A unique area in Webster County south of Highway 20 offers outdoor adventurers different types of experiences less than 10 miles apart.
Brushy Creek State Recreation Area and Dolliver Memorial State Park provide a formidable one-two punch for outdoor recreation in north central Iowa. Combined, the two areas have nearly 7,000 acres of wildness to hunt, hike, bike, fish, shoot, camp, swim, paddle, watch wildlife and the leaves change color in the fall.
Getting lost in Webster County is easy.
Participants in the Healthy and Happy Outdoors (H2O) campaign to connect with outdoor resources, reduce stress and improve health can go online at www.iowadnr.gov/h2o
to find and log a number of different experiences at these areas.
Participants who register for H2O and log activities will automatically be entered for prize drawings. The more activities logged, the more entries submitted.
Brushy Creek, with its 37 miles of trails, can challenge the hard core mountain biker or be enjoyed by walkers looking for a leisurely stroll. Visitors can go hunting, lake fishing, ride horses, camp at one of three campgrounds, swim in the lake, shoot at two ranges, go paddling on the lake and more.
Two cabins overlooking the beach are planned for this year, with an additional two cabins planned for the equestrian north campground. The area plans call for 18 to 20 cabins in all.
“We have events planned throughout the year to get people outside and active like the adventure race in August that combines running, biking and kayaking,” said Amber O’Neill, park manager at Brushy Creek. Other annual events include a cache-in-trash-out geocaching event in the spring, a no woman left inside one day program in June, a full moon paddle trip around the island anytime there is a full moon and more.
The lake’s 10 fishing jetties see plenty of action with excellent crappie, bluegill and largemouth bass fishing. Walleyes, muskies, channel catfish and smallmouth bass also lurk in the 690 acre lake built in 1998.
Mountain biking is getting more popular and the trails are definitely good for hard core bikers, O’Neill said. Trails feature flatter stretches near the river and more hills in the middle section. The 12-mile loop around the lake is graveled.
At more than 6,500 acres, Brushy Creek is Iowa’s largest recreation area in the state park system. Many of its modern facilities were built in the 1990s.
Contrast with that with the 458-acre Dolliver Memorial State Park dedicated in 1925, with two lodges, cabins and stonework built by the CCC in the 1930s using sandstone from the park.
The scenic park along the Des Moines River has 100 foot high bluffs, five miles of trails and hilltop prairies. The park is part of the Des Moines River Water Trail and has a boat ramp where paddlers can put in or take out.
Dolliver’s trails are a mile long or less and one features Native American history along the way. It has two basic rustic cabins for general use and a popular group camp that features 10 cabins, modern shower building and a mess hall.
A park map shows bone yard hollow gorge where bison were chased off the cliff for food and burial mounds along the interpretive trail.
“Bone yard hollow is not on a trail, but you can hike to it and it is worth the effort,” said Kevin Henning, park manager for Dolliver.
The campground received new electrical service, a new latrine near the cabins and a new dump station. Fishing can be good for channel catfish and walleye, particularly in the spring.
More information is available online at www.iowadnr.gov/parks