Effigy Mounds North Unit - Hanging Rock
ElevationAscent: 890' 271 m
Descent: -889' -271 m
High: 1,005' 306 m
Low: 698' 213 m
GradeAvg Grade: 5% (3°)
Max Grade: 28% (16°)
Current trail conditions
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“Old-growth forest atop the high bluffs along the Mississippi River.”— Kenny Slocum
Trail becomes significantly more technical after the third scenic view, as maintenance occurs less often.
If you have time, attend a ranger program to learn more about this fascinating monument. It is without a doubt one of the most unique sites in the entire National Park Service, and the absolute definition of a hidden gem.
Shortly after the junction, the trail ceases its climb and becomes very gently rolling through lovely open forest. Past Fire Point, the trail becomes grassy and a little less obvious through a few mound groups. Out of respect for the mounds, please stay as close to the edge of the mowed areas as possible. You'll pass Great Bear (one of the largest mounds in the park, and the largest Effigy mound), and several more mounds before the trail runs adjacent to a large prairie. There is a junction to head straight, or branch right towards Twin Views. All the views are worth the trip, as they are just a few hundred yards "out of the way" from the main trail.
Passing twin views, hikers come to one more overlook at "Third Scenic View." After this, the trail begins to climb in and out of some steep ravines toward Hanging Rock. The journey out is more difficult than the return.
Hanging Rock itself is stunning. If you have time, spend a little while here and enjoy kettles of birds of prey along the Mississippi flyway. Bald eagles are abundant, as are turkey vultures in the summer. Fall migration is a real treat, with often dozens of Rough Legged Hawks, Red Shouldered Hawks, and Sharp Shinned hawks flocking together and visible from this viewpoint. Perched 400' over the river, Hanging Rock allows visitors to get up close to these birds as they drift lazily on thermals. Some birds fly so close you can hear the wind rustling in their feathers.
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Land Manager: NPS - Effigy Mounds National Monument