Outdoor rec kayak photo.jpg

One of the many you can do at Ada Hayden Heritage Park is kayak on the lake.

As summer break continues and the warm weather seems to be becoming more consistent, many people opt for more outdoor activities. Here are some places and events to consider when planning your next get-together with family or friends.


Iowa State has an outdoor recreation center, from which students can rent equipment ranging from canoes to back-packing tents. To rent the equipment, students must present a valid ISU ID card or be otherwise directly affiliated with the university.

Iowa State students will receive a discounted rate for the equipment, and prices per day are listed on its website.

Chris Bramel, a senior in physics who worked at the outdoor recreation center since Jan. 2017, said they offer weekend and extended trips either in the surrounding area or out-of-state.

“The shorter they are usually closer they are, so the day trips we’ll just go to state parks and things like that,” Bramel said. “Weekend trips we might venture into the further midwest states like Minnesota and places like that. ... We’ll go up to northern Minnesota for hiking usually.”

The trips through the recreation center can range from $29 to $330 depending on where and how long each of them are. Students are asked to register for weekend and extended trips. The outdoor recreation center is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday 5 to 8 p.m.


For students who are interested in hiking in Ames and surrounding areas, McFarland Park is located in North Ames toward Story City and offers a variety of outdoor activities from outdoor hiking to kayaking. The park has a 5.5 mile trail which is open to visitors to hike or bike, but cyclists are limited to off-road biking.

There is also a 6.5 acre lake, in which swimming is prohibited, but fishing, canoeing and kayaking are allowed. The “Touch-a-Life” trail leads straight to the lake through woodlands, prairies and ponds. There are also handicap-accessible areas for fishing and picnics.

For an area in Boone, Bramel said Ledges State Park would be a good area to go hiking or backpacking, while Ada Hayden would be a popular area for water activities such as kayaking.

“There’s a lot of cool parks here. Ledges is a huge area that people go and hang out recreationally — good hiking spot. ... If you want to get onto the water, Ada Hayden is really cool,” Bramel said.

Ada Hayden is located on Grand Avenue and also offers a variety of trails. The shortest one, Crushed Rock Upland Trail, is 1.2 miles, while the “Figure 8” is 3.2 miles long.

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