This week I led a Hike It Baby hike exploring somewhere brand new to us – Guye Woods County Park near Winterset, Iowa! I was intrigued by the 100 foot suspension bridge and lack of “groomed trails” but pleasantly surprised to find that there were plenty of places to walk without needing a machete. We got pretty muddy and my kids took great delight in the swinging bridge so we will definitely be back.
It is easy to drive by and miss it depending on which direction you’re headed from, but there is a small parking lot and you can see the bridge from the road.
Apparently Margaret Guye was a nature lover too! What a cool story to have on the rock outside.
The way up had very wide, daunting steps and the other side had a semi-dilapidated ramp down. My 4 year old had no issues but my 2 year old was a little nervous. I definitely would not come here if you or anyone with you has mobility issues.
The trails started out pretty clear and flat, slowly weaving up the hill at a steeper incline. There was a fair amount of mud but nothing unsafe. The higher we went the drier the trails, but also the less well defined.
There were lots of fallen logs and decaying undergrowth that my kids loved digging through and investigating.
The older kids all had a blast accelerating the demise of a crumbly tree stump.
I liked seeing this log on the ground, I’m guessing a woodpecker once used it as a home? It was fun watching the kids try and fit their hands in there and guess what might have lived inside.
Other fun findings were a giant millipede, large centipede, and then some wildflowers (large lilac colored was a dogtooth violet or trout lily, yellow is a swamp buttercup I think, and purple is blue phlox). There weren’t as many wildflowers as I expected given that it’s such an untouched area, but there were plenty to see. On a less pretty note, we also found blood scattered along the trail and saw a tree stand; it is clearly used as a public hunting area as well.
My kids’ favorite part was the bridge, which definitely made me nervous! Bridges are bad enough without adding in swinging. After crossing, they took great delight in splashing through the mud puddle in the parking lot and made a delightful mess so we will surely be back to explore some other time.