Conservation crew hacking new trail to scenic Clayton County bluff

MARQUETTE, Iowa (KCRG-TV9)- People who love to hike will soon have a brand new route to a scenic Clayton County overlook. That is, if they're willing to work for it.

A Conservation Corps crew works on a brand new trail at Bloody Run County Park near Marquette on Thursday.

Bloody Run County Park, located about two miles west of Marquette, is closed now as crews repair some weekend storm damage. But by the time the park, located just off Highway 18 reopens it'll have a brand new attraction.

A Conservation Corps crew is literally blazing a new route up the side of a bluff to a scenic overlook and local tourism leaders say it could eventually become one more attraction to market to visitors in an area that depends on tourism.

Clayton County Conservation naturalist Kenny Slocum says he's not kidding when he calls the trail being built "primitive."

Even when finished, it will still be a hard-packed dirt track back and forth up the side of one of northeast Iowa's bluffs near the Mississippi River. But it will open up about 135 acres of this little-used county park to a lot of new users.

"Right now, people have to pick their way through dense vegetation to get up here. It's all sorts of struggles to get to the top. Hopefully with a trail, people will be more inclined to do so," Slocum said.

It might take a lot of huffing and puffing to get to the top but the reward is a vista few see right now because there's no easy way to the top.

Five Conservation Corps members started hacking their way up the side of the bluff on Monday. By the time they're done, next Monday, they'll leave a trail more than a mile in length.

And they'll leave local tourism supporters with something new to pitch to visitors who come to the area.

Carolyn Gallagher, director of the Marquette-McGregor Chamber of Commerce, can't wait to have something new to promote.

"This will be a good attraction because you would be surprised at the number of people who want to walk along the bluffs. And this is along the bluffs," she said.

And best of all, it won't cost Clayton County much at all--maybe just $80 total. This project won a $10,000 Wellmark Foundation grant to create a new recreation trail for the health benefit of users.

That will cover all but a few dollars of the cost of a Conservation Corps trail crew for a week.