anyone eager to hike amongst the tranquil surroundings of the park’s ridgetop prairies and shaded woodland valleys. With nearly 2,000 acres of recreational opportunity and quiet beauty, Waubonsie State Park is an Iowa gem waiting to be explored.
Named for Chief Waubonsie of the Native American Pottawattamie tribe, the park is much the same today as it was when it was purchased in 1926. The changing seasons complement the beauty of this countryside. Spring brings the blossoms of dozens of varieties of flowers and shrubs. Summer beckons with cooling breezes on the high places and in shady glens. Nowhere in Iowa are there more brilliant splashes of color than at Waubonsie in the fall, and in the winter the bluffs and ridges are sometimes beautifully blanketed with snow. Several miles of hiking and equestrian trails are available throughout the park.
Hike the Sunset Ridge Nature Trail that traverses the heart of the park, offering sweeping views of the Missouri River Valley. The Ridge and Valley trails also provide ample hiking opportunities, taking visitors through quiet and shaded woodland areas. Eight miles of trails are accessible only to hikers. Another eight miles of multi-use trails wind through the northern regions of Waubonsie and are perfect for anyone in search of challenging hikes, mountain biking, horseback riding or snowmobiling opportunities. The trail to the main overlook is accessible for all ages and abilities.
Blackburn State Park Unit, managed by Waubonsie State Park, is a 72-acre park formed in 2019 from the donation of over 150 acres by William R. (Bill) and Sara Blackburn. The park is at the center of approximately 1,000 acres of preserved public grounds, including the Blackburn and Green Hollow Wildlife Management Areas, which are managed by the Nishnabotna Wildlife Unit of the Iowa DNR.
The unit includes an overlook platform and reservable large picnic shelter. Given the site’s remote location, there is no public water supply, and all garbage must be removed by the visitor. A 20-acre restored prairie graces high ground where native flowers bloom, especially in late spring. Three beautiful stone benches positioned on the ridge offer grand views of the sunset over the woods.
Bring your camera, as there's been reported Sasquatch sightings at this remote and rugged wildlife area!
Eli Slusher has only been open to the public since 2016, but has attracted bird watchers, hikers, mushroom hunters and a growing number of archery deer hunters. Being adjacent to Waubonsie State Park and its campsites, cabins and modern shower and restroom facilities, visitors can totally immerse themselves in Iowa’s outdoors. Timbered draws, prairie ridges, steep hills and deep valleys. Eli Slusher WMA is full of wildlife from the hardy — like deer, turkey and badgers — to the more fragile, like zebra swallowtail butterflies and, quite likely, the state endangered Great Plains skink.
Hiking the Byways is a regular series by Golden Hills RC&D that features publicly accessible lands open to hiking on the three scenic byways in western Iowa that Golden Hills RC&D coordinates: Glacial Trail Scenic Byway, Loess Hills National Scenic Byway, and Western Skies Scenic Byway. Each blog post covers hiking areas in one county on one of the aforementioned byways. For questions about hiking on the byways, contact Seth Brooks (email@example.com).