"A nearly 9,000-acre wildlife refuge that has grown up along formerly drained areas by the South Skunk River, Chichaqua Bottoms Greenbelt is crisscrossed by oxbow channels that flow through a landscape of restored wetlands, savanna, and woodlands. The refuge is home to numerous animal species: River otters were reintroduced here in 1997, and ornate box turtles in 1998. A nearby area is devoted to sandhill cranes. The park has a good selection of trails, providing lots of hiking through lowland areas along the oxbows. It can get muddy along the Jack Pine and other trails, but it’s well worth the opportunity to see a wide variety of wildlife.
The hike begins as you cross the historic, 100-foot, early Warren truss bridge spanning the old channel of the Skunk River, the longest bridge of its kind in Iowa. Green algae blooms in swampy pools along the trail on the far side of the bridge, and water may come well up over tree trunks during the rainy season. Moving through more woods, you pick up the sounds of birds: Over 200 species are here, including the rose-breasted grosbeak, common yellowthroat, and seventeen types of sparrow, including lark and swamp sparrows."