Dunnings Spring Falls, Iowa

There are waterfalls in Iowa! In Decorah, Iowa, there are a few waterfalls in the area. Malanaphy Springs Falls is a few miles outside of Decorah, and does require some hiking to view. In the city itself, though, is Dunnings Spring Falls, which is very easy to view, and is surprisingly pretty.

I believe wedding photos were being taken when I visited Dunnings Spring Park, so I may have been a bit distracted. Once finding parking, though, it was a quick walk to view the falls. I believe there was a trail that led uphill to the left of the falls, and I followed it for a while. It does lead you to the crest of the falls, but it wasn’t anything very exciting, and I don’t believe I had any better views of the falls. It’s still a nice park to explore!

Directions:

  1. In Decorah, off College Drive, you’ll find Ice Cave Road (which Google also briefly shows as Quarry Street). Turn onto Ice Cave Road, which only heads to the east.
  2. After a short distance, you’ll come upon Dunnings Spring Park. The waterfall is found inside the park. I may have had to walk a bit further to find parking, which I don’t remember where the best place to park was.

Accessibility: 10/10 (easy)
Height: 40′
Length of Hike: 0.1 miles round-trip

DSC_1875

Where in the World is Dunnings Spring Falls?

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Bridal Veil Falls, Iowa

Bridal Veil Falls in July 2014

As I said in a post about Malanaphy Spring Falls, one doesn’t really expect to find many waterfalls in Iowa. And honestly, there aren’t a whole lot, though there are still more than one might expect. Malanaphy Spring Falls was flowing very well in June of 2014, but Bridal Veil Falls wasn’t flowing very well.

When I visited the area, it was relatively warm, and at that point, any water source for the falls had mostly (though not all) dried up. And maybe there really isn’t ever much water flowing over the falls. I have to admit I don’t know if I’d go out of my way to see the falls (unless I knew there had been a lot of rain recently). And yet, I also have to admit that Pike Peaks State Park (where Bridal Veil Falls is found) is a really beautiful park. There are great views of the Upper Mississippi River from a 500′ bluff. So…if you decide to stop, then the trek along the stairways through the park is enjoyable as you discover Bridal Veil Falls.

Directions:

  1. From US-18 right near the Iowa/Wisconsin border (on the Iowa side), take the exit before you head over the Upper Mississippi River into Wisconsin.
  2. Head south along 1st Street. You’ll pass the Lady Luck Riverboat Casino if you’re headed in the right direction.
  3. At some point, 1st Street will turn into River Street, which will then turn into Main Street.
  4. Pass through the town of McGregor. Main Street will come to and end, and you will have to turn left onto Walton Street.
  5. After turning left, you will very quickly after turn right onto Clayton County Road 56.
  6. Drive along Clayton County Road 56 to the entrance of the park. (You want the entrance on Pike Peak Road. You will turn left on this road.)
  7. Drive to the parking area, and then obtain a map to help you find the falls. If I remember correctly, the signs to the falls are pretty clear.

Accessibility: 8/10 (easy/moderate)
Height: 10′
Length of Hike: Less than 1 mile round trip (multiple possible paths)

Where in the World is Bridal Veil Falls?

Malanaphy Springs Falls, Iowa

The upper portion of Malanaphy Spring Falls (that magically appears) in July 2014

I really don’t know where to start. Based on all of the research I had done, I wasn’t expecting much in the way of waterfalls in Iowa. I was hoping that there would be waterfalls considering it’s mid-July. In many other similar places, the waterfalls would be dry by now. And yet, Iowa has some very unique waterfalls. Of the few that are more widely known, they’re all spring fed. That means that in the middle of July, you have a much greater chance of finding the waterfall flowing.

Now, even being spring fed, one of the waterfalls I visited, Bridal Veil Falls in Pikes Peak State Park, didn’t have much flow. I was expecting the same to be true for the two falls near Decorah, Malanaphy Springs and Dunnings Springs Falls. I was really wrong.

Malanaphy Springs Falls was impressive, and that surprised me. I was expecting some dinky little waterfall, and what I saw instead was really interesting. The one report of height I’ve seen put the waterfall at about 30′, but this reveals the issue with measuring waterfall height. In this case, parts of it might be classified more as cascades, but in total, I’m guessing the total drop from the start of the spring opening to the point where it meets the Upper Iowa River is closer to 60′ or 70′ (maybe more?). You don’t see this drop all at once, and that might make you think the drops are less impressive.

When you see the upper portion of the waterfall, you’ll be baffled. It seems like it should have started at the cliffs above you, but instead it’s starting from this cave. And as you look around, you’ll realize that this waterfall has to reach the Upper Iowa River, and it does in beautiful fashion. (You have to go back to where there was a fork in the trail and cross the spring to get to this vantage point.)  I honestly had a great time photographing all of the different pieces of this very unexpected waterfall.

Directions:

  1. From the intersection of IA-9 and US-52, head north on US-52.
  2. After a mile or so (give or take), you’ll turn left onto Pole Line Road.
  3. Drive on Pole Line Road for just over 2 miles to Bluffton Road.
  4. Turn right onto Bluffton Road, and drive about 0.7 miles to a parking area on your right. It’s 100′ or so off the road. (If you’ve crossed the bridge over the Upper Iowa River, you’ve gone too far.)
  5. From the parking area, take the trail to the falls. It’s not clearly marked, but there’s no other trail. You’ll be following the Upper Iowa River going upstream. It’s almost impossible to miss the falls, or at least I would think.

Accessibility: 7/10 (easy/moderate)
Length of Hike: ~2 miles roundtrip
Height: 60-70′ (total)

The lower portion of Malanaphy Springs Falls that meets the Upper Iowa River

Where in the World is Malanaphy Springs Falls?