Council Bluffs Winter Hiking Guide

“To appreciate the beauty of a snowflake it is necessary to stand out in the cold.” -Aristotle

The winter landscape offers breathtaking views and a humbling sense of solitude in the Midwest. Many parks across Council Bluffs offer excellent hiking opportunities this time of year. That being said, there are also some risks associated with winter hiking. Our winter hiking tips will help you have a safe and UNforgettable hike.

Winter Hiking Tips

1. Wear Layers

Dressing in layers is important when hiking in cooler conditions. Having a variety of insulated and waterproof clothing will help you regulate your body temperature during your hike to ensure that you stay comfortable the entire time.  For more details on the types of clothing to wear, check out REI’s Clothing and Gear Tips for Cold-Weather Hiking.

2. Check the Forecast

As you know, weather can be extremely unpredictable in the Midwest. Paying attention to the temperature, precipitation, and daylight hours is key to ensuring that you have a safe and enjoyable hike.  

3. Bring Supplies

Be sure to bring along supplies like water and sunscreen. Even though the temperatures are low, you always need water to keep yourself hydrated while exercising. The snow and the ice are amazing reflectors of the sun, so make sure you protect your skin and eyes by wearing sunscreen or sunglasses.

4. Know your Limitations

Listen to your body. Do not hesitate to turn around if you run into bad weather conditions or are feeling too cold. The trail will be there the next time you are ready for an outdoor adventure.

Local Trails for Winter Hiking

Hitchcock Nature Center

If anything, the snow makes the trails at Hitchcock Nature Center more beautiful and magical.  Hiking, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing allow you to get out into the Loess Hills to experience the serene and still landscape. Snowshoes can be rented for $6 a day from the Hitchcock Nature Center Lodge during regular business hours. View their website for more detail on rentals.

Wabash Trace Nature Trail

The gentle grade of this well-known rail trail is perfect for cross-country skiing in the winter. The 63-mile trail allows you to experience winter through the scenic Iowa countryside.  

Lake Manawa State Park

Lake Manawa State Park has both paved and unpaved trails that allow people of all skill levels to get outside in the winter to enjoy the crisp air. 

Vincent Bluff State Preserve

This urban prairie preserve is a great outdoor escape right in the heart of Council Bluffs. Once you have reached the top of Vincent Bluff you will be greeted by UNbeatable scenic views of the city covered in a beautiful blanket of snow.

But Wait! There's More

For more ideas of where to hike in Council Bluffs and Pottawattamie County, check out our play listings! If you prefer the indoors, check out our Indoor Activities blog. Don't forget to share your CB winter experience with us by tagging us on Facebook and Instagram and using #UNleashCB. 

This post was originally published on December 7, 2022 on the Unleash Council Bluffs blog.