This Intense Hike Through the Mines Of Spain Is Iowa's Best Kept Secret
This is one of Iowa’s best hiking spots. There are 12 miles of maintained hiking trails, and no requirement that you stay on them. Five individual nature walks are inside the park. You’ll see limestone bluffs, winding logging roads, prairie, forests, and scenic overlooks. If steep and challenging terrain is what you look for in a hike, you’ve found your match at the Mines of Spain in Dubuque.
The Mines of Spain is located at 8991 Bellevue Heights Road, Dubuque.
After your hike, plan to settle in and enjoy a snack or even an entire meal. Just be sure to pack a lot of food. The trails here are exhausting. Picnicking facilities are available at the Horseshoe Bluff area and the Julien Dubuque Monument.
There is no camping in the Mines of Spain, and the park closes at 10:30pm, Monday through Sunday.
The Mines of Spain covers 1432 acres of land. A great portion of this area is wooded and rugged Mississippi River bluffland. You'll see a wide variety of interesting land forms, wildlife, water types, and plant species.
The Julien Dubuque Monument overlooks the banks of the Mississippi river at Catfish Creek.
The park is especially beautiful during the fall. This is Catfish Creek from the stream overpass on Mines of Spain Road.
During the steamboat era from 1865 to 1880, much of the original timber along the Mississippi River was logged.
Parts of this area were left untouched though, leaving Burr Oak trees that are now over 250 years old.
Cross-country ski routes from the south end of the recreation area to the interpretive center are well-maintained, so plan to come back during the winter months, as well.
Dogs on 6-foot leashes are welcome at The Mines of Spain. Leave your bike at home, though. There's no riding allowed on the trails.
One of the most well-reviewed areas of the park is Horseshoe Bluff. This two-mile nature look rewards visitors with a breathtaking view of the Mississippi River from a scenic overlook and a beautiful amphitheater.
There are three levels to Horseshoe Bluff, the last is the most challenging. The view from the top makes the effort worthwhile.
This area has been used for logging, mining, quarrying, cattle grazing, and row cropping since Julien Dubuque arrived in 1785. Portions of the park remain untouched, however.
The Mines of Spain is designated as one of Iowa's "Watchable Wildlife Areas" and bobcat sightings are on record. Flying squirrels, bald eagles, red-shouldered hawks, white-tailed deer, wild turkey, and wide varieties of song birds are part of the natural world, here.
A 15-acre portion of the park is wetland, and two floating trails give visitors a clear view of wildlife.
Ordovician dolomite rock is exposed in this area in the quarry. The Mines of Spain is a region of Iowa rich in history, resources, and geology.
Have you hiked here yet? If not, what are you waiting for?
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