Despite being more synonymous with suburbs and strip malls than backwoods and backcountry, the Midwest doesn’t let its minimalist outdoors reputation hold it back. The region has some truly spectacular spots to get in touch with nature if you know where to look. Here are five of our favorite day hikes in America’s Breadbasket.
1. Conkle’s Hollow Rim Trail ~ Length: 2.5 miles – Difficulty: Easy to Moderate – Location: Ohio
This short and sweet trek through Ohio’s astoundingly beautiful Hocking Hills treats day hikers to some of the best views in all of Ohio. The trail meanders through forested valleys, past beautifully cascading waterfalls, and along some of the highest cliffs in the entire state.
2. Cathedral Canyon ~ Length: 6-8 miles – Difficulty: Strenuous – Location: Missouri
Located in the St. Francois Mountains of Southeastern Missouri, this relatively difficult scramble through boulder filled streams and towering jagged cliff line treats hikers to a meandering canyon, magnificent views, and a superb cardiovascular workout.
3. Sylvan Runkel State Preserve ~ Length: 12 miles – Difficulty: Moderate – Location: Iowa
Looking to satisfy a wanderlust for wide open spaces? Look no further than Iowa’s Sylvan Runkel State Preserve. This full day out and back over the rolling and grassy hills of the Hawkeye state is one of Iowa’s best kept backcountry secrets.
4. Petrified Forest Loop ~ Length: 10 miles – Difficulty: Moderate to Strenuous – Location: North Dakota
Located in the South Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park, this spectacular saunter through the parks petrified forest and badlands provides day hikers with an incredible offering of beautiful scenery and unique formations to be discovered around every turn. Opportunities to view the park’s many bison are also a favorite highlight of this outstanding hike.
5. Harney Peak ~ Length: 3.5 miles – Difficulty: Moderate – Location: South Dakota
This amazing hike to the summit of the highest point in South Dakota is one of the best kept secrets in the entire state. Often overlooked by more popular attractions such as Mt. Rushmore and the Badlands, Harney Peak boasts some of the best panoramic views of South Dakota and the surrounding Black Hills.
By Zack Rizzo