Hickory Bend Conservation Area is probably the most remote, and one of the most undeveloped areas in the county’s park system. It is managed exclusively for natural resources and wildlife.
The Flint River Trail skirts the eastern edge of the property and a spur off the trail at the very north end of the property goes up to a volunteer-built shelter at the top of a hill with a stunning view of the creek and valley below. This is the only developed site on the whole property. The rest of the area is left for wildlife, making it a popular destination for hunters and wildlife watchers. DMCC staff do plant the occasional food plot on the property to further enhance the wildlife benefit (including sometimes sunflowers for doves).
The original property consisted of a mostly forested 130-acre tract of land then called Thye Woods. The property was expanded by 52 acres in 2009 with funds from multiple Pheasants Forever chapters, local donors, and a Wildlife Habitat Stamp Grant. It was then renamed Hickory Bend in recognition of the mature hickories that dominate much of its forests and the U-shaped bend in Flint Creek directly south of the property.
In 2018, the Iowa Department of Transportation purchased on behalf of the county the 62 acres of adjacent fields to the southeast of the existing property to mitigate the stream and forest impacts from the Highway 61 four-lane project north of Burlington. As part of the mitigation, the DOT had contractors construct some shallow wetland basins and planted nearly the entire area to trees. The area was added to the existing complex, bringing the whole acreage to approximately 244 acres.
From Highway 61, turn west down Iowa City Road and go approximately 1.6 miles (the road will bend around to the north). Then turn left (west) on 155th St. and go approximately 2 miles. At the stop sign, turn right (north) and go approximately 0.3 miles. The access road will be on the left.