Locks & Dam 14 - Smith's Island Recreation Area is a 3.2 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Pleasant Valley, Iowa that features a river and is good for all skill levels. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from March until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.
dogs on leash
This is a unique, easy trail that is perfect for families. The hike is flat, and well-maintained. The nature trail itself is just one mile long, but the walk to and from the trail adds an additional mile or more (along a paved path). You will park in a large gravel lot next to the Mississippi River. This is a popular spot for birdwatchers, photographers, and people fishing. In the winter you will see eagles and for parts of the year the pelicans are plentiful. In the morning and evening hours you may encounter a Great Blue Heron or a Belted Kingfisher. You will walk along the river and will cross a pedestrian pathway that is part of the minor lock system (this smaller lock is used for recreational boats). On the other side of the lock you will follow the paved road for about a quarter of a mile until you reach the narrow land bridge that takes you towards the island. After crossing a small footbridge you will continue a few yards until you see the sign for the nature trail (see photos). The nature trail is a loop of about a mile. On the southern half of the loop you will have views of the marsh and its wildlife. At the eastern end of the loop stands the remains of the old house. The northern side of the loop shows the healthy populations of oak, maple, and walnut trees. For more information on Smith's Island, visit the Army Corps of Engineers Website and search for Smith's Island.
This is an easy but unique trail. Nestled among the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers work site sits this little gem of nature. We visit here often because it is near our home. The trail is perfect for a nice walk. It takes us less than an hour. We routinely see many types of birds, but rarely see any other wildlife. This is a fun trail for all seasons.