Folsom Point Preserve protects one of the largest remaining contiguous prairie remnants in the southern Loess Hills. Purchased in 1999, the prairie provides a valuable habitat for grassland animals, particularly in an area where the prairie community has largely disappeared. The terrain is quite rugged with steep slopes. The preserve is used for research by local students; visitors should avoid flags and other markers.
There are no official trails at the preserve but there are several well-traveled footpaths that lead up to and along the ridges, allowing sweeping views of the Missouri River floodplain and the Loess Hills. The nearby factories, however, degrade the view from the ridges. A hike at Folsom Point is still enjoyable, as it is much less frequented than Hitchcock Nature Center yet about the same driving distance from the Omaha/Council Bluffs metro.
This is the second largest park within the Mills County Conservation Board’s park system. It consists of forest, numerous hilltop prairie remnants, 7-acres of restored prairie, and well over 3 miles of hiking trails.
Being nestled in the west side of Iowa’s beautiful Loess Hills, the park provides a spectacular view overlooking the Missouri River floodplain. West Oak Forest is inhabited by many threatened and endangered species of the Loess Hills, including the Yucca Moth, Western Spadefoot Toad, Ottoe Skipper, Northern Grasshopper Mouse, and various others.. The topography of the property is very steep with corrugated hills and the highest point being 1,100 feet above sea level. Heavily forested with upland hardwoods including bur oak, red oak, ironwood, basswood, scattered black walnut and shagbark hickory.
Pony Creek is located along the Loess Hills Scenic Byway. Pony Creek Park is a National Historic Landmark. The Davis Oriole earth lodge site is located here. To protect the archaeological integrity of the site, it is not specifically marked.
Mile Hill Lake consists of a hardwood forest, which is open to public hunting, and a 10-acre fishing lake with boat dock and ramp. When driving into the park you will find an interpretive panel discussing the prehistoric culture that lived in this region, and the handicap accessible Scenic Overlook, which offers an interpretive panel discussing the Loess Hills Scenic Byway. You will also see a2 acre restored prairie, and several flowerbeds which are maintained by the Mills County Co-Horts. There are various hiking trails within the park, including the most recent addition that leads through a marsh area, with a newly installed footbridge.
The preserve is a low impact recreation area, meaning that no public activity can impair the integrity of the site. The site hosts multi-use trails ready for running, hiking, biking and wildlife observation. Aside from the archaeological sites within the property, one can also find forest, oak savanna, native prairie, restored prairie and agricultural grounds on the site.
There are 107 recorded archaeological sites in the Glenwood Archaeological State Preserve, ranging from about 10,000 years in age to the early Euro-American settlement era, 150 years ago. Most significant are 27 earth lodge sites in the preserve that are related to the Glenwood Culture, also known as the Nebraska phase of the Central Plains tradition. Only a small fraction of the preserve has been archaeologically surveyed, so many more sites probably exist in the preserve.
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org).
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