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The family and I took a day trip from Newton, IA up to the Sac & Fox Overlook, along the way we found some great picnicking (pull-off) spots that are great for the whole family. This post is your one-stop guide to three peaceful picnicking spots in Hardin County (located in central Iowa).
First up: The historic Sac & Fox Overlook.
Located just a mile north of Steamboat rock, this family-friendly overlook is full of space to play, history, and gorgeous views of the Iowa River Greenbelt and the U.S. 20 Bridge. The overlook is equipped with a large pavilion, multiple benches, green space, and viewing binoculars. Even in the summer this site was beautiful and is most likely even more stunning in the fall. If you are lucky, you may even see some bald eagles! The entrance to the overlook is well-marked and the road leading in was well maintained (even after heavy rain). Pictures of the overlook, associated area, and history are shown below:
Next up, Wildcat Cave
This spot is great for a short hike, cave seeing, or picnicking. The entrance to the Wildcat Cave Access is well marked and includes a pull off parking area (Directions can be found here). After leaving your vehicle it is about a quarter of a mile trek into the wooded area with faint trails leading you to Wildcat Cave. However, the ravine you follow along the way is an excellent spot to enjoy nature and set up a little picnic. While in the ravine, you can spot all sorts of wildlife and enjoy playing around on the large boulders that surround you. In addition, you can hike another quarter mile or so inland and experience Wildcat Cave. Pictures of the ravine and wooded area are below (we could not make it to the cave due to recent heavy rainfall):
Finally, Pine Lake State Park (just before the campground)
The last pull-off spot we visited was situated right on the road leading into the Pine Lake State Park campground. This spot featured a couple of benches, and a cement building for protection from the elements. From this outcropping you had a front seat view of the Iowa River. This spot is great for the whole family…just make sure not to fall in. Pictures of the Iowa River seen at this location are below:
All in all, these spots are all great for hiking, recreation, and of course picnicking. However you decide to spend your time there, these central Iowa hideaways make a great day trip for the whole family.
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