Paddle or Float? Your Choice on the Iowa River Water Trail
By Kerri Sorell, Summer 2014 Magazine
The Iowa River has long been a destination for paddlers and water enthusiasts, perfect for a serene trip through one of Iowa's most naturally rich areas. There isn't much to distract you from native species and ancient geological treasures along the Iowa River Water Trail, a 72-mile route from Iowa City to the Mississippi River.
It's a quiet trip. The stretch is unique for many reasons: It has no dams, making it easy to navigate; the sand and rock bars along the way are sprinkled with fossils thousands of years in the making, just waiting for paddlers to discover them; and the water trail ends near several national wildlife refuges — perfect for birders and wildlife watchers.
When the trail makes its way through Louisa County, it flows through 8,000 acres of protected public wildlife habitat rich with viewing and hunting opportunities. Indian Slough, one such complex, includes 1,100 acres of wetland and prairie, buzzing with songbirds, waterfowl and chorus frogs. The site also features over five miles of rock and mowed trails (open for horses from May through September). Near the end of the trail, close to the confluence with the Mississippi River, the Toolesboro Mounds and Museum offer a look into the past with remnants of Hopewellian mounds and an education center.
Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation has had a part in helping to protect 28 sites totaling 7,500 acres along the Iowa River Water Trail, including 958 acres at Indian Slough. Protection is vital to creating a water corridor safe for natural habitats, recreation and the
water quality of the region.