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Pilot Knob State Park, IA

Status: Open year round.   Season Dates
Max reservation window: Thu Oct 01 2015   Later Dates


Pilot Knob State Park was dedicated in 1924 and has drawn many visitors to explore its hidden treasures and historical structures. Camping, fishing, hiking, and bird watching are just a few of the activities Pilot Knob provides.

The Civilian Conservation Corps constructed several structures in 1934. The entrance portals, stone shelter, three stone bridges, amphitheater and observation tower are all listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The amphitheater will seat 1,000 and is a beautiful area where many couples choose to have their weddings. The observation tower is the second highest point in Iowa at 1,450 feet above sea level. It is 30 feet tall and was supposed to be 40 feet tall but winter set in and the CCC had to stop construction. Pilot Knob is listed in the Iowa Wildlife Viewing Guide. The park is a wonderful area for bird watching, particularly during migrations. Deer and turkeys are prevalent and readily seen. Turkeys were reintroduced into the area in 1979 and have flourished.Much of the wildlife can be seen while walking the thirteen and one half miles of trail through the park.


The park has excellent trails for hikers and horseback riders. Equestrians can enjoy the eight miles of trail allowed for horseback riding. Winter activities include cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, hiking and snowmobiling. There are no overnight accommodations for equestrian riders.

Hidden within the 700 acre park and enclosed abrupt banks is the Dead Man's Lake, a four acre floating sphagnum bog, the only one of its kind in Iowa. The bog is home to many unique species, one of which is the carnivorous sundew plant. Adjacent to the bog is a four acre lake. Because of its high acidity only specially adapted species can survive in the lake.

Pilot Knob also has a 15 acre lake that has good bass and bluegill fishing. It is a popular spot for ice fishing and ice skating. Electric trolling motors only on the lake.

Recreation Area
The Pilot Knob Recreation Area, just north of Pilot Knob State Park is available for public hunting, hiking, snowmobiling and other activities.


There are electric and non-electric campsites in the campground as well as modern showers, restroom facilities and a trailer dump station. A playground is located near the campground. Two open picnic shelters are available to reserve online.

Nearby Attractions:

Forest City is four miles away from the park.

Services & Amenities:

Within Facility
  • Bird Watching
  • Dump Station
  • Fishing
  • Hiking
  • Horseback Riding
  • Lookout Tower
  • Modern Restroom
  • Mountain Biking
  • Park Office
  • Parking
  • Playground
  • Showers
  • Skiing - Cross Country
  • Toilet, Pit/Vault
  • Trails, Equestrian
  • Trash Dumpster
  • Water Hydrants
  • Wildlife Viewing
Within 10 Miles
  • Fuel, Vehicles
  • Golf
  • Medical Clinic
  • Swimming - Pool
  • Tennis
  • Town
Greater Than 10 Miles
  • Hospital
Alerts and Important Information
There is no equestrian campground at this park. Equestrian activities are day-use only.

Attention Equestrian Riders: State regulations require horses, mules and donkeys being transported interstate (from one state to another) must have a current Certification of Veterinary Inspection (health certificate) and a negative Coggin's test (EIA). This paperwork must accompany the animal into the State of Iowa. Please refer to www.iowaagriculture.gov/animalindustry/horseadmissionregs.asp for more information. This law applies to equestrian camping, day-use and trail riding in any State owned Park or Forest.

Getting There:

GPS Info. (Latitude, Longitude):
43.24889, -93.55722
43°14'56"N, 93°33'26"W

Go 3 miles east of Forest City on Hwy 9. Turn right/south on 205th Ave and go 1 mile to the park entrance.

Contact Information:

Mailing Address:

Pilot Knob State Park
2148 340th Street
Forest City  IA  50436

Phone Number:

Information:  (641) 581 - 4835