Sacred Space The mounds preserved here are considered sacred by many Americans, especially the Monument's 12 affiliated American Indian tribes. A visit offers opportunities to contemplate the meanings of the mounds and the people who built them. The 200 plus American Indian mounds are located in one of the most picturesque sections of the Upper Mississippi River Valley. Open sunrise to sunset, weather permitting.
Some of Iowa's best hiking trails. Amazing views of the Mississippi River. Well-maintained trails that are well marked. there are two sections of trails. The north section starts at the visitor center. the trailhead for the South section is a short drive down the road from The Visitor Center. a nice Visitor Center that is staffed with a park ranger. It's a small Museum that gives the history of the Indian mounds. There are nice indoor bathrooms and a fountain for filling up water bottles inside the visitor center. it's a moderately strenuous hike up the bluff to get to the Indian mounds on either section. Pets are allowed but must be leashed. I would definitely go again.
Their information center/gift shop lady was very informative and sweet. I wish we would have gone in before the hike:) we did get some great souvenirs & made a donation to the mounds (beautiful place that if your able to they have a box in there to do so but they don't pressure you to). The beginning of the trail is brutal, lol! There are benches for those of us who didn't stay in shape over the winter;) once you make it to the top WOW! The view is breathtaking! We even saw a group of wild turkeys!!! The mounds have signs so you can read about what you are seeing and the trees and plants of importance to the area are marked:) great for the family:)
Having first discovered this National Monument on our way out the the Badlands in 2013, my wife I have been back several times in the last year. We hiked all 12.5 miles as a magnificent day-hike during the height of color in the driftless region last Fall. As noted the 12.5 miles covers trails for both the north and south units, which due to the rolling hills that come up in the last mile to Hanging Rock and again headed up to the south unit's mound groups it offered an unexpected challenge in places.
I also came back again in Feb of this year and hiked Hanging Rock at about 2 degrees to 25 degrees with 24" of snow on the ground. Luckily others and the deer had stamped down a lot of trail. Though I still broke trail for about 1/4 mile to Third Senic View I was rewarded by being the only one out on the trail that day, and got to see a frozen-over Mississippi River. These trails and others nearby have been an easy weekender from Chicago that have proven well worth the drive.
The first half-mile of the north trail offers a relatively steep vertical climb. Beyond that the trail levels off and follows gently rolling hills for approximately four miles (out) offering fantastic views of the Mississippi River. The burial mounds are equally impressive. The staff at the park station are extremely friendly and helpful.
The description is not entirely accurate, in that there are a number of trails at Effigy Mounds. One, my favorite, is the walk to Hanging Rock, about 6-7 miles round trip, out and back. There are beautiful vistas of the Mississippi River, and ancient Indian burial mounds. The second hike, is the trail to the Marching Bear Mounds. The trail head is a bit obscure, but the trail is clear--just get a map. The Indian Mounds, in the shape of Bears and Eagles, are impressive.