Park Spotlight: Hitchcock Nature Center

Spend a day exploring the Loess Hills on the 10 miles of trails at Hitchcock Nature Center near Honey Creek in western Iowa.

With some of the largest remaining prairie in the state, summer is an ideal time to explore the Loess Hills.

Operated by Pottawattamie Conservation, Hitchcock Nature Center is loaded with amenities for a day trip or overnight. Because it’s located north of Council Bluffs by about 20 minutes, it’s possible to stay in the city, or you can camp out under the stars at the park campground or one of the seven backcountry sites. Plus, there are three cabins for rent—weekdays are still available this summer.

Ten miles of trails weave through the park, with numerous loops available. Many of the sections are a mile or less, so it’s possible to cover several loops in a day before taking a break at the Loess Hills Lodge, which has a gallery and gift shop, picnic tables outside, and an observation deck and tower for watching the area’s numerous bird species.

Birders should plan a visit for Hawkwatch, which runs September through December. During the event, birds-of-prey enthusiasts gather on top of Hitchcock Nature Center’s observation tower to count and study thousands of eagles, hawks and other raptors as they migrate south.

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