Top Things to Do in Decorah

This October finally arrived with more chill in the air than anticipated! The lows were getting down to below freezing levels on some nights, but that did not stop us from having one last leaf-peeping camping trip! We headed down to Decorah, IA with Maggie to meet in the middle between three different friend groups and kick off this Halloween month right. Besides getting to see a handful of Bald Eagles soaring above, here are the top things to do in Decorah!

Pulpit Rock Campground

From the Twin Cities it takes about 2.5 hours to reach Decorah. We camped at Pulpit Rock Campground, which is a combo RV/tent space. Located just off of highway 52 it has a great location, but you can hear pretty constant traffic. The campground itself has nice facilities, including a basketball court and sand volleyball court. We recommend, if tenting, to get as close to the river as possible to make your time more memorable here. You’ll be further away from the RVs and center of the camp.

We stayed at Pulpit Rock Campground!

There’s our campsite!

We stayed at Pulpit Rock Campground!

There’s our campsite!

Malanaphy Springs Trail

Our first day of hiking began with the nearby Malanaphy Springs Trail. This is an easy ~2 mile out and back path that parallels the Upper Iowa River the whole way. You end up at a beautiful open area to explore with an awesome spring creek/waterfall directly in the middle.

Hiking Malanaphy Springs Trail

We made it to the springs!

Exploring the surrounding area near the springs!

Hiking Malanaphy Springs Trail

We made it to the springs!

Exploring the surrounding area near the springs!

Twin Springs Park Trail

The following hike we could actually access from our campground via the Twin Springs Rd underpass at highway 52. You will follow the road for a while heading west and then reach Twin Springs Park! The loop trail within this park is only about 1 mile long and it begins/ends at the origin of the springs! The water is so clear that we wanted to jump in, but we knew it’d be freezing.

Having fun on the Twin Springs Park Trail!

Checking out the colors!

View of the crystal clear Twin Springs!

Having fun on the Twin Springs Park Trail!

Checking out the colors!

View of the crystal clear Twin Springs!

Pulpit Rock Trail

After lunch, more of our group arrived and joined us on the next hike- Pulpit Rock Trail. As you may have just guessed, this is where the campground gets its name, and it is accessible from the campground. The hike itself is maybe 0.5-0.75 miles long and involves climbing some stairs. Once at the top though, you are greeted with a great view of the surrounding area and the famous Pulpit Rock!

The Pulpit Rock!

Climbing up to the Pulpit Rock Trail viewpoint!

View from the top!

The Pulpit Rock!

Climbing up to the Pulpit Rock Trail viewpoint!

View from the top!

Phelps Park Trail

Heading back down south through our campground, we decided to do one last hike for the day before settling in at our campsites. We cut east on Oneota Dr which eventually led us onto the hike/bike trail running through Phelps Park. Within this park the trail is ~1 mile and provides some fantastic views. You end up reaching the outskirts of town at the end, which led us to our final stop of the day.

Heading into Phelps Park!

Making our way into town!

Heading into Phelps Park!

Making our way into town!

Pulpit Rock Brewing Co

As we walked up College St to 5th Ave, we took a break at the intersection at Pulpit Rock Brewing Co. Right now, they are only doing patio seating and serving the beer in cans, but it was full! Their menu mostly consisted of sours and coffee style brews, so we did not have high praise for this spot. Upon returning to camp the whole group had arrived. We started the fire for making dinner and took the rest of daylight to play Spikeball!

Pulpit Rock Brewing Co!

Dunning’s Springs Park & Ice Cave Hill Park

Saturday morning was cold, but we got our bodies moving quickly to warm up! We strolled back past the Pulpit Rock Brewing Co to go down Ice Cave Rd and hit Dunning’s Springs Park. Immediately upon entering the park you are hit with a beautiful cascading waterfall. Facing the waterfall, if you take the trail on the right-hand side, you’ll be on Upper Ice Cave Hill Trail. This was about 2 miles and featured some good elevation changes. Easily our favorite section of hiking this weekend. This trail eventually connects to Ice Cave Hill Park, where we descended on trails back down to Quarry Hill Rd and across the bridge towards town.

Dunning’s Springs Park!

Where you immediately discover this waterfall!

View of Decorah from the Upper Ice Cave Hill Trail!

Dunning’s Springs Park!

Where you immediately discover this waterfall!

View of Decorah from the Upper Ice Cave Hill Trail!

Trout Run Trail

Following this side trek, we hopped onto the 11-mile Trout Run Trail! This loop totally encircles the town and really gives you an appreciation for the area. There’s some elevated forest hiking and there’s some flat city walking. Multiple highlights along the way include great overlook points, passing a cow farm too closely, checking out the Decorah Eagle’s nest, and seeing the Iowa DNR Trout Hatchery at Siewer Springs! The path crosses the river five times, and you’ll see plenty of fly fishing.

Welcome to Trout Run Trail!

Passing the Iowa DNR Trout Hatchery!

Plenty of rolling hills around Decorah!

And we finally came across the Decorah sign!

Welcome to Trout Run Trail!

Passing the Iowa DNR Trout Hatchery!

Plenty of rolling hills around Decorah!

And we finally came across the Decorah sign!

Toppling Goliath Brewing Co

At the back end of the afternoon, we finally made it to our campsites. Just in time to drive ~10 minutes east on highway 9 to Toppling Goliath Brewing Co, where we had scheduled a brewery tour! It’s definitely your standard beer tour, but you do get a beer and commemorative glass out of it. The brewery space itself is awesome and has tons of room to expand when it wants. It reminded us a lot of a slightly smaller Surly Brewhall. We had dinner here too and everything looked good- in particular, the pizzas, sandwiches, and burgers. But the beer steals the show. Our favorites: Pompeii, Nitro Mornin’ Latte Imperial Coffee Milk Stout, and the Intergalactic Warrior.

Last stop- Toppling Goliath Brewing Co!

Check out their brew hall!

Our first of many flights!

Last stop- Toppling Goliath Brewing Co!

Check out their brew hall!

Our first of many flights!

Yet another quick, but fun-filled camping adventure in the books! We appreciated all Decorah had to offer! We’d definitely check out the heart of town more if we return, or the campus of Luther College. Heck, we could even head to a Luther football game!

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