1 Mile Loop Trail at Kuehn Conservation Area

We recently camped at the Kuehn Conservation hike-in campsite and had so much fun; I decided to properly map out a trail route we took while we were there (you can find a 2-mile loop we have hiked in the past, in this post). It is mainly in the forest and goes down over a stream into what I call true “Fern Gully” style woods. So lush, green, and quiet. While you can continue to go deeper into the forest past the tree that I climbed, we turned and went back to the prairie and then back up past the upper campground to form a 1-mile loop.

You can find more details like the address and link to the official website on the main Kuehn Conservation Area page below.

Kuehn Conservation Area- Earlham, Iowa


kuehn camping route

Starting and ending at the parking lot it was roughly 2 miles. This is a great loop if you’re camping too since it ends up right back by the campsite! There is a brief jaunt across the prairie, but it is mostly in shade. There is a moderate incline on both directions of the loop, but nothing terribly challenging with a mix of grass, dirt, and gravel terrain.

kuehn 1 mile

We started by the gardens, heading down into the brush.

kuehn 1 mile 2

You quickly come to a stream; last fall (below) it was totally dry but this visit there was a bit of running water.

Kuehn Conservation Area earlham iowa (6)

Kuehn Conservation Area earlham iowa (1)

There is a big old tree perfect for climbing in this spot, and you can decide whether to go straight or turn left. We opted to turn left this time, heading towards the prairie.

kuehn 1 mile 3

Right as you go from wooded to prairie, there is a surprise little picnic area! With two wooden structures to explore and a picnic table, it was a wonderful spot to eat lunch.

prairie des moines area kuehn conservation area earlham iowa

Then you end up out in the prairie where it is pretty and open! Turning left again takes you on to a gravel path and hill, the campsite to your right, and then back to the service road that you can walk along to the parking lot.

I have trouble rating difficulty, but I wouldn’t recommend this loop for anyone with mobility problems as there was significant brush, uneven footing, and moderate hills. It has a nice balance of hills/terrain and easier spots, both of my kids had no problems hiking the entire thing. Expect to see and hear lots of birds and maybe some deer if you’re lucky!

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