeing packs a major fitness punch while also letting you soak in the calming quiet of the outdoors – and it has a low impact environmentally. As long as there is snow, snowshoeing can be done on almost any state-managed trail, with the exception of areas with numerous stair steps and groomed paths for cross country skiers. Take your trek to Waubonsie State Park, scenic and quiet, and with plenty of places to explore and cabins available for winter rental.
Try it all. Connected to a 100-mile network of well-supported community trails, George Wyth State Park is a great place to dabble in lots of winter activities, from cross-country skiing to snowmobiling. Check out a snow bike competition, hosted by the Cedar Valley Association for Soft Trails, at George Wyth. Just across the river lies the county-managed Hartman Reserve. With Cedar Falls and Waterloo right next door, there are many options for food and lodging nearby so you can make a weekend of it.
Escape to the woods. If you’re looking for more of a backcountry, remote experience, try Yellow River State Forest in eastern Iowa and the Loess Hills State Forest in western Iowa. Both offer miles of trail (32 and 56, respectively) in a more remote setting. Primitive camping is available in winter for the heartier trekkers. In north central Iowa, Brushy Creek State Recreation Area has 40 miles of trails to wander. Winter trail activities there include snowmobiling, cross country ski, horseback riding, and snowshoeing. Ski trails are available, but not groomed.
For more information on getting fit in Iowa’s outdoors, check out our Healthy Happy Outdoors board on Pinterest, as well as our Iowa State Parks and We Love Winter in Iowa boards. Plan your next outing with our Iowa State Parks pages on www.iowadnr.gov.