|Archeological State Preserve|
From the reading I've done to date, this area encompasses over 900 acres of stunning, rolling, SW Iowa open space. In Iowa, I've discovered that there seems to be a non-profit in place for anything & everything related to any existing open space. This area is no exception - the Loess Hills Archaeological Interpretative Center is the non-profit with a BOD in place - for this yet to be realized project.
|Stand for the interpretative signage~|
The State Department of Transportation shows maps for bicycle riders on their website. The Iowa Department of Natural Resources is the agency that controls who has the right to use the states public lands. From what I've been told - in recent years - areas used by Equestrians have been closed. I've asked for clarification as to the part of the Wabash Trail open to horsemen - so far without receiving a response.
Reading the signage above, it's saddening to see what happened to the state's ground cover from the mid-1800's to the early 2000's. Prairie's & Savana's disappearing against the advent of ever advancing cropland. When I was young, co-op farming was just appearing - small family farms being bought up by large commercial investors.
Site integrity & erosion issues are the most often cited as the reason Equestrian use is not allowed. Soils here are indeed much different even from those of WA state - where I am the most familiar with trail issues. Here though - trail damage caused by bicycle use is something I've not heard or seen mentioned as an issue.
I wish I'd taken photos the last time I was at Capitol Forest, WA of the damage done there by bikes. (Here's a link showing erosion damage.) In more recent years, that forest has undergone many changes. Much of what was originally designated for Equestrian's have now become mixed-use or no longer maintained for horses. This at the same time bicycle presence has dramatically increased. Even so, there's now a large volunteer effort, spearheaded by the local Back Country Horsemen Chapter in place. The Capitol Riders do everything possible to mitigate the heavy use that the ever increasing population has caused.
|Beautiful arched bridge~|
There was no map of the trails & with two choices, one going due east & the other south over this bridge, we took the bridge :-)
|This trail climbed~|
I was very glad we did! After crossing the creek, the trail climbed a way before turning to the east. The undergrowth is pretty heavy, brush, fallen limbs from trees, plants I took to be invasive etc. But - in a spot I will not disclose - my eye caught the glimmer of white!
|Erythronium albidum - White Trout Lily|
|Grouping of Trout Lilys~|
|Huge beautiful - yet to be identified tree~|
|Dry grasses against a rapidly appearing clouds~|
|View of Glenwood to the West~|
|End of State Preserve~|
|Two of the four picnic shelters~|
|Dicentra cucullaria - Dutchman's breeches|