How do you get to Nelson Dewey State Park? To me, the only reasonable path is to take the ferry from Iowa to Cassville and then drive the couple of miles up the road to the park.
The problem, of course, is this: How do you get to the Iowa side of the Mississippi River?
If you’re interested in that part of our journey to Nelson Dewey, check out our story here.
If you don’t really need to know the prequel, stay here and keep reading.
It’s Just Lunch
We began our visit to Nelson Dewey with a little, light lunch at the Prairie Shelter.
We were apparently the guests of this nearby spider. He didn’t move the entire time we were in the park.
The view of the Mississippi River from our picnic table was wonderful.
Walking the Trails at Nelson Dewey
After we had eaten, we took the Mound Point trail, which seems to be the logical path to follow in the park if you want to see the river.
For that purpose, the trail did not disappoint, as you can see in the two shots that follow.
There wasn’t much else of interest along this mostly flat trail. We did see a little shelf fungus.
And we crossed this “bridge” which perhaps has a little water flowing under it at some time during the year.
Near the end of the trail, we came upon this stone structure. We’re not sure what it used to be.
In addition to the unofficial scenic views I showed you above, the trail also offers this official scenic overlook.
And here is the view from there.
The official trail map doesn’t really show this properly, but near its northern end, the Mound Point trail connects to the Woodbine trail loop. We took the Woodbine to get back to the road and encountered these three informational signs along the way.
The road took us to the Oakwood trail which, while it’s broad, easy to walk, and the only real alternative to retracing your steps on the Mound Point trail, doesn’t really have anything interesting to see.
More Views in Nelson Dewey
Back near our starting point was the Dewey Heights Picnic Shelter. It has a fireplace and would make a good place to hide from the weather.
Very near the shelter are some burial mounds. There are small signs near the mounds that warn you not to walk on them. Unfortunately all these signs face away from the road – the direction from which you approach them.
So, unless you’re paying attention, you won’t know you’re treading on the mounds until it’s too late. (We hadn’t noticed and may have tread on them. Sorry.)
Also nearby is another scenic overlook with a landmark sign that kindly tells you what you’re seeing.
One of the views includes Stonefield Village, which is across the road from the park. (We didn’t visit it on this trip.)
You can see this interesting rock outcropping to the north. You can walk out onto the rock (which I did, second picture below) if you like. Just be a little careful because there’s no railing to keep you from falling.
Nelson Dewey doesn’t have a lot going for it, but we found it a pleasant, short hike. If I happened to be in the area, I’d probably visit there again.
Cassville, Wisconsin (2 miles)
Nearest Emergency Facility
Guttenberg, Iowa (15 miles, ferry crossing required – 45 minutes)
Lancaster, Wisconsin (21 miles)
6:00 AM to 11:00 PM, year-round
Vehicle admission sticker required