A Little Time and a Keyboard: Short and Scenic: A Hike on Iowa's Smith's Island

Monday, August 30, 2021

Short and Scenic: A Hike on Iowa's Smith's Island

Scenic Views, Nature and History Hiking Along Smith's Island Nature Trail near LeClaire, Iowa

Scenic Views, Nature and History Hiking Along Smith's Island Nature Trail

Smith's Island Nature Trail is a 1.2-mile loop near LeClaire, Iowa. The preserve is owned and managed by the US Corps of Engineers. While approaching the longest, forested portion of the trail, hikers will note views of the Mississippi River and Lock and Dam 14. We learned about Smith's Island while stopping at the Visitor's Center in LeClaire. We are so fortunate that we were directed to this spectacular nature haven!

The Mississippi River at Smith's Island is a favorite spot for birds.
The Mississippi River at Smith's Island is a favorite spot for birds.

As we walked from the parking area to the island, we enjoyed peeks of the Mississippi River through lush vegetation and brilliant wildflowers. We spotted swans and geese. A flock of pelicans flew overhead. We also spotted a groundhog that was bobbing in and out of the tall grasses and wildflowers near the shore.

A natural trail beckons wanders into the forest on Smith's Island in Iowa.
A natural trail beckons wanders into the forest.

Approaching the head of the island trail, we noted that we would be entering a dense woodland full of oaks, walnuts and maples. After taking the trail from the parking area to the island in open sun, embarking on a natural path through the lush forest with sun only slightly dancing through the canopy treated us to a nice sensory change. The island was alive with wildlife and a joy to walk around. 

Ruins add an element of tangible history on Smith's Island.
Ruins add an element of tangible history on Smith's Island.

We did encounter ruins while on our meander. John Hoepfer once farmed the land of Smith's Island. Across the canal was an ice storage house where ice blocks to used for home refrigeration were stored. Hoepfer eventually old lots on the island for residential and recreational use. Little remains of the farm and cottages that once populated the island. These ruins mark one of the few tangible reminders.

Brilliant greens and blues made for a lovely scene from Smith's Island.
Brilliant greens and blues made for a lovely scene from Smith's Island.

Overall, we delighted in the diversity of flora and fauna while hiking Smith's Island Nature Trail. We certainly spotted an array of birds enjoying the mighty Mississippi River. The dense woodlands provided us with an enriching forest experience full of sights and sounds. The well-loved nature area is also popular for fishing and picnicking. Smith's Island offers a fantastic a nature adventure near LeClaire, Iowa.

Short and Scenic: A Hike on Iowa's Smith's Island


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