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Ascent of Marching Bears Ridge on 2015-07-20

Climber: Fred Lobdell

Other People:Solo Ascent
Only Party on Mountain
Date:Monday, July 20, 2015
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Marching Bears Ridge
    Location:USA-Iowa
    Elevation:1100 ft / 335 m

Ascent Trip Report

Effigy Mounds National Monument is located in northeastern Iowa on the Mississippi River and adjacent land. The NM is composed of four units: North, South, Heritage Addition, and Sny Magill. The NM maps show just the North and South units, with the high ground being near the southern boundary of the South Unit where an 1100-foot contour touches the boundary. I tried to make sure that there was no higher ground in either of the other units. The Sny Magill unit (named for a creek of that name that flows through it) is about 12 miles south of the Visitor Center, and I was able to find it on the topographic map. It is all bottomland, with elevations in the 600s. The Heritage Addition Unit is a different matter, as it doesn't show on any topographic map. As far as I can tell, parts of this unit exceed 1000 feet in elevation but don't reach 1100 feet, so the NM high point is at the southern border of the South Unit, as described above.

I approached from the south, taking IA 76 north from the village of Marquette. The Visitor Center is about 3 miles north of Marquette on the right (east) just north of the bridge over the Yellow River. In order to get to the trailhead for this hike, I had to backtrack from the Visitor Center a little less than a half mile and park on the east side of highway 76 near a picnic table overlooking the Mississippi. From there I hiked up a gated dirt road. The park brochure was useful in keeping me on the correct path at trail junctions. Near the Marching Bears Group the road petered out, but there was an open grassy, mowed area that extended south to a wooden gate in the fence that separated the NM from the corn field to the south. The high ground is to the west from the gate. The bushwhacking was not pleasant, with a fair amount of brush that included briars.

South of the fence there was a two-track that paralleled the fence. If one were inclined to do so, it looked as though one might climb the gate and follow the two-track west, avoiding the worst of the bushwhacking. If one were to select this option, then when one arrived at the high ground along the fence one could stick one's foot under the fence at that point and call it good. The descent was uneventful.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:580 ft / 176 m
    Total Elevation Loss:580 ft / 176 m
    Round-Trip Distance:5 mi / 8 km
    Grade/Class:Class 1
    Quality:3 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Open Country, Bushwhack
    Weather:Pleasant, Calm, Clear
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:530 ft / 161 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 480 ft / 147 m; Extra: 50 ft / 15m
    Loss on way in:50 ft / 15 m
    Distance:2.5 mi / 4 km
    Route:Gated dirt road, grassy mowed area, bushwhack
    Start Trailhead:Iowa DNR day-use area e, of 76  620 ft / 188 m
    Time:1 Hours 0 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:530 ft / 161 m
        Loss Breakdown:Net: 480 ft / 147 m; Extra: 50 ft / 15m
    Gain on way out:50 ft / 15 m
    Distance:2.5 mi / 4 km
    Route:Reverse of route up
    End Trailhead:Same as start point  620 ft / 188 m
    Time:0 Hours 45 Minutes



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