If you go to school in the Quad Cities, you can understand the pain of finding activities to do on a lazy afternoon or nice weekend. Being a college student, more often than not we are broke and survive day by day on last month's work study check. Because of this, us college students are always down for something that is free, am I right? Now that the weather is getting warmer, we all just want to get outside to enjoy it.

Well, I took it upon myself to find the five best hiking spots near the Quad Cities. Now I know what you're thinking, "How can there be good hiking places near Iowa?? We live in a farmville." You're right.

HOWEVER, there are multiple state parks and historical sites that can offer us trails as good as those in the Rockies. Ok, maybe not as good as Colorado but close enough right? Here is a list of the best spots for hiking near the Quad Cities. 

1. Black Hawk State Historic Site

This cute park is located in Rock Island, IL. That's right, St. Ambrose peeps, you just need to hop across the river and you're there. Black Hawk Historic Site is a quick 13-minute drive away from campus and consists of six miles of trails.

While these trails are considered moderate difficulty, a lot of the area is great for picnics or strolls. My advice? Gather your friends and go for a spontaneous picnic across the river. With Spring upon us, the greenery is sure to be lively over there.

2. Wildcat Den State Park

Located in Muscatine, IA this park offers awesome scenery which include 75 foot cliffs. This park is full of history and is presented throughout the trails. One of the best historic sites in the whole place is the Pine Creek Grist Mill.

This mill is located right up against Pine Creek and has been there since 1848 when it was built by one of the original settlers of Muscatine. How cool is that? Wildcat Den is a mini road trip with a total of a 29-minute driving time. Grab a car full of friends and head on over there. 

3. Maquoketa Caves State Park

That's right. Iowa has friken CAVES. Who knew? Located in Maquoketa, IA this is a bit of a bigger road trip than the rest because it's a total of 47 minutes. However, this six mile trail totally makes up for the driving time.

The state park has several caves located on its grounds and you can actually walk/crawl in them. Yeah sometimes you have to crawl, but hey, it's all part of the adventure. I definitely recommend taking old shoes and clothes you don't mind getting dirty because if you go in the caves, it's going to get messy. 

4. and 5. Starved Rock State Park and Matthiessen State Park

I put these two parks together because they are right next to each other. Both of these parks are located in Oglesby, IL which is approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes away. I know I said these hiking spots would be near the Quad Cities, but guys, these are my two FAVORITE parks ever.

First off, they are huge and they offer the coolest waterfalls to see. I honestly didn't know something so cool existed in Illinois. Fun fact: Matthiessen offers a six mile trail for cross-country skiing in the winter.

Weekend getaway: Starved Rock provides cabins to stay in that are located right in the park. Grab a ton of friends and head up there for a weekend and plan on staying the night. If you split the cost of a cabin and gas between 7-8 people you won't end up spending much individually. This is a great way to get you off campus and have some bonding time with your friends. 

As you can see, there is a lot more to do around the Quad Cities than you originally thought. What I like about these places is 1. it's free 2. you're getting exercise and 3. you're bonding with your friends. Don't get me wrong, you could totally go to these places on your own but I suggest taking your BFFs. I am a long time lover of long car rides because they grow your friendships and when you pair that with an awesome hike, you are set. So grab those friends, tennis shoes and a bottle of water and check out these spots for hiking near the Quad Cities.