Maquoketa River Water Trail
The Maquoketa Water Trail in Jones County is the most popular and scenic section of water trail in Iowa. This water trail includes the Mon Maq Dam in Monticello and the Pictured Rocks Wildlife Management Area which is located approximately 8 miles downstream of Monticello. Trail users and local residents alike were concerned about the impact of the high level of use on the area. During peak usage time—weekends between Memorial Day and Labor Day—over 350 rented and privately owned canoes and kayaks and over 100 tubes were staged at the sites each day. A significant challenge of this project was locating the site amenities to accommodate the existing high level of use and frequent flooding, while still preserving the sensitive natural and cultural resources of the area. This included maintaining the historical remnants of the former East Monticello Mill which was built on the site in 1853.
In order to meet the demand during this peak usage period, several amenity improvements were developed for the areas. A new pavilion, restrooms, two gathering areas, parking accommodations, signage, walkways, paths, and trails for pedestrian use were added. The concrete foundations and weir sections from the demolished steam driven mill became part of the support elements for an observation deck. There are well defined specific use areas yet sensitive components of the native landscape were preserved or restored.
The improvements provide convenient access and service for the many intense recreational users while preserving the valuable natural and cultural resources for students and future generations. Shortly after the project was completed in July 2010, a breach in nearby Lake Delhi Dam caused record breaking flooding to this area. The improvements allowed the waters to rise and recede with no structural damage to the amenities.