If you are looking for a place to be soothed by nature while you listen to spring birdsong, you’ll find several excellent options in the Dubuque area. The rugged wooded terrain offers an irresistible landscape for the perfect hiking adventure.
The best time to see native woodland wildflowers is before the tree canopy is fully leafed out. Be sure to show respect for these beauties by admiring them only from afar.
If you have a dog, never upset nesting birds by letting them run off their leash. When you are a good steward while hiking, you help to preserve the outdoor experience for the next person.
1. Mines of Spain Recreation Area: This historic gem of a natural area lies within the city limits, with many different areas for hikers to enjoy. Don’t miss the Julien Dubuque Monument, for a must-see vantage point over the Mississippi River. After you explore the lovely grounds of E.B. Lyons Interpretive Center, take a path downhill toward the old farmstead chapel. As an alternative, meander along Catfish Creek, or take in the breathtaking views of Horseshoe Quarry.
2. Swiss Valley Nature Preserve: This park is tucked between dramatic hillsides a few miles southwest of Dubuque at 13606 Swiss Valley Road, Peosta. Park your car and explore the trails that start at the nature center. If you’re in the mood for a vigorous workout, you’ll find it on the uphill trails. Or follow a path along the creek, where you’ll likely see trout fisherman.
3. Heritage Trail: The 26-mile Heritage Trail runs along a former railroad right-of-way from Dubuque to Dyersville. The crushed limestone path is a favorite of both bicyclists and hikers. The eastern trailhead is at Heritage Pond, just north of Dubuque on Highway 52. The pond is stocked, so you might want to bring your fishing pole. Or bring a pair of binoculars to watch the birds and waterfowl in Sageville Marsh.
Photo source: Photo by Pamela Brandt (author of this article).