By Teri Stickler, Let’s Move Quad Cities Outdoor Blogger and her Samoyed, Kaia
One of the Quad Cities’ local state parks is Wildcat Den, just south of Davenport, IA. Open all year, it’s a perfect destination for both two-legged and four-legged friends who need a whiff of nature in early springtime.
This beautiful park has much to offer, and yet it seems many have never been there or even heard of it. The park is situated about 10 miles northeast of Muscatine, Iowa and is only a 40-minute drive from the Quad Cities. They say that one of the best times to go is in the fall as it offers a treat for the eye when the leaves are turning, but Kaia and I suggest that any season is the right time to go, get out and enjoy.
Something for everyone
There’s something here for every interest and any age. Wildcat Den has a wonderful trail system with 6 or more well maintained hiking trails ranging in length and difficulty from 0.3 miles to 1.7 miles, winding through wooded areas and along the sandstone bluffs overlooking Pine Creek. The area is also rich in history. There is the Pine Creek Grist Mill, built in 1848. It is available for tours.
The Melpine schoolhouse and Old Stone Church are also near the mill. Sometimes a fisherman or two can be seen trying their luck in the waters near the Grist Mill Falls.
The park has two shelters that can also be reserved as well as primitive camping sites including a youth group site. Click here to learn more.
Kaia and I like to start our day at the parking lot nearest the Devil’s Punch Bowl trail and Fat Man’s Squeeze. From there we work our way to the canyon and Steamboat Rock. Thinking back and remembering as a child, just seeing these areas brought thoughts of Mesa Verde, Colorado, and the Anasazi cliff dwellings. Of course, there is no comparison, but from a young person’s perspective, so it seemed.
Today’s walk was early enough in the season that the trails were still icy in spots. We did only a portion of the Punch Bowl Trail and the Campground Trail before changing plans and heading to the area by the Grist Mill, historic bridge, and Pine Creek. With less tree cover, the snow had melted making walking much easier.
We explored the area around the mill, walked the old bridge, and stopped by the one-room school and Old Stone Church. This area also has some picnic tables. A good spot for lunch.
One day is never enough at this park. Our plan is to come back again several times. The forest floor will soon burst with greenery. Wildflowers will abound and ice crampons will not be necessary.
Pictures from Kaia and Teri’s hike at Wildcat Den
|Meet Teri Stickler. Teri is a retired Quad-City teacher. She thoroughly enjoys the out-of-doors, sharing most of her adventures with her Samoyed companion, Kaia.|
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