Need to Know: Hiking spots near Ames


Jill O'Brien/Iowa State Daily

One of the sidewalks that leads down to the lake at McFarland Park. 

Andrea Dahl

With busy work and class schedules, it can be difficult to enjoy the natural beauties Ames has to offer. However, becoming one with nature is a healthy way to cleanse the mind and soul from toxic stress. Whether you are ready for an afternoon drive or a weekend getaway, check out these local hiking spots.

McFarland Park

Hidden down a two-mile gravel road in north Ames, McFarland Park offers grass prairies, 5.5 miles of trails, streams and an observatory. The park is open to hiking and off-road biking, as well as fishing in the 6.5 acre lake.

Ada Hayden Heritage Park

Once a rock quarry in northwest Ames, Ada Hayden offers 10 miles of hiking trails and two lakes, spanning across 430 acres. Outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy boating, fishing and bird watching, as the park is home to multiple species of birds including loons, bald eagles, sandhill cranes and white pelicans.

Inis Grove Park

Tucked away off Duff Avenue, Inis Grove Park offers basketball courts, sand volleyball courts, tennis courts and a large nature area. The park includes hiking trails that wrap around the Skunk River and provide opportunities to see streams and wildlife, such as deer, frogs and insects.

River Valley Park

Concealed in northeast Ames, River Valley Park is a public park located off of the Skunk River and offers horseshoe pits, sand volleyball and a nature area. The Skunk River attracts various wildlife, and visitors can observe ducks and other birds, deer and tadpoles.

Ledges State Park

Although Iowa is commonly thought of as flat, magnificent canyons and bluffs are hidden away in Madrid, Iowa, with sandstone ledges rising nearly 100 feet above creek beds. A 23-minute drive from Ames, Ledges State Park offers outdoor activities such as camping, boating and fishing. With four miles of steep trails, hiking is also a popular activity for outdoor enthusiasts who seek a scenic view.