Fort Defiance State Park is a 191 acre park located in Emmet County and sits at an elevation of 1,453 feet. Built by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the Great Depression, the park was opened in 1930 and is open year-round for picknicking, hiking and camping. Fort Defiance State Park is named for the former Fort Defiance which was built to protect a gristmil and sawmill during the Dakota War of 1862. A lodge built to resemble a frontier army outpost is available to rent to large groups for meetings and reunions. There is a picnic pavillion that is open to all visitors on a first come first served basis. The park has a rustic camping area with sixteen camping sites. The trails of the park are open to hiking, horseback riding and cross country skiing. Two of the trails, White Tail Ridge Trail and Spring Trail have recently undergone extensive improvements. The work was completed by students from the Iowa Lakes Community College environmental studies program which included covering the trails with wood chips to make the trails more “hiker friendly.” White Tail Ridge Trail passes through a wooded area where visitors may encounter some white-tailed deer. The Spring Trails passes through a patch of prairie. (wiki)
The Hartman Reserve Nature Center is located in Cedar Falls, Iowa and is approximately 309 acres large. It is the largest undisturbed wooded area in Black Hawk County, Iowa and is home to three distinct habitats including wetland, forest and prairie. The reserve is dedicated to teaching youth about nature through hands on experiences and preservation. Hartman Reserve was named after John C. Hartman who was the editor for the Waterloo Daily Courier who also was a nature enthusiast and amateur archaeologist. When the YMCA could not raise the money to buy the property, Hartman donated a sizable amount towards the purchase which was enough to have the property bear his name. Hartman Reserve is home to many trails which include paved, unpaved and water trails. There are over 6 miles worth of walking trails with the most notorious of these trails being the American Discovery Trail. All of the water trails lead into the Cedar River, the George With Memorial State Park and the many lakes on the reserve. The walking trails are dispersed throughout the reserve with varying levels of difficulty. During the Winter, snowshoe trails are available that replace the regular walking trails that can be used anyday between sunrise and sunset. The Hartman Reserve trail connects to the larger and more well known American Discovery Trail which is a system of recreational trails and roads that collectively form a coast-to-coast hiking and biking trail across the mid-tier of the United States. Horses can also be riddenon most of this trail which starts on the Delmarva Peninsula on the Atlantic Ocean and ends on the northern California coast on the Pacific Ocean making it a total length of 6,804 miles long.
Dedicated in 1919, Backbone State park is Iowa’s oldest state park. It is named for a narrow and steep ridge of bedrock carved by a loop of the Maquoketa River originally known as the Devil’s Backbone. It is approximately three miles long and was built back in the 1930’s by the Civilian Conservation Corps who constructed a majority of the trails and buildings which make up the park. There are three distinct areas to the park: Area A is called the Cabin-Bathing Area; Area B is the Picknicking, Hiking and Camping Area; and Area C is Richmond Springs. * Area A is located at the southern end of the park and runs around the 125 acre Backbone Lake on the Makoqueta River. Its historic buildings and structures include 17 cabins, pump house, two sets of trail steps, soil erosion dams, six parking areas, paved road, the site of CCC Camp 1756, bathhouse, boathouse, a wall, the beach, a sundial and bench, dam, and the sand filter bed. The lake was created by the dam and spillways back in 1933. * Area B is located near the center of the park and its historic buildings and structures include a picnic/shelter concession, two more picnic shelters, the site of CCC Camp 781, the east entrance entryways and gate, two trailside benches, six parking lots, a vehicle bridge, trail steps and the Backbone trail. * Area C, Richmond Springs is located on the north end of the park and its historic structures include the springs which are a natural feature enclosed by the CCC back in June of 1934. It created a new channel from the area to prevent overflow into the springs. Twenty-one miles of multi-use trails support year-round recreational activities including hiking, cross-country skiing and snowmobiling in winter. The lake is noted for its swimming, boating and fishing. Backbone Creek is known to support a good stock of Rainbow and Brown Trout and is regularly stocked by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. Campsites and rental cabins are available along with shower buildings and a playground for the children. Local wildlife such as fox, turkey and deer can be seen in the park and surrounding area and the Backbone State Forest is immediately adjacent to the park. The forest consists of 186 acres of pine forest. (wiki)
The Clive Greenbelt Trail is an 11.3 mile urban recreational trail that is located in Clive, Iowa and forms part of the Central Iowa Trails network. It is a very busy, curvy, concrete and p
Paved asphalt trail that runs through Polk and Dallas counties in Iowa. The trail begins at 73rd Street and Walnut Creek at the Walmart in Windsor Heights. Hikers are able to access many of the parks, libraries and the aquatic center by way of the many trails which also have mile markers and route directions to help you on your way. The trail meanders along the north bank of Walnut Creek for 5.5 miles to Country Club Blvd. Between the Lake Country Club dam and 142nd Street, the trail is on the street near the northshore of Lake Country Club for 0.75 miles. For the next 1.7 miles the trail travels between 1900 142nd Street and Lions Park which is near Eason Elementary School in Waukee. In western Clive, more trails are being developed north of Hickman Road. Additional links and branches bring the total trail mileage to 11.3 miles. A ll trail hikers are welcome to the many beautiful parks located throughout the city of Clive. You can visit the Greenbelt Park and Trail from neighborhood connection points or from the several trail heads accessible with parking sites for your car. You are welcome to take a stroll, jog, ride your bike or rollerblade and enjoy all the natural scenery that is abundant in the 297 acres of this premier park in the city of Clive.
This park contains more caves than any other state park in Iowa. A trail system links the caves, formations, and overlooks while providing a scenic hiking experience. Many areas on these trails have seen new construction, making the journey to the caves safer. Most of the caves may be entered by persons of average physical ability, but some are more advanced. However the park’s caves were closed to humans between 2010 and April 2012 in the hopes of protecting the resident bats from white nose syndrome.
The park is in the Driftless Area of Iowa. This region escaped being glaciated in the last ice age, while regions to the east and west were not spared. The park has been subjected to hundreds of thousands of years of natural non-glacial erosion.
The park’s caves, limestone formations and rugged bluffs represent a step back in geological time of thousands of years. Stalactites once hung from the ceilings and stalagmites rose from the floor. Souvenir hunters have robbed the caves of this rare beauty, but many formations remain. The park’s limestone caves, arches and chimneys including Dancehall Cave, Hernado’s Hideaway, Shinbone Cave, Wye Cave, and an unmarked cave within the Dancehall Cavern locally known as Steelgate Cave.
A bit of history
Artifacts such as pottery, as well as tools and projectile points made of stone have been found in the caves and surrounding area. These discoveries indicate that the Maquoketa Caves area has been of interest to humans for hundreds, perhaps thousands, of years. Early recorded history tells that the Native Americans in the area were likely visitors to the Raccoon Creek valleys. The first Euro-American explorers first visited the caves as late as the mid-1830s. The area was originally known as Morehead Caves or Burt’s Cave. It had become a popular place for exploration, picnics, parties, and dances by the 1860s. A dance floor was constructed north of Natural Bridge in 1868, and a pavilion, which was used until the 1920s, was built sometime later. By the turn of the 20th century the area had become seriously degraded, and its popularity declined. (wiki)