"The backpack areas are large enough to support a large group or several small groups. They are not organized areas so you can spread out if you arrive to find a group or individuals already at the site. On nice weekends, slight but not overwhelming traffic can be expected.

The backpack trail is also part of our equestrian trail for some of its length, so horses may be encountered. On weekdays, you will seldom encounter other users. There is a public water supply at the sawmill/headquarters areas. Water from springs or streams should be suitable for bathing but not for drinking or brushing teeth. Camp fires are permitted.

Please practice fire safety and be sure your fire is dead before leaving the site. Do not use a camp fire during extremely dry conditions. No reservations are necessary, nor do we accept them. Facilities at the forest are on a first come basis. You may wish to try other backpack opportunities at Stephens, Shimek or Loess Hills State Forests." Backpacking and camping info by IowaDNR


Hiking Yellow River State Forest

Backpacking in Iowa? You may be feeling skeptical but it is for real. The hiking trails at Yellow River are really a mix of wide horse trails that are in decent condition with some actual backpacking trails. Located in scenic NE Iowa there are several large designated sites that you must camp on but there is room for multiple groups while maintaining your privacy. There is also a nice river running through the middle of the park and near some camping sites, water filter or purification needed.

"Yellow River's backpacking trails were featured in an article which appeared in the April 1996 edition of “Outside” magazine entitled “America’s Top 50 Hikes--The Finest in Every State”. The trails are open year round. Degree of difficulty ranges from relatively easy to moderate. If you have a scout or other youth group looking for a backpacking experience, or if you are planning a “real” backpacking trip out west and need some place to train, this is for you.

There are over 25 miles of marked & maintained trails in the Paint Creek Unit alone. There is no charge or registration required for the use of our backpack trail facilities. There are two camp areas along the trail which are not accessible by vehicles so you can really “get away from it all”. Backpacking and camping info by IowaDNR

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