Each passing year, Madison County becomes more bike-friendly as we make progress on the Cedar Lake Community Trail Project. The trail plan will provide the City of Winterset with a comprehensive map of on-street shared bike routes, pedestrian paths utilizing city sidewalks, and a new multi-use trail that will connect the city with Cedar Lake.
Biking is allowed on all city streets, but painted “sharrows” have been added to suggested routes for added visibility and safety. The simple explanation of the in-town shared lane routes is: north-south on 8th Street, 2nd Ave. and 8th Ave., and east-west on Husky Drive, Court Ave., and Benton Streets, plus a few short routes on adjacent streets.
For the more serious riders that would like to bike 5-plus miles in town, the city encourages you to take these two loops: east-west loop of Benton and Court to 8th Street and 8th Ave., and north-south loop of 2nd Ave. and 8th Ave. to Benton and Husky Drive (plus a little jog on 4th Ave. and Hutchings). Do this twice and you have a 10.5 mile ride in town.
Several of our beautiful Madison County Parks are ideal for bird-watching. Jensen Marsh provides the user with the opportunity of viewing a wide variety of both game and non-game wildlife throughout the year, including waterfowl and upland birds and mammals. Clanton Creek Natural Resource Area is an excellent place for birding and savanna prairie plant identification. Hanson Prairie Preserve is a place to locate grasslands and “thicket” type bird species.
For more information about Bird Watching in Madison County, contact the Madison County Conservation Board office at 515.462.3536.
Winterset’s City Park Campground includes 34 sites with 50/30/15 amp electric service, water, sewer hook-ups, fire rings, picnic tables, a shower/restroom building, and 12 primitive tent sites. Sites are available on a first come – first serve basis unless reserved. For complete information about registration, fees and location, see the City Park Campground page on the City of Winterset’s website or contact Winterset Parks & Recreation Department at 515.462.3258.
There is also camping available at two Madison County parks: Pammel Park and Criss Cove. Pammel Park has two yurt cabins for rent in addition to camping sites. For complete information about registration, fees and locations, see the Camping and Yurt Cabins page of the Madison County Parks website or contact the Madison County Conservation Board at 515.462.3536.
Situated in Winterset City Park (along with Cutler-Donahoe Bridge), Clark Tower was erected in 1926 as a memorial to the county’s first pioneer family by its descendants. Constructed of native limestone, it stands 25 feet high and offers a commanding view of the Middle River valley below.
To find this historical treasure, simply enter Winterset City Park and follow the signs. It is reachable by car, and also makes a great hike (2 miles round trip, from the trail entrance point in City Park and back).
Cross Country Skiing
Visitors to Madison County’s Middle River Park use both the hard surfaced trail system as well as the park road system to hike through the park and the adjoining Winterset City Park to the north. During winter season, the road system is closed and utilized as cross-country ski trail system connecting to the road system in the adjacent Winterset City Park to provide for over 3 miles of wind-protected ski trails.
For more information about cross-country skiing in Madison County Parks, contact the Madison County Conservation Board at 515.462.3536.
Madison County parks provide for a multitude of fishing opportunities for anglers. Iowa’s most popular game fish, the Channel Catfish, can be easily caught in all of the river systems in Madison County. Excellent pan fishing opportunities (Bluegills, Bass and Crappie) also abound in each of the public ponds, lakes and impoundments found in various County, State and municipal parks in Madison County.
George Stout Storybook Sculpture
This scenic byway grant-funded public art piece by Michael Goodall is located in Winterset, Madison County, along the Covered Bridges Scenic Byway (on the corner of Washington Street and 1st Avenue). George Leslie Stout was born in Winterset in 1897, and resided here through high school. Stout was an American art conservation specialist and museum director who founded the first laboratory in the United States to study art conservation, as well as the first journal on the subject of art conservation. A Navy reservist for some time, Stout was placed on active duty in 1943, and soon after joined the Twelfth Army Group. Because of his art conservation background, he was one of the first recruited to the Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives section (MFAA). The group was charged with the protection of and documentation of damages to European cultural monuments during World War II, as well as the investigation, location, recovery, and repatriation of art that had been plundered by the Nazis. The main subject of a book and movie called “The Monuments Men”, Stout was portrayed by George Clooney in the film (though his name was changed). Located on the corner of Washington Street and 1st Avenue in Winterset, the George Stout Story Book sculpture pays tribute to Winterset native George Stout. Stout was featured in the 2014 movie “Monuments Men” for his role in protecting some of mankind’s most important artistic achievements during World War II.
Lakeview Country Club provides a beautiful golf course accessible to visitors. It is located near Cedar Covered Bridge at 3724 Lakeview Lane in Winterset. Visit their website for course information and green fees, or call 515.462.9962.
There are over 20 miles of groomed trails in Madison County parks. Come explore our trails that meander through tall grass prairies, woodlands carpeted with wild-flowers, shore-line wetlands and limestone ridges that overlook beautiful river valleys. Trails provide an excellent means to passively enjoy your County Parks throughout the year. Trails are open year round for hiking and cross country skiing. Complete information about trails in Madison County Parks can be found at www.madisoncountyconservation.org/trails-park-maps/.
Most of the public hunting ground managed by the Madison County Conservation Board is comprised of high quality upland timber habitat that provides hunters with some of the best quality hunting experiences for White-Tailed deer and Eastern Wild Turkey found anywhere in the State of Iowa. Public Hunting is allowed at the following County Parks: Clanton Creek Natural Resource Area, Fellowship Forest, Jensen Marsh, Guye Woods and Goeldner Woods.
Each public hunting area is listed at www.madisoncountyconservation.org/public-hunting/ with a detailed description of the types of habitat found in the park and the best type of hunting to be experienced.
Madison County Freedom Rock
The Madison County Freedom Rock, painted by Bubba Sorensen, is located on the grounds of the John Wayne Birthplace & Museum at the corner of Washington Street and 2nd Street in Winterset. It was finished and dedicated in August of 2017.
The Freedom Rock (established in 1999) is a large (approx. 60+ ton) boulder located in rural Iowa that is repainted every year with a different Thank You for our nations Veterans to honor their service to our country. The artist, Ray “Bubba” Sorensen II, was inspired by the movie Saving Private Ryan, as well as, wanting to give Veterans a unique recognition on Memorial Day. Sorensen paints The Freedom Rock on his own with the tremendous support of family and friends. Sorensen is not commissioned to paint the rock but is able to do so each year with the generous help of donations.
The Madison County Freedom Rock depicts the following:
East side – A female veteran with a Quilt of Valor. The Quilt of Valor Foundation is a group of volunteers throughout the United States who make and then award quilts to any service person. Winterset is the National Headquarters. As of 2017, 8,000 individuals are involved in creating the quilts and over 166,000 quilts have been presented. The female veteran depicted represents the role of women in service to the United States.
South side – George Stout and Glenn Martin.
George Stout, born in Winterset and a graduate of the University of Iowa and Harvard, served in both WWI and WWII. Because Stout was an art conservation specialist and museum director, he was called upon to lead the U.S. Army unit devoted to recovering art – the Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives, a.k.a. “The Monuments Men” – stolen from the Nazis. As the Allies marched through France and Germany, he was near the front lines helping to rescue cultural treasures. His expert knowledge of safe transport for works of art was put to the test repeatedly in evacuations of repositories, each time using improvised materials and unskilled labor.
Glenn Martin, born in Macksburg, Iowa, grew up fascinated with flight. Martin built his own planes and in 1912 he built an airplane factory in an old Methodist church in Los Angeles, California. In 1916 he merged his company with the original Wright Company, forming the Wright-Martin Aircraft Company. He soon left and founded a second Glenn L. Martin Company in 1917. That company merged with the American-Marietta Corporation in 1961, becoming the Martin Marietta Corporation, and in 1995 merged with the Lockheed Corporation, forming Lockheed Martin, a major U.S. aerospace and defense contractor. His company designed aircraft for the military, including bombers for both world wars.
West side – Four local prisoners of war – three during WWII and one from Vietnam – are depicted on this side. They are Carl Hircock of Winterset, Larry Spencer of Earlham, Eddie Benge of Winterset and Don Thomas of Macksburg. They are portrayed in black and white in order to bring to mind the colors and feel of the POW/MIA flag.
North side – This side depicts four of John Wayne’s likenesses representing his many military movie roles. He wrote several letters inquiring about joining the service, but received a deferment due to his four children. He was born in Winterset just a short distance from the Freedom Rock, and is quoted on the rock, “My hope and prayer is that everyone know and love our country for what she really is and what she stands for.”
Parks & Playgrounds
Madison County features some of the state’s most breathtaking parks.
In Winterset, the City Park consists of 76 acres and features three beautiful limestone shelter houses, play equipment, restrooms, picnic areas, campground, sand volleyball court, and a well maintained hedge maze. Cutler-Donahoe Covered Bridge is also located in the City Park, as well as Clark Tower. Other city parks include Whistle Stop, Memory Lane, and Carver Memorial Park, to name a few. More information about parks in Winterset can be found at cityofwinterset.org/park-facilities/.
The Madison County Conservation Board is responsible for managing 13 County Parks that are located in rural areas, with many options for picnicking, hiking, fishing, hunting, camping, and water trail access. You can find information about each of the parks at www.madisoncountyconservation.org/parks/.
Located adjacent to the Winterset Aquatic Center at 1201 W. Jefferson, two courts are available most anytime except during scheduled activities such as lessons and leagues. See information about Lighted Tennis Courts at http://cityofwinterset.org/park-facilities/.