Red Bird Farm Wildlife Area

MODERATE 4 reviews

Red Bird Farm Wildlife Area is a 2 mile lightly trafficked loop trail located near Iowa City, Iowa that features a lake and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, nature trips, and birding and is best used from March until September.

DISTANCE
2.0 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
223 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Loop

birding

hiking

nature trips

walking

forest

lake

views

wild flowers

wildlife

bugs

muddy

old growth

over grown

scramble

snow

hiking
5 months ago

Yes, it is overgrown and muddy. It is also one of the few places in Johnson County (IA) where you can park and hike into a camp spot of your choosing! For that I recommend the trail that goes north from the parking lot trailhead and hiking through the brief creekside area past an old gate, the lowest pond/boggy area, and up into the prarie setting in front of the line of woods. There are some cut piles of logs if you look for them in the woods surrounding the terraced ponds. Otherwise, there are abundant dead/downed branches and trees if you want to make fire. I also recommend printing out a copy of the Iowa Code that allows camping in Wildlife Management Areas (WMA) if not posted "No Camping." The only signs in the parking lot pertain to "No Target Shooting" and "No Horses." I would leave your vehicle without too many belongings/documents, not because there's a history of theft here but just in case. A random county sheriff will probably notice a sheet in your window that says it's okay for you to camp there and leave you alone.

As for trails, there's more than just a loop. Everything starts and stops in the parking lot, but how you get to/fro is up to you. There are prairie and forest trails; many deer trails in the woods. No signage is present to tell you where you are. I plan on using a GPS app to map the main trails, but as of early May 2017, it's already quite overgrown. There can be hunters who hunker down in tents for who knows what and I've walked up on them unexpectedly -- for both of us. Also, during morel mushroom hunting it can be busy for someone seeking solitude. I've seen a troup of local dogs trotting single file along a trail (there are a few properties that border the Wildlife Area so I'm pretty sure they're domestic) who might not take too kindly to an off leash dog if encountered.

This is one of my go-to spots for a rare "wild" Iowa experience. There are plenty of places to lose yourself and a "quick hike" can turn into a few hours of exploring. I recommend a machete for chopping thorny invasive roses, Goretex boots for swampy conditions, and a camera for numerous wildflowers and wildlife. For the hot humid summer days I recommend cheap rainpants with ventilation for the tall wet and sharp grasses and thorny plants. It's easy to emerge from the woods and prairie trails with lots of scrapes and cuts and multiple ticks.

For such a relatively small area, Redbird Farms offers a lot for someone with open eyes.

6 months ago

Sunday, September 04, 2016

Very overgrown but cool pond with lots of frogs. We'd go back in the spring before all the weeds grow in. Pretty nature.

hiking
Friday, October 10, 2014

Interesting but very natural setting, so "trails" are not marked and open areas often end with no real trail. We trudged for a few hours before we found a path to a frog infested pond (I mean hundreds! It was very cool) and a way into a wooded trail. Unfortunately we ran out of time.