Bow hunting for deer and turkey is available at Buck Creek Park and the south side of Motor Mill. Spring turkey bow hunters must register at the Osborne Office before their first hunt. Also in the fall, deer and turkey bow hunters must register at the Osborne Office before their first hunt.
Clayton County Trails
Located at Motor Mill are two trails; one is on the north side of the Turkey River while the other is on the south side. Both are relatively short in length and offer good views from atop the rolling limestone bluffs, with the opportunity to see bald eagles, pileated woodpeckers and deer.
There are three trails located at Osborne Park: the exercise trail, conifer trail, and nature trail. Each trail comes with an interpretive brochure and takes visitors on a nice walk through the forest and along the Volga River. Brochures are located at trailheads and inside the Welcome Center.
Pony Hollow Trail
In 2005 the Clayton County Conservation Board lime-chipped an old railway bed that began in Elkader, Iowa. Today Pony Hollow Trail is used as a hiking, biking, walking, snowmobiling, and horseback-riding path. Along the trail there are three interpretive signs that explain the topography, trees, and wetlands that can be seen throughout the trek. Pony Hollow Trail can be utilized throughout the year and is four miles in one direction with a round trip excursion of 8 miles.
State Owned Trails
Pikes Peak State Park
This park commands a spectacular view of where the Wisconsin River empties into the Mississippi River and offers exceptional hiking trails. More information.
Backbone State Park
South of Strawberry Point and just outside of Clayton County, Backbone offers hikers the opportunity to walk along creek beds and high atop limestone bluffs. Several trails are offered at different skill levels and lengths. More information.
Yellow River State Forest
One of the few areas within the state, Yellow River Forest allows backpackers to take to the trail for an overnight adventure. Be sure to bring a good map, compass and other essentials for your trip. More Information
Bixby State Preserve
Just north of Edgewood lies one of Iowa’s hidden treasures. Nature’s geological features make this one of the most unique and beautiful parks in Northeast Iowa. Bixby State Preserve was formed when R.J. Bixby, a teacher, farmer and legislator, donated 69 acres to the state of Iowa. Today Bixby consists of 184 acres of rugged bluffs, an algific slope, mature hardwood forests and a trout stream. Open for day use only, Bixby Preserve is perfect for a quiet picnic, fishing, hiking, bird watching or just relaxing. Facilities include a Civilian Conservation Corp (CCC) shelter that is uniquely built into a hillside and a primitive restroom.
A rare natural feature called an “Algific Slope” and an ice cave make Bixby a unique and endangered treasure. Now the ice is only visible at the entrance and temperatures around the ice cave stay close to 40 degrees Fahrenheit. At one time, though, ice bulged from the cave. The constant flow of cool moist air has created a micro-ecosystem that is full of rare and/or endangered flora and fauna. This is why Bixby was dedicated as a State Preserve in 1979.
Effigy Mounds National Monument
Walk amongst Native American mounds that date back to 500 B.C. Guided tours are available daily May to October. A visitor’s center is open throughout the year in order to promote understanding of the cultures that once thrived along the Mississippi River. Minimal admission is required. More information.
Clayton County hosts thousands of campers every year. Campgrounds with full amenities are available at many private campgrounds located in the scenic hills of Northeast Iowa. The County Conservation Board campgrounds are all primitive with no “hook ups” provided. Water, restrooms and fire rings are available with a nominal camping fee. For more information on Clayton County Campgrounds and their locations, look under county parks.
Located at Osborne Park is a 50 station, 3D shot archery range. With dirt backstops and closed shots, this archery range is one of Iowa’s finest and makes a wonderful course for young shooters. For more information on the range and shoot dates contact Roger Burns with the Clayton County Archers Club at 563-245-2711.
Canoeing & Kayaking
Northeast Iowa is a great place to canoe and kayak. Located within the Clayton County Conservation Park system are several canoe landings. The listings of parks with access to the Turkey River are as follows: Frieden Park, Turkey River Park, and Motor Mill. Access to the Mississippi River can be attained at Frenchtown Park.
The Volga River can also be utilized during plentiful water flows and can be accessed at Osborne Park and Mederville. Located in Elkader is Turkey River Canoe Rentals, to rent a canoe for a day call 563-245-3802. Rental fees include shuttle drop off and pick up. For more information on canoeing in Iowa call the Clayton County Conservation Board at 563-245-1516.
Trout streams are plentiful in Northeast Iowa and are stocked often by the IDNR. Big Spring Trout Hatchery,located north of Elkader, is open year round to individuals interested in learning about trout. Anglers that visit Bloody Run, Buck Creek, or Joy Springs trout streams will have the opportunity to catch rainbow, brook, or brown trout. Along with trout, rivers such as the Turkey, Volga, and Mississippi are filled with catfish, bluegill, bass and crappie. And don’t forget the Osborne Pond located next to the Osborne Center on Highway 13!
Cross-country skiing, sledding, snowshoeing, ice fishing and snowmobiling are just a few of the winter activities found on the trails and ponds of Clayton County Parks. Groomed cross-country ski trails, the ice fishing pond and sledding hills are found at Osborne Park. Pony Hollow Trail is part of the Clayton County Snowbirds trail system and is utilized throughout the winter by snowmobiling enthusiasts. Whatever winter activity you choose, Clayton County Parks are sure to offer a winter wonderland.
Any bird enthusiast is sure to enjoy the rolling hills and great rivers of Clayton County, Iowa. Located within the county are several Important Bird Areas, where birds such as the American woodcock, cerulean warbler, and red-shouldered hawk nest.