Fantastic Trails for Hiking in the Midwest

There’s nothing better than getting outside on a warm summer day to enjoy the mood-boosting effects of the sun. Add some exercise-induced endorphins that come from enjoying the best hiking in the Midwest, and you have the makings of a perfect summer adventure. From the best hiking in Wisconsin and the leading Minnesota hiking trails to the fantastic Loess Hills, where you’ll find the best Iowa hiking trails, there are plenty of fantastic places across the Midwest to enjoy an adventure-packed getaway. 

Though you may envision the craggy mountains of the West or the soaring peaks of places like New Hampshire’s White Mountains as more traditional places for hiking adventures, the Midwest has plenty to offer the avid outdoor enthusiast. In fact, with a spectacular collection of National Scenic Trails like the Ice Age National Scenic Trail spanning much of the Midwest, it may be one of the best places in the country to strap on your hiking boots and hit the trails. 

Of course, as you gear up to enjoy the best hiking in the Midwest, you’ll want to find a comfortable place to come home to at the end of the day. There’s no better place to relax, unwind, and soothe your tired muscles than at one of the best Bed and Breakfasts in the Midwest. We offer an unprecedented collection of Inns, Bed and Breakfasts, and boutique hotels across the Midwest – a lodging experience that comes complete with hospitality that you can’t find at large hotel chains. 

Whether you choose to explore the vast expanses of Minnesota and Wisconsin or uncover the hidden charms of Illinois and Iowa, we’d love to share our beautiful corners of the world with you and help you craft an adventure like no other. Browse our exceptional group of properties and book your lodging today!

A couple hiking through the forest and enjoying some of the best hiking in the Midwest

The Best Hiking in Wisconsin & Minnesota

One only needs to turn to Wisconsin and Minnesota to find the best hiking in the Midwest. Wisconsin, home to plenty of hilly terrain in the Driftless Region and stunning coastal bluffs, is a fantastic destination for hiking in the Midwest. And in Minnesota, you’ll find plenty of rugged, hilly terrain to explore in both the northern and southern portions of the state.

Below, we’ve highlighted some of the best places to enjoy hiking in Wisconsin and a roundup of some of the top Minnesota hiking trails worth exploring this summer. With us as your guide, we have no doubt you’ll soon be enjoying an adventure like no other, with some of the best hiking in the Midwest.

5 Great Places For Hiking in Wisconsin

It won’t take you long to see why Wisconsin is considered to have some of the best hiking in the Midwest. From the grand bluffs of Door County and the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore to the stunning bluffs and deep river valleys of the Driftless region in the southwest, there is plenty of extraordinary hiking in Wisconsin. Below, we’ve listed some of our favorite spots to go hiking in Wisconsin – but this is truly just the tip of the iceberg!

  1. If you only have time to explore one trail in the Midwest, make it the Ice Age National Scenic Trail. Not only is it one of the best places to go hiking in Wisconsin, but it offers some of the best hiking in the Midwest. It’s one of 11 National Scenic Trails in the country and spans 1,200 incredible miles across Wisconsin, taking you through some of the state’s most remarkable scenery.
  2. One of the most popular Wisconsin State Parks – which also happens to be a perfect spot for a bit of hiking in Wisconsin – is Devils Lake State Park in Baraboo. The teal waters of Devil’s Lake are mesmerizing and only made more spectacular by the towering quartzite cliffs surrounding the lake.
  3. Take in the world-famous scenery of Wisconsin’s Door County, and enjoy some of the best hiking in the Midwest while you’re at it. Here, you’ll find great hiking in Wisconsin, particularly at Peninsula State Park. There, you’ll have the chance to hike along the Niagara Escarpment, enjoying coastal views as you go.
  4. Heading out to the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore for a grand kayaking adventure is a bucket list item for many – but the Bayfield area is also home to some outstanding hiking in Wisconsin. Take, for example, Big Bay State Park, reachable only by ferry from Bayfield. Spend the day hiking here, and you’ll enjoy incredible vistas of the state’s untamed wilderness, not to mention the panoramic view of Lake Superior. It’s little wonder why this area is considered to have some of the best hiking in the Midwest.
  5. Wildcat Mountain State Park is an excellent off-the-beaten-path gem for hiking in Wisconsin and offers a spectacular up-close glimpse at the state’s Driftless Area. Here, you’ll find yourself hiking through steep limestone bluffs overlooking the winding Kickapoo River in the valley below. You’ll see these majestic Driftless Area landscapes play out over and over again in our roundup of the best hiking in the Midwest. 

The 5 Best Minnesota Hiking Trails

Minnesota, the land of 10,000 lakes, may not yet be on your radar as a great hiking destination, but it should be! In fact, some of the best hiking in the Midwest is found here, most notably in the rugged north surrounding Duluth and the southern Bluff Country. Wherever you end up in this beautiful Midwestern state, there are plenty of Minnesota hiking trails to enjoy. Below, we’ve listed some of the best Minnesota hiking trails to add to your summer adventure list.

  1. Though there are plenty of smaller Minnesota hiking trails, perhaps the grandest of them all is the Superior Hiking Trail near Duluth. This remarkable trail, part of the larger North Country National Scenic Trail that stretches from North Dakota to Vermont, stretches for an impressive 310 miles. While you’re in the area, there are even more great hiking trails at Jay Cooke State Park.
  2. For more great hiking in the Midwest, head to Itasca State Park. One of our favorite Minnesota hiking trails here is the Aiton Heights Fire Tower Trail, which offers a 100-foot-tall view over the Lake Itasca watershed, best known for the headwaters of the Mississippi River.
  3. After exploring Wisconsin’s Driftless Area, it’s time to head to Minnesota to discover the impact of the last glacial age on this state. A great place to witness this history is the Glacial Potholes Trail along the St.Croix River in Minnesota’s Interstate State Park. These potholes were formed as glaciers melted, with more than 400 of them here.
  4. For some urban hiking in the Twin Cities, don’t miss the pathways around the Chain of Lakes Park, along the Mississippi River Trail in St. Paul, and any of the segments of the Grand Rounds Trail. Another excellent place for hiking in the Midwest, of course, is Minnehaha Regional Park, home to the famous 53-foot Minnehaha Falls.
  5. In southern Minnesota, you’ll find stunning bluffs along the Mississippi River that are excellent for hiking in the Midwest. One of the best is Barn Bluff in the quaint town of  Red Wing. You can watch barges travel the river from there as eagles soar high overhead. Another great spot in Red Wing that offers beautiful river views and some of the best hiking in the Midwest is Frontenac State Park.

For even more of the best hiking in the Midwest, continue your adventure below with some of the top Iowa hiking trails and some truly beautiful hiking in Illinois.

An Older Couple enjoying hiking and birdwatching - enjoying some of the best hiking in the Midwest

More Great Hiking in Illinois and Iowa

Though Wisconsin and Minnesota often get much-deserved attention regarding outdoor activities like biking and hiking in the Midwest, there are even more fantastic opportunities to explore in Illinois and Iowa. With popular places like Starved Rock State Park and the scenic Loess Hills, there’s a lot to love about these charming midwestern states!

Below, we’ve put together a guide that features the best Iowa hiking trails and great places to enjoy a bit of hiking in Illinois. Of course, connecting all your adventures is a stay at one of our Bed and Breakfasts in the Midwest

Hiking in Illinois

From the urban trails of Chicago to the gently rolling hills of Illinois’ Driftless Area along the Mississippi River, there are plenty of great places to explore this summer. Grab a comfortable pair of shoes, pack some water, and hit the trails for some of the best hiking in the Midwest! We’ve highlighted five of our favorite places to go hiking in Illinois. 

  1. When it comes to hiking in Illinois, the first place that comes to mind is (and should be ) Starved Rock State Park. Like most of the best hiking in the Midwest we’ve covered so far, Starved Rock State Park gives you access to some of the most unique geography in Illinois. Here, you’ll find steep sandstone canyons surrounding the Illinois River, a veritable playground for outdoor enthusiasts of all types. 
  2. In the Galena Area, you’ll find some of the best hiking in Illinois. Like other Midwest states, Illinois has what’s known as a Driftless Region; an area untouched by the last receding glaciers, which resulted in unusually hilly terrain perfect for hiking. Horseshoe Mound Preserve is one of the most popular places to hike in the Galena area. 
  3. Another fantastic destination for hiking in Illinois, complete with beautiful scenery and waterfalls, is Ferne Clyffe State Park. The highlight here is the waterfall, but the park is also known for its interesting rock formations and unique plant communities.
  4. Step into Cache River State Natural Area, and you’ll feel like you left Illinois and immersed yourself in the Bayous of the deep south. This truly unique area is a fascinating place to enjoy some hiking in Illinois. The area sits in an Ohio River floodplain. Enjoy the beautiful Cypress trees here – and make the time to hop in a kayak to paddle the area. It’s more than worth it!
  5. Like Wisconsin and Minnesota, Illinois is home to a National Trail. In this case, follow in the footsteps of our area’s most famous explorers and hike along the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail. In fact, this remarkable trail offers not only some great hiking in Illinois but Iowa as well! 

Iowa Hiking Trails

There’s a lot more to Iowa than meets the eye – and that includes plenty of interesting Iowa hiking trails! Though predominantly known for its flat, rich farmland, Iowa is full of surprises – especially in the western Loess Hills Region, a unique land formation in the western portion of the state. That’s not all you’ll find in the beautiful state of Iowa, though, and the Innkeepers at our Bed and Breakfasts in the Midwest would love nothing more than to share their favorite Iowa hiking trails with you!

  1. Speaking of the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail – if you find yourself looking for the best Iowa Hiking Trails, head to this state’s historic portion of the trail at Waubonsie State Park. Here, you’ll enjoy the scenic overlooks of four states while learning more about these remarkable explorers and their journey west.  
  2. One of the most popular places for hiking in Iowa is Ledges State Park. One look at this park’s signature sandstone ledges, and you’ll see why it’s one of the best places for hiking in the Midwest. The stunning ledges rise up to 100 feet around Pea’s Creek!
  3. The Loess Hills are one of the most interesting regions in Iowa – and they are home to some of the best Iowa hiking trails, too. Consider spending some time on the many trails within the Loess Hills State Forest – but that’s just one of the great places to enjoy hiking in Iowa’s Loess Hills
  4. Backbone State Park is Iowa’s oldest state park. It’s located in the valley of the Maquoketa River and offers hikers terrain unlike anywhere else in Iowa. In fact, the Devil’s Backbone is the highest point in northeastern Iowa and is truly a beautiful place to enjoy a relaxing afternoon hiking in the Midwest. It’s easy to see why this area is home to some of the most popular Iowa hiking trails.
  5. The “Backpack Trail” at Yellow River State Forest was named one of the best Iowa hiking trails by Outdoor magazine – so of course it’s on our list of the best places for hiking in the Midwest! It’s easy to see why, too, as this gorgeous trail is located in Iowa’s Driftless Region in northeastern Iowa. 

These are just a few top hiking trails in the Midwest waiting to be explored this summer. As always, the best guide for your summer adventures will be someone with personal knowledge of their city, state, and region. You’ll find that and much more at our top-rated collection of Bed and Breakfasts in the Midwest. Book your room with us today!