It’s always a bit nerve-wracking to meet someone new, on unfamiliar turf, but we needn’t have worried about meeting our guide for hiking in the Quad Cities. Wade (of Intrepid Daily) was a consummate host and eager to share his knowledge of his adopted town. One funny thing is that on our Rock River Trail Road Trip, my son and I both said we wanted to visit the Blackhawk State Historic Site and here I was!
We met up at the Watchtower Lodge, which sits within the Black Hawk State Historic Site. The Hauberg Indian Museum, which is in the Watchtower Lodge (constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps [CCC] in 1934), is a great place to meet, to get water, and to cool off on a hot day. Wade and I hit it off immediately – he is an unassuming guy, but underneath his relatively placid exterior lies a lot of passion for the outdoors, both from an activity and a knowledge standpoint.
We hiked down some trails to the banks of the Rock River, with Wade pointing out various flora (and picking up trash the whole time). There are some issues with the trails and general maintenance due to the state’s ongoing budget crisis, but it’s still a worthwhile visit. We also crossed large road via pedestrian bridge to visit the northwestern section of the park – this side feels like more of a typical Midwest forest preserve, with a wide trail and houses nearby.
There’s a lot of history at this site, as it was inhabited by prehistoric natives almost 12,000 years ago, became a major Native American center, was the site of a battle in the Revolutionary War, was an amusement park up until 1927 (when the state purchased the site), and housed the CCC. Phew. Beyond the museum and trails, the site also houses the Singing Bird Nature Center and the Dickson Cemetery, home to settlers, paupers, murderers and outlaws. Fun for the whole family!
Wade couldn’t stop laughing at the boys and who can blame him? Three 16 year olds having an awesome road trip with energy to burn. On and off trails, playing on a jungle gym, nonstop chatter. While we weren’t quite as active, Wade and I had a lot of fun talking about him ending up in the Quad City area, plans for further adventures, and the idea of being able to have microadventures no matter where you reside. For those who have pooh-poohed the Quad Cities as a destination, talk to Wade, he’ll set you straight.
This is a great urban hiking spot that has a lot going for it. If you’re relatively fit, this is a fantastic way to spend a few hours or the entire day with a museum visit and, since there is variety to the trails, can be appropriate for all ages and fitness levels.
Directions to the Watch Tower Lodge at the Blackhawk State Historic Site:
Contact Wade at Intrepid Daily or the Quad Cities CVB for suggestions on where else to hike (or camp) in the area.
Thanks to Visit Quad Cities for setting this up – we had an amazing time and we’ll be back to hike the trails again, especially if Wade agrees to guide us again!