|Photo courtesy of Iowa Department of Natural Resources.|
The Iowa Department of Natural Resources has events planned at Walnut Woods, near Des Moines, Dolliver in Webster County and Mines of Spain near Dubuque. Participants should dress for the weather and may want to bring binoculars, a camera and a water bottle. Contact the park for more details.
Hikers can expect to be surrounded by the quiet beauty of nature in winter, with views and vistas unimpeded by foliage. Watch for bald eagles overhead, and keep an eye out for deer sightings, wild turkey, squirrels and numerous songbirds.
Walnut Woods will host a two- to three-mile hike, with shorter options available. Hikers will travel through popular birding areas in the Raccoon River valley. Participants should meet at the lodge at 9 a.m. Dogs are welcome, but must be kept on a leash. Snowshoers or skiers are welcome, if the conditions allow. Hot chocolate will be provided following the hike.
Dolliver will host a half-mile hike beginning at 1 p.m. Scenic views of the Des Moines River and its sandstone bluffs can be expected. Participants should meet at the south lodge.
The hike at the Mines of Spain begins at 1 p.m. from the E. B. Lyons Interpretive Center. Participants should plan to arrive one-half hour early to register and may have the chance to see Iowa’s largest woodpecker―the pileated―standing almost 12 inches tall. Cocoa, coffee and refreshments will be available for all participants. The centers exhibits and displays will be open for viewing.
Kevin Szcodronski, Iowa Depatment of Natural Resources State Parks Bureau