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“Hiking at its best”

Mines of Spain Recreation Area
Ranked #3 of 71 things to do in Dubuque
Certificate of Excellence
Attraction details
Reviewed October 20, 2013

Want to get away for a day and still be close to everything? This place is great. It has over 1300 acres just waiting for people to explore. The trails twist and turn their way all over. You even get a history lesson at the EB Lyon center. Well worth the stop.

Thank Daniel B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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"julien dubuque"
in 28 reviews
"interpretive center"
in 12 reviews
"nature center"
in 10 reviews
"great hiking"
in 7 reviews
"great place to hike"
in 4 reviews
"hiking trails"
in 9 reviews
"eagle scout"
in 3 reviews
"mississippi river"
in 34 reviews
"catfish"
in 12 reviews
"paved path"
in 2 reviews
"amazing trails"
in 2 reviews
"nice hike"
in 3 reviews
"lead mining"
in 3 reviews
"beautiful area"
in 7 reviews
"bird watching"
in 2 reviews
"trail head"
in 2 reviews
"up hill"
in 3 reviews
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144 - 148 of 195 reviews

Reviewed October 14, 2013

This is a dog friendly park that has no entry fee. I take my dogs here once a week and we hike some of the longer trails. If I only have a short time, there are several loop trails. Two begin at the boat put in on Catfish creek. One, Catfish, a 1.75 mile loop, starts across the road and follows the creek for half the trail and follows the ridge above for the other half. The other trail, Calcite, a 2-mile loop, begins on the far side of the bridge and follows the road up to the next picnic grounds before climbing the ridge there to come back to Catfish Creek. There is also a connecting trail about a mile long along catfish creek that takes you to the visitor center (EB Lyons Interpretive Center) and the old farmstead site.

Longer loops can be found on the upper fields at Prairie Ridge and Cedar Ridge, each 3 miles in a loop. The Cedar Ridge loop also has a connecting trail that leads down to the 6-mile Eagle Scout trail. This trail is the longest in the park and starts in Cattesse Hollow. In winter, 4-wheel low is all that will get you out of the parking lot. This trail follows Cattesse Creek downstream, crossing it in a couple of places. Along the sides are bluffs that have side trails to the tops which give views out over this nice valley. After the second crossing the trail follows the side of the hill and turns away from the river just before reaching the railroad tracks. A non-maintained track leads to the tracks and river if you want to take a look. The regular trail climbs up the hill until it comes to a large cornfield. Here it follows the field around the edges until it passes through an old farmstead that just has the house foundations, parts of a windmill, and most of an old barn still standing. The trail goes down to a creek, up the ridge and down and up again until it ends in a loop in the grass and you have to return the same way you came. If you know the area, you can make your way out to Old Massey Road and follow it back, or cut through the woods downhill and pick up the trail near the creek.

Several of the areas have good off-trail walks in the winter. In the summer there is too much undergrowth. The main problem is that if you're walking your dogs in November or December, you might get shot as it's deer hunting season. I haven't heard of anybody getting shot but I've run into groups of hunters and red-eyed deer hiking along the creeks. I've also found the bones of a deer with its antlers sawed off in the middle of a field on the Cedar Ridge Loop.

This is also a good put-in for kayaking or canoeing on the Mississippi. A small floating dock is maintained by the bridge below the Julian Dubuque Monument on Catfish Creek. You can paddle downstream to the Mississippi and paddle up to the lock and dam, getting some current to help with the return. Depending on the river level, exploring around the island is possible. When the river is low, many of the cross channels are dry.

1  Thank kitsuko
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 12, 2013

We were on our first day of a road trip from IL to SD. Mines of Spain was one of our first stops. Very nice recreational area with some very nice natural scenery and interesting history. We did a couple of short hikes to stretch our legs and take in the scenery this areas had to offer.
We did the walk to the monument and were very glad we stopped and checked this park out. Definitely made it to our "need to return" list.

Thank jim521r
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 8, 2013

This is a treasure to have so close to the city. A beautiful setting for a quick hour or for a full day w/picnic. Used to be farming, fishing and limestone. Now turned into a fantastic park.
Just go and check it out, words won't do justice.

Thank C H E
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed October 2, 2013

When thinking of Iowa you automatically think hay barrels and the one Midwestern state with legal gay marriage. Who knew they had two gorgeous parks in Dubuque proper (Mines of Spain and Eagle Point Park)?! The Mines of Spain Park is fairly small but has some great hiking trails, including Horseshoe Bluff (3/4 of a mile). The southern section of the park is primarily prairie. One not to be missed is up to the Dubuque Monument Tower where Julien Dubuque is buried. Yes, the town of Dubuque received it's name from the French Canadian who arrived to these shores of the Mississippi River as one of the First European men. Unlike most settlers who tortured and murdered the local tribes, Dubuque befriended the Meskwaki Native American tribe's Chief Peosta and peacefully received permission to mine lead in 1788. (He may have even named his daughter "Potosa" after the tribe...a little Pocahontas story in the making.) Subsequently, the Spanish gave Dubuque a land grant for such a feat in 1796. After his death, the Meskwaki constructed a log crypt for Dubuque's corpse, which was later replaced in the late 19th century by this stone monument tower. A little history for you! There is a plaque commemorating Dubuque next to his grave which explains the story more in depth. For those who are unable to hike, there is a parking lot at the top where the monument stands tall to allow cars up to enjoy the views of downtown Dubuque, the Mississippi River, and the rest of the Mines of Spain. Definitely worth a visit if you're in the area and only a 5 minute short drive from Downtown.

1  Thank Richie D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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