I love Winterset City Park!! I don’t remember why we drove down there last summer, and we couldn’t find much information about the hike, but I’m so glad that we did. Clark Tower is super unique and fun, and I have some helpful tips about the hike up to see it. This park has something for everyone with a hedge maze, bocce ball court, covered bridge, stone bridge, playgrounds, and of course the trail to see the tower.
[You can see more specific details on the Winterset City Park page or check out its location on the interactive map.]
The main entrance is unassuming, no cool sign or anything, but drive on in. You’ll see parking off to your right, but if you keep driving there is a closer parking spot to the playground and the start of the Clark Tower Trail. You can actually drive up to the tower during the open season, but hiking is allowed year round.
There are two playgrounds,I didn’t get a great shot of the smaller one up by the front because my kids were getting crabby at all the stops. We played at the larger one and they had fun, there’s a large sand volleyball court nearby as well, perfect for digging.
My son loves walking along the edge of this bridge! It is so picturesque.
This is the Cutler-Donahue Covered Bridge.
The hedge maze doesn’t look as cool in winter, but there is a sundial at the middle to find and it’s fun to run around looking for it.
This is the Bennett Log Cabin, the sign says: [ Cabin built in 1853 by Pioneer Andrew Bennett – Rebuilt in 1917 by GW Poffinbarger – Restored in 1972 by AL Lehman & Dick Mapes – 1986 Eagle Scout Project by Joe Roach – Masonry by Leo Rogers & Chuck Garrison ]
The gate was closed during this visit, it reopens in April, but parking is nearby. When it’s open, you can drive all the way up to the tower.
The road for driving up to the tower is a one-way, and if you follow the correct direction that cars go, it is a LONG hike. Instead, turn to the right when you reach the intersection, and have a much shorter hike on the paved drive or take the dirt path shortcut. You can take a stroller all the way to the tower, but you have to take the longer, paved route and I’d recommend a jogging stroller and/or some serious muscles, because there are hills and uneven (paved) terrain.
You can see the sign here, it is 1/4 mile from there to go up or 1/2 mile further on the drive.
The path is very steep going up, and then pretty easy.
We found this random tuft of hair – I am pretty sure it is from a deer? No shed antlers though, which was a bummer.
My 2 year old enjoyed picking up the huge acorn caps!
And then, in the distance, you see the tower! Made of limestone, it looks like a miniature castle. The view is beautiful, although I was wrangling my two kids and didn’t get any shots this trip without my husband to back me up.
There is a main level, stone steps up to the second level, then a nail-biting metal ladder up to the very top.
We turned around and went back down the dirt trail, but you could easily pick one of the paved path options as well. It’s easy to spend an entire day here, and there are at least two covered shelters for a picnic, along with the trails in general being pretty shaded. The drive down to Winterset itself is gorgeous as well, so I highly recommend coming out to explore! As I slowly go through past pictures, I’ll add some from Spring, and hope to go back next Fall when the trees are turning.