As the summer months progress, citizens are encouraged to explore the county’s parks. The one state park near Muscatine is Wildcat Den State Park, known for a robust set of trails that take hikers over a variety of terrain and feature unique elements like Steamboat Rock, Devil’s Punch Bowl, and Fat Man’s Squeeze. Bluffs and rock outcroppings provide scenic views to hikers of all levels of experience.
A major focal point of the park is the Pine Creek Grist Mill, located in the eastern part of the park on Pine Creek. The mill was constructed in 1848 by Benjamin Nye, one of Muscatine County’s first settlers, who also built the county’s first store and post office in 1838. The Pine Creek Grist Mill is a historic representation of mid-nineteenth-century mills and is one of the finest left in the country. The Mill is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Discovery Park in Muscatine boasts 85 acres of natural area in an urban environment. Walking trails, fishing ponds, and the Environmental Learning Center invite people of all ages to come and explore nature. It is located on Cedar Street off Highway 61. The area includes reclaimed farmlands, reconstructed prairie, wooded hillsides, small streams, fishing ponds (including Discovery Pond), and access to the Muscatine Arboretum. Visitors can expect to find shelters available to be reserved, 1.5 miles of paved hiking/biking trails, 2 miles of mowed trails, a handicapped-accessible fishing dock, wildlife viewing blind, outdoor raptor enclosure, restrooms, and a historic cemetery. The area is open for fishing, walking, biking, nature study, picnicking, geocaching, and public nature programs.
Deep Lakes Park is a 435-acre park that features over 120 acres of water. The area is made up of numerous small lakes and ponds, sand dunes, and grassy/brushy areas. Visitors will find parking lots, restrooms, access for canoes, kayaks, and small boats that can be carried from the parking lot, boat ramps on Lake Chester and Lake Jewell, a fishing dock on Lake Chester, and a beach on Lake Chester open from 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. daily. The area is open for fishing, hiking, nature study, canoeing, kayaking, and swimming.
Saulsbury Bridge Recreation Area provides a 675-acre multi-use park adjacent to the Cedar River in the middle of Muscatine County. The mix of flood-plain forest, open fields, creeks, and wetlands provides a variety of outdoor recreational opportunities. Visitors will find the Cedar River, timber, wetlands, creeks, reconstructed prairie, and flat terrain. Amenities at the area include, campgrounds, a picnic shelter available fore reservation, playgrounds, Saulsbury Lodge (which is available to rent), restrooms, a handicapped-accessible fishing dock, and boat ramps to Cedar River and Chicken Creek. The area is open for camping, picnicking, fishing, hiking, horseback riding, hunting, trapping, nature study, geocaching, boating on Chicken Creek and Cedar River, and canoeing (canoes are available for rent).