As Fall brings crisp air and colorful landscapes, Carroll County becomes a treasure of outdoor activities. Whether you are a hunter, hiker or biker, Carroll County has outdoor recreation everyone can enjoy!
Centered around the intersection of US Highways 30 and 71, Carroll County is the regional hub for west-central Iowa economic activity. It ranks as one of the highest livestock-producing counties in Iowa and employs over 2,000 manufacturing-segment workers. Yet, the county’s best kept secrets may be its many opportunities for outdoor adventure or relaxation. The Carroll County Conservation Board manages 27 areas totaling over 2,700 acres for public use, wildlife habitat, and natural areas. Major recreation areas within the Carroll County Conservation system include Great Western Park, the Sauk Rail Trail and Swan Lake State Park.
One of the most valued treasures for Carroll County residents is fall hunting. Deer and pheasant hunting dominate the scene, with waterfowl hunting available as well. While hunting season generally opens in October, specific seasons and regulations can be found at the Iowa DNR website.
The jewel of Carroll County public hunting areas is Manning’s Great Western Park. It consists of a seasonal campground, lake and 30 acres of public upland hunting land. It also includes a rifle range, which is available year-round, except during the pheasant hunting season. Deer hunting is popular around Glidden, with over 150 acres of public hunting land at Dickson Timber Park and 100 acres at Bennett Access Park. Daniel Davis Timer Park in Dedham has 70 acres of prime first hunting land. Hazel Brush Wildlife Area, near Carroll, consists of nearly 120 acres of land suitable for both deer and pheasant hunting.
For those seeking a waterfowl hunting experience, the Iowa DNR does have a WIldlife Management Area at Carroll County’s Artesian Lake. The 95-acre plot is two-thirds marshland and one-third timber, making it an ideal location.
Several local businesses are actively involved in the fall outdoors opportunities in Carroll. Volquartsen Firearms, Inc. is a firearms manufacturer specializing in rimfire rifles, pistols and aftermarket parts. Its products are designed for shooters ranging from small game hunters to world champion competitive shooters.
“Shooting, in particular rimfire shooting, is something the entire family can enjoy,” said president Scott Volquartsen. “Rimfire calibers offer less recoil, less noise, and ammunition is typically less expensive, so for those reasons, rimfire shooting is a great way to introduce new people to the sport.”
While they do offer direct-to-consumer sales, the company has built a network of worldwide dealers for their products to all 50 states and internationally. That success is largely due to the local workforce, said Volquartsen.
“The work ethic, loyalty, and willingness of our employees to learn is not found everywhere but something we have found commonplace in Carroll County,” he said. “That gives us an advantage over many other businesses similar to ours throughout the country in not only being able to find employees as we grow but allowing our business to thrive because of them.”
Another local business is Wendl's Weapons, a popular gun shop and indoor rifle range in Carroll that can assist those participating in hunting activities. The indoor range has six 25-yard lanes along with two similar planes for archery. Classes led by certified trainers are available for all levels of experience.
Hiking, Biking and Camping
Fall is also the perfect time to enjoy biking, hiking and other general activities in Carroll County. The Sauk Rail Trail is a 33-mile multi-use recreational trail running from Swan Lake State Park to Blackhawk State Park. The entirety of the trail surface is either concrete or asphalt and is commonly used for walking, biking and running. One greatly appreciated feature of the trail is the location of seven Fix-It Stations, which include pumps and tools that are quite handy for bicyclists in need! Segments of the trail are also open to hunting, so it is always important to be knowledgeable of the hunting seasons.
Swan Lake State Park is also managed by the Carroll County Conservation board and encompasses 510 acres, including the 110-acre Swan Lake. The park is popular for wildlife viewing, as the wooded area surrounding the lake provides protection for deer, wild turkey, small mammals and a variety of birds. The park has the largest campground in Carroll County, with 44 full-hook up sites including 20 long term sites, many electric and water sites and a large area for tent camping. It has its own biking and hiking rails, along with two shower houses, dump station and boat rentals.
Fall is always a perfect time to experience the wonders of nature, but never has this been more fitting in this year of COVID-19 crisis restrictions. Whether your preference is for chasing that elusive deer or pheasant, or meandering through the rolling local hillsides, Carroll County has something for everyone!