Proving Grounds Recreation Area: A Dubuque Outdoor Gem (PHOTOS)
Getting out to explore nature is essential to a healthy, happy, and efficient lifestyle; and Dubuque provides a load of amazing opportunities. I took the chance to head out with the family this weekend to an area we've never visited; Proving Grounds Recreation Area in Dubuque.
This is the PERFECT area to bike, hike, and explore. Better yet, the entire area was donated to the Dubuque County Conservation Board by John Deere Dubuque Works in 2018.
According to the website:
the name Proving Grounds was selected for this area because previously John Deere used the grounds to test and prove out the quality of their machines and products. Also, the name was selected because when it comes to outdoor recreation, people often are trying to challenge themselves, establish mental and physical goals, and ultimately prove it to themselves that they can do what they set out to do.
This is definitely the place to challenge yourself, especially for mountain bikers! This park actually makes me want to go out and get a bike again.
In addition to providing a great outdoor rec area; Proving Grounds provides 134 acre area of preserved flora and fauna and is naturally unique as a section of the Driftless region of Iowa.
Driftless means you'll see some awesome limestone outcroppings, in addition to the oak and hickory forests, prairies, and wildlife.
And yes, we saw some wildlife; check this guy out!
In total, we saw 3 snakes on the day. 2 Garter Snakes were sunning themselves in a prairie area on our hiking loop. We then stopped at the Sturman Tower before making the return trip.
The Sturman tower was actually built to improve TV reception for the family home and consisted of over 400 feet of wire running through the trees. We then ended up taking a trail called Back Drag that followed an interior bluff towards the main trail before we left for the day.
And what rec area would be complete without some amenities. Available on site:
- a pavilion and picnic area
- changing cove (for the people who bike and get a bit dirty).
I'm already planning a return trip. There are so many other trails I didn't hit and some that are Bike only; I guess I may have to invest in that bike for my next trip through Proving Grounds in Dubuque.
Check out another one of my Iowa adventures below