Just off the Missouri River, take in a western sunset view.

With a short drive in from the Iowa/Nebraska border, enter the Hitchcock Nature Center's main parking lot. It offers 6 "Backcountry Campsites" that are only available by reservation. There is something for everyone ranging from "advanced" to "beginner." Be sure to stop at the Loess Hills Lodge and take in a brief history of the area and climb the 4.5 story observation tower. Following the trails map be sure you have mapped your route. 

We packed in on a Friday evening to the Cottonwood back-country tent site. Although there are multiple routes to get to each site, we chose a longer route to take on more of an adventure. The terrain varied from single path foot-beds to double tire tracks with steep elevation change. Once we arrived we checked our legs and packs for ticks as we constantly were pulling them off our feet and ankles. After setting up our tent and building a fire we took some photos from the edge of the hills overlooking the west towards the Missouri River. Fire wood is available for purchase but there is plenty of "deadfall" available. We packed out the next morning, dropped our packs off in the car, and explored a couple other trails.


Pack List

  • Backpack
  • Tent 
  • Sleeping pad/bag
  • Desired food and beverages
  • Bug repellent
  • Camera 
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RT Distance 1.5 Miles
Elevation Gain 1270 Feet
Activities Camping, Photography, Backpacking, Hiking, Fitness
Skill Level Intermediate
Season Spring, Summer, Autumn
Trail Type Point-to-Point
Adult Beverages
Dog Friendly
Easy Parking


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Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

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