If you want to find an unspoiled, natural haven within the Decorah city limits, there are many options to start your outdoor adventure. But the Decorah Community Prairie easily makes the “Do Not Miss” list. Just off Ohio Street, it offers convenient parking if you choose to arrive by car. Once there, make your way to the meandering, grassy prairie trails. Let yourself get a little lost on the trails, and you just might rediscover that feeling of serenity you’ve been missing as your senses come alive. If you’re into birding, take along that field guide so you can carefully identify the hollow-boned creatures that choose to make a stop at one of the many bird houses that dot the trail or that take flight among the wildflowers.
If you are so moved, head directly toward the trail that follows the edge of the Upper Iowa River. Perhaps you might sit a spell on the wooden bench nearby and do a little journaling, pen in hand, or just relax as you hear the current of the river rush by. If you are more artistically inclined, you might be inspired to make a sketch of the prairie with the towering bluffs in the background. While a group hike is fun, it can be a wonderful spot to find a little solitude as well where you can collect your thoughts and recharge your soul.
Once you decide to make your way back to where you began, don’t miss the lovely butterfly garden that sits adjacent to the prairie trails’ entrance. It boasts a paved trail where you can delight in the variety of species that mingle with the flora in this enchanting location. It’s definitely a place to snap a few photos and marvel at nature’s unadulterated bliss.
If you’ve brought the picnic basket along, there is also a small picnic area at the base of the trails. That freshly-squeezed lemonade and I sandwich on rye will taste so much sweeter after a little time spent exploring the prairie’s abundant gifts.
While it seems especially striking with all the flowers in full bloom, make sure to come back to see how the landscape changes throughout the seasons. Take in the changing tree line above in autumn as the colors change from green to a palette of hues that make that box of 64 crayons seem dull by comparison. You can also enjoy the trails in winter as well as you bring along the snowshoes or cross-country skis. In spring, new life will begin to bloom again, and it’s an especially hopeful time to set your feet upon the prairie grass. So, carve out a little niche in your day to return to your natural roots, and discover that feeling of home in a welcoming walk in the prairie.