Little Bridges on the Prairie  LbNA # 21201

Placed DateMar 25 2006
LocationFairfield, IA
Found By (hidden)
Hike Distance?

Update: Box #1 last found 7/4/12. Box #2 may be missing.

Compass: Required
Ink: I recommend green, red, purple and gray
Pace: One pace = two steps.
Length / Terrain /Difficulty: About 1.5 miles round-trip on well- developed trails, minor elevation changes
Other: These two boxes are in the most visited park in the county. I think you’ll enjoy the variety of bridges as you hike through prairies, woods and wetlands.

From Highway 1, south of Fairfield, IA. head west on Libertyville road a few miles until you reach a county park named for the third President of the United States. Turn right into park entrance and headnorth to visitor center/park office parking lot.

From visitor center parking lot, head NW toward campground. (If you like, check out the bird blind on the left before crossing creek into campground). From camper registration kiosk, turn left and walk toward playground. Go UP the first slide you see, cross a swinging bridge and slide DOWN the slightly taller slide, then continue west to start of trail.

Cross wooden bridge and head uphill on trail. At top of hill, sit awhile and enjoy view of creek then head downhill to where you have your choice of bridges. I recommend the one that looks like more fun. Next, choose either the steeper short trail on the right or the longer more gradual one straight ahead. Near a big white oak, the two trails meet again. Head SW toward playground, shelters and restrooms. Continue to bulletin board.

Face the circle drive. Stand with your back to the bulletin board post that is furthest from the restroom. Head 215 degrees 66 paces across a field to stand between two single wooden posts. Continue 20 more paces on the same bearing to some brown and white signs next to a green electrical box.

From signs go 150 degrees 60 paces. As you do so, you’ll travel across a gravel road and downhill through a field toward a pond, passing a wooden building on your right, Cross a wooden bridge and continue on path quickly to a T-intersection. Turn right to continue traveling along the waterfront until you reach the edge of some woods at the SW corner of the pond.

At this point the trail divides. Go left (SW) uphill away from pond. At triangle intersection, exit the woods and take the left fork toward the silo. After a few paces where the trail splits again to go around a smaller pond, go left again, still heading toward silo. Go clockwise around the pond until you reach a bench on the south side. From center of bench go 230 degrees toward a pipeline facility surrounded by a chain link fence just outside the park boundary.

Do not exit the park. Instead, stand about 15 feet north of the park boundary fence and face the pipeline compound (your back is to the pond). Counting from left to right, move until you are directly opposite the second vertical post of the pipeline compound. Look down at your feet and spot an old gray metal bucket. “Prairie Smoke” is inside, discreetly hidden by pieces of bark. Please replace bark when re-hiding box.

PLEASE BE DISCREET as this location is visible from the road and a private residence. It is also visible from the trail in this popular park. I had hoped to place one or two small rocks on and in front of the letterbox to prevent animal mischief, weather or vandals from moving or destroying the box, but forgot to bring some that day and could not find any nearby. I hope to remedy that soon unless someone else beats me to it.

After stamping in box one, continue clockwise around pond back to the intersection where you left the woods earlier. Head north along trail and enter woods (this is not the trail you walked on earlier). Continue downhill veering left at an intersection to cross a wooden bridge with railings. Continue and cross a second wooden bridge. Read Terry’s stone, then turn left (north) again and follow edge of treeline north then east around a grassy field until you reach an opening in the tree line near a long row of wooden posts.

Turn left and head north along the red trail, keeping the prairie on your right. Trail soon curves left then right and continues north along park boundary. Soon there will be a long row of pine trees about 60 feet to your right and a pond and orchard on private property to your left. At intersection of red and yellow trails, say hello to Paul then stand in front of hiker sign.

Head east 24 paces along yellow trail until you reach the first bend in the trail. Stand about 1 foot due north of a pine tree on your right. Go 65 degrees 9 paces between a sapling oak and a sapling cedar. Watch for thorns. Head 12 paces 45 degrees to edge of woodland, and notice the top of a drainage on your right. Keeping the drainage on your right, follow it downhill to a large triple-trunked tree where one truck has fallen. Find “Monarch’s Delight” in the base. After stamping in, please wedge box back in tree base and replace bark and sticks so that animals, water or vandals do not destroy or carry the box away.

To return to parking lot: Head back to intersection of red and yellow trails, and turn right to continue north on red trail. After a few minutes, head downhill and cross a wooden bridge. Turn right into a grassy field and keep camper cabins on your left. Soon you’ll pass restrooms on the left. Continue through campground to return to visitor center lot OR just after campsite 24 on the left, and just before campsite 16 on the right, head uphill on path and turn right keeping campground on your right until you reach the same camper registration kiosk you visited at the beginning of your journey.