Yellow River State Forest – Iowa's BEST Backpacking Loop

Well this trip was a mixed bag…. My wife and I spent two days backpacking Yellow River State Forest, a beautiful section of eastern Iowa just over the Mississippi with over 25 miles of hiking trails.

We started on the Forester Trail next to the park’s headquarters, and hiked clockwise around the main backpacking loop. The terrain was a mix of single and double track trails and the occasional gravel road. We originally thought of staying at Heffern’s Hill Camp but ended up hiking a bit further to Brown’s Hollow Camp.

But as gorgeous as it was, I experienced my first run-in with severe dehydration, eventually earning me a brief stint in the hospital upon arriving back home (I’m fine now). It was late June so the weather was hot and humid, and although I thought I had been drinking enough water, the constant sweating must have thrown my electrolytes out of whack. I didn’t address this in the video, but you’ll probably notice me feeling more and more run down as the trip drags on.

Nevertheless it was still a fun time, and I’m looking forward to heading back to Yellow River State Forest in the future to check out the other trails.

– Warbonnet Blackbird:
– Tarptent ProTrail:
– Enlightened Equipment Revolt underquilt:

– Garmin InReach Mini satellite messenger:
– Helinox Chair Zero:
– Six Moon Designs Gatewood Cape tent/poncho:
– Outdoor Research Helium II rain jacket:
– Exped AirMat HL sleeping pad:
– Nitecore NU25 headlamp:
– Columbia Silver Ridge Lite hiking shirt:
– Darn Tough Socks:
– Opsak odor proof food bag:
– Leatherman Squirt PS4 multitool:
– Deuce of Spades trowel:
– Suunto A-10 compass:
– Therm-a-Rest Compressible pillow:
– Sawyer Squeeze water filter:
– CNOC Outdoors Vecto water container:
– Sea to Summit Mosquito Head Net (w/ Insect Shield):
– AcuRite Digital thermometer:
– Outdoor Research Sparkplug Gaiters:
– Anker Powercore II external battery:
– Saramonic SmartMic microphone:
– BOYA BY-M1 lavalier microphone:

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Filmed on a Google Pixel 2 with Edutige EIM-001 external mic
Welcome to my random musings on all things backpacking. If you haven’t already guessed, my name is Dan. I was bit by the backpacking bug in 2014 and since then haven’t gone one day without thinking about my next adventure. I’m from Chicago, a great city but…not so much known for its bountiful backpacking opportunities. Nevertheless, I haven’t let that stop me from enjoying the outdoors. Hope my videos leave you with one or two takeaways, or even better, inspire you to head out on the trail. Thanks for watching! Have fun out there!
– Dan

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  • Just found your channel. How fun. Can't wait to see your next adventures.

  • me and my buddies stayed in the cabin and hiked this at night its a whole different type of feeling doing it at night

  • You do a great job talking about the trail and water conditions! Thank you for the beautiful hike!

  • Wow man! Iowa….I would have never guessed. I really need to get there. Great video!

  • Thank you for putting together and sharing your videos. I just watched the latest one that was posted. It's been awhile since I've hiked @ YRSF. My knees won't let do it any more.

  • What was the trail you took, Dan? I looked up the park on AllTrails but it only shows five or six day hikes, the shortest of which is 2 miles and the longest one is 11 miles.

  • Great to meet you and your wife! #marriedmyhikingpartner
    Loved our Yellow River weekend! Did the loop opposite of you, discovered the crowds at Hefner Hill slogged on and had a peaceful night at Glen Wendell only one other camper off in the distance. Was worth pushing through the 9+ miles for a quiet site.
    Happy trails 🥾

  • Pretty sweet pirate flag there! I love yellow river, up there every weekend i can. Sadly the downfall is the parking lots being close to the backpacking sites which leads to not so serious backpackers or just car campers crowding the spots, Thus i go on Sundays usually when im trying to actually get some good quality backpacking in. P.s I wouldn't drink the water there, Neighboring fields = pesticide filled streams. – Guitar guy 😉

  • I never imagined Iowa would have such elevation! Very nice view on top of the bluff!….I always have to have an empty campsite when I go backcountry camping..I have hiked extra miles just to get an empty camp!

  • Who watches your dumb videos? – I watch your dumb videos! BUT…whilst your friends across the Pond are still restricted and unable to stay outdoors overnight until 4th July at the earliest (bearing in mind we are seeing a resurgence of Covid-19 cases in the UK now) you post not ONE backpacking video (which was cruel), but TWO backpacking videos within a MONTH! This is simply sadistic. Shame on you! Looks like you had a great time tho. I'm envious.

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