In Iowa, we aren’t as blessed with glorious mountain hikes or beautiful waterscape views, but don’t sleep on Iowa trails and forests! We have an amazing DNR in this state that takes great care of our trails and parks, with the added bonus of never worrying about excessive tourism.
History & Information
Christiansen Forest Preserve in Huxley, Iowa in the central region of the state is a hidden gem in this pass-through town. It’s neatly tucked within a residential area, but you’d be surprised the amount of forest, prairie scenery, and challenging hikes this trail provides! There’s plenty of space for parking, no public restrooms, but you’re only minutes away from a gas station if needed.
According to Story County Iowa, “Christiansen Forest Preserve is a 45-acre wooded tract near Huxley. It was donated to the conservation board in 1985 by Charles Christiansen. The area is designated as a wildlife refuge; no hunting is allowed.”
Typically it can take me anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour to walk the majority of this trail if I’m trying to break a sweat, and my Samsung gear watch will usually recognize up to 17 floors by the time I’m done, so it’s a perfect workout for myself and Zora!
When explaining this trail to others, I usually break it up into three parts:
- Front forest trail with slight elevation
- Flat prairieland views
- Back dense forest hike with steep inclines/declines
Front Forest Trail Section
The beginning section has a nice amount of parking and small open area before you’ll head into the trail. There are options to go left or right, I tend to start going to the left because that gets us closer to my favorite back wooded area, then I come back to the beginning the other way.
And if you’re lucky, you may even encounter goats in this beginning section! I don’t think they are there every year, but occasionally they have them fenced off for weed control.
Then you’ll be within a wooded trail that has a steadily incline and will get your heart rate going. This is eventually leading you up to the flat prairie section. There are some benches throughout for sitting, and my personal favorite – taking pictures and selfies of your dog!
Flat Prairie Views
This middle section is filled with beautiful Iowa prairie and stays flat throughout. The city is great about keeping the walking portion mowed and wide so it’s easy to walk through with family or friends.
Another reason why we never get bored of this trail is because of how much it changes each season, there’s always something new to look at and discover! Iowa prairies are constantly changing and have such a diverse wildlife.
Back Forest Section
Personally my favorite part of the trail is this back wooded area! The trail here is a little skinnier, winds around and has lots of incline and decline throughout to get you a good workout. In the muggiest times of the year there can be a lot of bugs and spiders out (always check for ticks afterwards!), but any other time it is gorgeous out. I’m a personal fan of fall because of all the leaves lining the trail.
There’s a peculiar looking dismantled home towards the beginning/ending of this back wooded area. I’m not sure if there’s any significance or history with it, but it’s neat to walk by!
There’s also a small stream the run throughout, as you can see there’s a little bridge to cross over it. Such beautiful views either way you look!
Disclaimer 10/10/2020: Due to the derecho (Blog post about our derecho story here) back in August, it has damaged a lot of the back portion of this trail and is now closed at this time. We have high hopes that it will be re-opened in the future, but for now you can access the rest of the trail up until that point. There is also some closure in the prairie portion due to conservation efforts, but there is still plenty of walking area.
Hope you’re able to make time to check out this beautiful Iowa forest!