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greenBlue Oak and Hickory Upland Loop


0.6 mile 0.9 kilometer point to point
80% Runnable


Ascent: 127' 39 m
Descent: -120' -37 m
High: 812' 247 m
Low: 685' 209 m


Avg Grade: 8% (5°)
Max Grade: 36% (20°)


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Trail shared by chris kilgore


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A natural surface trail from the Bloomington Street entrance to the park, looping around a wooded section.

chris kilgore

Features Birding · Fall Colors · River/Creek · Spring · Wildflowers · Wildlife

The park is open from dawn until dusk year round.

Runner Notes

Hickory Hill Park is the diamond (in the rough) of Iowa City. There are probably 7-10 total miles of trail in this park, which is situated entirely within the city limits of Iowa City. None of the trails in the park are named or marked. In addition to all of the obvious trails, there's quite a few game trails that get used with varying frequency and are anywhere between entirely to impossibly navigable depending on the season. Though guidelines are for dogs to be on-leash, it's far more common to encounter them off-leash... that said, I've hiked/run thousands of miles in this park and never had a negative dog encounter.


This is a small portion of the circuitous trail system at Hickory Hill Park. It begins in the parking lot at the end of Bloomington Street.

Jump on the trail and pass a small pavilion (with park information) called the Norton Wayside and cross over a small wooden bridge.

From here, you can go straight or, to run the section in reverse, take a left up the hill. Going straight through a clearing, you'll enter the woods in about 40 meters and start up a gradual uphill. A branch of Ralston Creek is off to the right, and a small oak savanna is off to your left.

At the top of the hill is a three-way intersection. Going straight connects to the dam trail and other sections of the park. For this loop, turn left and continue up a gradual incline until you come to a large boulder. There's a little cut trail before the boulder, or you can continue straight to a four-way intersection. Going right will lead you into additional trails and sections of the park, and straight will take you out of the park and into Oakland Cemetery (home to the famed Black Angel).

To complete this loop, take a left down a steep, rocky, rooty trail. At the bottom, you can take a right back over the wooden bridge to the Bloomington Street parking lot.

Flora & Fauna

Classic Iowa flora/fauna. Lots of song birds, deer, and small mammals.

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