The Judd Wildlife Area is one of the many county areas the Conservation Board owns and manages. Just south of Horseshoe Bend in Milford, this tract of land varies wildly. The top part is a beautiful prairie. As you walk through the prairie towards the back of the park, you can smell the evergreens on the property next to the park. They smell sweet and amazing. This early in the spring, the wildlife isn’t as abundant as in the summer but I did see a few birds and many holes dug in the ground. I can only imagine what made them but something dug them.
Eventually, as you walk through the park, you’ll come upon a gate. Through the gate is still part of the park so it’s okay to head on through. What you’ll find might be a surprise.
You will find you come out on the top of a hill and there is a valley at the bottom of the hill. It’s a beautiful thing and with the wind blowing through, there are so many sounds. When you walk down the hill, you come to a scary-looking bridge but it’s more stable than it looks. It goes over a creek that is a tributary into the Little Sioux River. It has some cool creatures in it like the crayfish shown below.
Once you cross the creek, you’re in a wetland. There is uneven ground but as long as it hasn’t rained recently, it should be fairly dry. As you walk across the grasses listen. When the wind blows through the tall grass, it sounds like water flowing. Once through the wetland, there’s no missing the large hills where you’ll find the pasque flowers. The hills toward the east are the sandy hills where the pasque flowers thrive.
The pasque flowers are one of the first of Iowa’s wildflowers to bloom. They are the cutest, fuzzy little flowers. They can grow in small groups or by themselves. The bees are very happy they’re blooming. Watch for ticks though as they like the tall grass and can get blown around in the wind. It would be a good idea to wear pants and boots.
Take some time out there though to enjoy the view, the sounds of nature and the short-lived pasque flowers. On your way back out, take a left just through the gate and walk past the oak savanna. There are so many generations of oak trees in the space and they’re beautiful to look at. Even without leaves. Keep a close eye on the trees though so you don’t miss the fun things in them. I think I found some poop on this dead tree. It’s kind of cool. I didn’t get close enough to tell what kind of animal it came from though.
To spend time in nature is so important because, despite the wind and having to walk up and down a few hills, I was surprisingly content after this hike. It was worth it because the pasque flowers were out. This was the first time I had been able to find them and it was very exciting. If you head out to Judd Wildlife Area, let us know! Tag us on social media and show us what you find.