2.0 miles
170 feet

dogs on leash



nature trips





wild flowers




old growth

over grown



Saturday, May 06, 2017

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.