Little Maquoketa River Mounds State Preserve (PHOTOS)
My wife and I love getting the kids out of the house for some adventuring and this is the perfect time of year to get in some hiking. Not too hot, not too cold. My wife uses this nifty little ap called AllTrails when we head out on a hike to track all the details, but it also helps us discover hidden gems just like the one we visited this weekend.
As a part of the drift-less area of Iowa, high above on the top of a limestone ridge, overlooking the Little Maquoketa River just north of Dubuque on Highway 52, there is a 41 acre preserve that features 32 ancient burial mounds. The area also features a mature forest containing numerous wildflowers and a small remnant of native blufftop prairie. This area was purchased by the Iowa DOT in 1980, and is now managed by the Dubuque County Conservation Board.
We followed the well kept trail up the 200-foot steep bluff to the fenced in and protected Indian Mounds at the top. According to the website; the mounds range from 13 to 42 feet across and 6.5 to 50 feet high. An interesting detail about this site, during its construction over 15 Native American tribes were consulted in its development.
The mounded area naturally opens up, letting in warm sunlight and a beautiful blue sky. Mound building by Native American tribes involved ceremonial activities usually associated with burials/funerals. Places like these are considered sacred and essential for future generations to connect with their generational history.
There was some tree damage to the fence protecting the mounds. Falling trees have bent and misplaced some panels.
The area also boasts a beautiful overlook; that I'm convinced will be stunning once the trees start to turn. This place now warrants a second visit as the leaves begin to fall.
The area is easily accessible to most, but is definitely NOT handicap accessible due to the stairs. The entrance kiosk is full of information on the area. We're informed that this site is a classic example of a place to observe "stream piracy" and the route that took the Little Maquoketa River from its original bed in to a shorter more direct route to the Mississippi River. The area is also considered one of the most well-preserved mound groups in the entire state. This is a great place to check out for a small 30-ish minute hike as it's also surrounded by other awesome local out door activities including the Proving Grounds area (which I will cover later) and the Heritage Pond/Trail Area.
There is so much to see and do outside! Check out another one of my adventures before we're all stuck inside for winter!