Hiking in Pikes Peak

By , August 8, 2017 6:26 am

When my siblings and I were kids, my parents took us hiking at Pikes Peak State Park in Iowa during our spring breaks. The park is thirteen miles from Guttenberg, and free to visit, so when we were coming up with activities for our vacation with Gina and family, it immediately came to mind!

Gina, Steve, and Luca, Mom and Dad, me and Steven

For awhile I’ve wondered why Pikes Peak Iowa has the same name as the mountain in Colorado, and I finally looked it up – it’s because they are both named for the same explorer – Zebulon Pike. Thomas Jefferson authorized Pike to lead several expeditions, including one through Iowa in 1805-06, and the one through Colorado in 1806-07. When Pike was in the Iowa area, he was looking for areas for military posts. He recommended the high point on the Iowa side (now Pikes Peak) for the strategic advantage, but the government choose the low prairie across the river in Prairie du Chien, (now) Wisconsin (info from here).

This area has a interesting history. In the 800s-1200s Native Americans lived here and you can still see their effigy mounds on the trails! You are at street level with them, so it’s kind of hard to make out the shape of the animal, but I can always tell where the head, legs, and body are. The Native Americans built these to celebrate their oneness with mother nature.

And there’s your history lesson for the day!

We visited Pikes Peak on Tuesday, August 1st. A tornado went through Pikes Peak and McGregor, the town north of it, on July 19th, so some trees were damaged and parts of the trails were closed, but none that affected where we were going. I looked at the trail map for the first time on this visit (I had always visited as a kid and didn’t have an interest!!!) and realized there are eleven and a half miles of trails!

We’ve only ever visited the area I circled in red on the map above. I need to get back and check out more of it. Maybe a trail run for River Trip 2018?

On this trip, we stuck to the Bridal Veil, East Hickory Ridge, and Weeping Rock Trails. We saw stunning vistas of the Mississippi River,

that area in the back right of the photo is Prairie du Chien

A little photographer photographer action going on

a waterfall,


71% of our crew was wearing Asics!

cool rock formations,

and beautiful forests.

Our hike ended in the shaded woods, which I appreciated, because it was getting close to midday and was hot out. We ended up hiking 1.6 miles and everyone did well. Gina had been taking Luca on lots of morning walks this summer to get him ready for the hike, which I thought was super cute (and smart)! I wonder if we’ll go back next year, or if I will ever check out the northern trails!

11 Responses to “Hiking in Pikes Peak”

  1. Kiersten says:

    This is gorgeous! Thanks for the history lesson- I know nothing about this area of the country!

    • kilax says:

      You’re welcome! I wonder if I learned these things as a kid and forgot. It’s so much easier to remember as an adult when it’s someplace you’ve gone and you are the one seeking the information! 🙂

  2. C says:

    It looks like a beautiful area! I was wondering about the name so I’m glad you put in that explanation 🙂

    • kilax says:

      It really is! I wonder what the rest of the trails are like!

      I can’t believe it took me this long to look it up. Ha ha.

  3. Karen says:

    Stunning views for sure! Sounds like a great time to me, loved the history lesson 🙂

  4. Super interesting about Pikes Peak! I definitely didn’t know there was one in Iowa, too. I wonder why the government chose Prairie du Chien over Pikes Peak for a fort – his reasoning about the strategic advantage of a high location makes a lot of sense to me! Especially since I’d think a low prairie right next to a gigantic river would be at pretty high risk for flooding compared to an elevated point on the other side. Anyway, your hike looks lovely! The views of the river in particular are beautiful 🙂

    • kilax says:

      I am wondering as well. Maybe the access was better there? I can’t imagine getting horses and supplies up the hills to that lookout! I’d like to learn more about it. I wonder if any of the fort still remains in Prairie du Chien!

  5. Shelley B says:

    I would appreciate revisiting all the places we hiked as children, now – I’m sure there’s so much I missed due to being young…funny how all of a sudden these places become so much more interesting! Loved reading about the history of the area.

  6. Kathy says:

    That looks so pretty!

    • kilax says:

      It is, especially in the summer! Now that I think about it, I am realizing all of my trips before were in March. I bet it would be pretty in the fall, too!

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