McBride Nature Recreation Loop
ElevationAscent: 535' 163 m
Descent: -551' -168 m
High: 869' 265 m
Low: 717' 219 m
GradeAvg Grade: 5% (3°)
Max Grade: 19% (11°)
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“A fun, challenging hike through Lake McBride State Park and adjacent McBride Recreation area.”— chris kilgore
Features Birding · Fall Colors · Lake · River/Creek · Spring · Swimming · Views · Waterfall · Wildflowers · Wildlife
When you reach the spillway, after taking in the sights, head south on the trail that's now paralleling the Res shoreline. Turn right about half way up the steep ridge that climbs out of the first drainage. Stay on this trail as it follows the contour of the shoreline until it ends in a T-intersection with another trail. Take a left here away from the shoreline. This trail will be crossed by a wide grass path; go straight across this and back into a small low-lying area, then back out to another wide doubletrack.
Take a right on this doubletrack. You can add a mile and a half by staying on this trail down to a little peninsula, but the route I take here turns left after about a quarter mile at the Blue Bird trailhead. You'll skirt around the woods to your left, with an open prairie on your right. Bear left here and turn left back into the woods, with the Reservoir back on your right. You'll come down to a low flood plain. This area could be underwater depending on the level of the Res, so where the trail forks, you can go right or straight based on the conditions. (Stop down by the water and look across to catch a glimpse of one of the huge SETI telescopes sticking out above the trees perpetually searching for extra terrestrial intelligence).
The trail leads back up the opposite side of the drainage and will come out at a dirt/gravel road. Cross the road to the Hawk/Ravine Trail, and follow it down and steep technical descent, followed by an equally steep ascent. At the top of the opposite side of the ravine, you'll come out at a gravel parking lot. Bear right, staying on the grass and then turn right down the gravel road leading back from the parking lot. About 50 feet on, turn left onto a grass trail, and bear left as it rounds a couple curves and then heads you straight back east toward the Bluestem shelter. There's about .75 miles to go, and a few intersecting trails, but if you more or less bear right without taking any hard right turns, you'll come back out into a prairie and see the Blue Stem shelter ahead of you and your vehicle waiting.
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Land Manager: University of Iowa Recreational Services