Hiking Season 2017 Begins
April 8, 2017
Sites: , Deer, Rivers, Trails
Hiking season kicked in full gear with temperatures warming in Iowa. Rose and I ventured down to Palisades-Kepler State Park near Mount Vernon, Iowa. To say that the wildlife was active would be an understatement.
Park Background: Palisades Kepler State Park
In the late 1890s, James Sherman Minott acquired 160 acres of timberland on the Cedar River and built a spacious inn for the accommodation of visitors. He also established a boat rental and sold lots for the building of summer cottages. Many people took advantage of this and soon the population of the area numbered over 200. Afternoon outings on the Cedar River, capped by a quiet dinner at the combined log cabin restaurant, general store, and hotel, were common in the early 1900s. Noted American poet Carl Sandburg was a yearly visitor to the “Palisades” during the 1920s and 1930s.
In 1922, Palisades-Kepler State Park was established. Much of Minot’s original land had been acquired and the State Board of Conservation had taken special notice of the unique bold cliffs and proclaimed that “these palisades lining the Cedar River are quite special.” In September of 1928, the Board of Conservation accepted the gift of property from the estate of Louis H. Kepler, essentially doubling the size of the park. The Board added his name to the park name. Since that time, almost 700 acres have been added to Palisades-Kepler.
In July 1934, a Civilian Conservation Corps company was established at Palisades-Kepler. Three barracks and a mess hall were built; then, work started on the building of many park facilities. The roads, hiking trails, entry portals, lodge and other timber and stone structures remain to give the park much of its rustic character. The C.C.C. camp of 200 young men closed in 1941.
Mount Vernon, home of Cornell College, is located 4 miles east of the park. Cedar Rapids and Marion are located 12 miles west of the park. These cities provide a variety of shopping, recreation and church opportunities.
This morning, in addition to 13 bald eagles, there were dozens of large turkey vultures, a handful of yellow breasted woodpeckers, a couple dozen geese, and several deer enjoying the good weather.
One of the adults from this family pulled a stunt I had not seen before – they stood in the path, less than 50 feet from where we were walking, and blocked our path. This was a clear effort to give the family time to get down the hill. We just stood there quietly for five minutes or so, and they all went on with their day. The animals were very active, and it was difficult to get very many quality photographs, but I did take a picture during our brief stand off with this deer.