Stroll through a tallgrass prairie and experience what Iowa was like centuries ago when you and Fido take on the Herbert Hoover Prairie Trail! Located in the Herbert Hoover National Historic Site, this 2.5-mile mowed grass trail will take you and your pup over rolling hills and around the grassland ecosystem that once covered 85 percent of the state.
Begin your hike at the visitor center, where you'll find park rangers ready to answer any questions you may have, as well as a prairie garden comprising some common tallgrass prairie plants. Don't forget to grab a copy of the park map and guide before setting off. The 81-acre tallgrass prairie is a reconstruction of the expansive grassland that used to grow abundantly in Iowa, before Herbert Hoover's grandparents moved here in 1854. In 1971, the National Park Service planted native species of grasses on land that previously served as farm fields.
As you and your pup make your way around this maze of tall grasses, you will spot big bluestem, little bluestem, switchgrass, side-oats grama, Indian grass, and Canada wild rye. If you visit between April and late October, you will also see wildflowers such as golden alexanders, spiderworts, butterfly milkweeds, Canada anemones, and yellow and purple coneflowers adding splashes of color to the native grasses. Since the park is on a major bird migration route known as the Mississippi flyway, you may encounter grassland birds like grasshopper sparrows, bobolinks, sedge wrens, eastern meadowlarks, and dickcissels as well.
The Herbert Hoover National Historic Site welcomes furry visitors as long as they remain on a 6-foot leash and are cleaned up after. Except inside buildings, Fido is allowed to tag along wherever you go on the park grounds. Of course, don't miss the chance to hike the Herbert Hoover Prairie Trail and see an Iowa landscape that had almost disappeared!
Stay on the trail to avoid tick bites, but still check yourself and your dog thoroughly when you're done hiking. Also, be prepared for rain and thunderstorms during the spring and summer.