Description - Pilot Knob State Park is one of the oldest units in the state park system. It was dedicated in 1923. Standing atop the tower on "Pilot Knob," the second highest point in Iowa, visitors have a spectacular view. From the tower built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s, one can see great expanses of some of the most fertile farmland in the world. After glaciers leveled the prairies of north-central Iowa, they deposited the rocks and earth that formed the hills and valleys that are now Pilot Knob. In earlier times, pioneers used the Pilot Knob as a guide as they traveled west in covered wagons, thus giving the park its name. An open air amphitheater, constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s, is surrounded by scenic woods.
Two open picnic shelters are available on a reservation basis through the park ranger for a fee. Picnic tables and fireplaces are plentiful in pleasantly shaded areas.
There are 60 campsites (48 with electrical hookups), modern showers, rest room facilities and a trailer dump station. A playground is located near the campground. Camping permits are obtained by self-registration at the campground.
The park has excellent trails for hikers and horseback riders. In winter, a warming house with electricity and heat provides comfort for ice skaters, snowmobilers, cross-country skiers and ice fishermen.
Hidden within the 700-acre park and enclosed by abrupt banks is Dead Man's Lake, a four-acre floating sphagnum bog, the only one of its kind in Iowa. This is a botanist's delight, bordered by native trees, shrubs and flowering plants. Waterfowl feed and breed in the tall grasses. Three species of pond lilies grow here, one found nowhere else in Iowa. Trees native to the Pilot Knob area include walnut, ash, basswood, wild cherry, burr oak, aspen, white oak and red oak. Pilot Knob's natural features are so significant, the majority of the park has been dedicated as a state preserve.
A scenic 15-acre, man-made lake offers fishing and boating with the use of electric motors only. It is also a popular site for ice skating.
The Pilot Knob Recreation Area, just north of Pilot Knob State Park is available for public hunting, hiking, snowmobiling and other activities.
Forest City is four miles from the park