Photo by: Re.zin
Viewing the Wildlife of Pepin County
Birders, wildlife viewers, and hunters coming to Pepin County find a wealth of wildlife areas in which to get outdoors and get closer to nature. Meadows and grasslands, hardwood forests, and bottomlands, with plenty of edge habitats where wildlife can often be abundantly found. The edges of rivers and lakes or where the forests meet the grasslands allow wildlife the nearby protection of the woods with the opportunity to find food within the open areas. The many different ecological regions within Pepin County, allow for a variety of wildlife you might encounter.
This State Natural Area is part of the Tiffany Bottoms floodplain forest, one of the largest river deltas in the Midwest. It is also part of 8,000 acres of closed beaver/otter habitat. The area was created over 60 years ago to recognize how important beavers are to the land as their dams alter the habitat around them for the benefit of many other species. The Tiffany Bottoms are open for hiking and primitive camping by permit. Fishing, hunting, and trapping are also allowable within the bottoms. You won’t find much in the way of amenities when hiking into the Tiffany Bottoms. But for the adventurous, you may be awarded with an abundance of wildlife viewing opportunities, not just common game animals, but also rare raptors, great blue herons, and more.
There are only 6 bluffs along the Mississippi River that are home to the endangered Peregrine Falcon and Maiden Rock Bluff is one of them. This 400-foot bluff is also home to other raptors as well, you may see gyrfalcon, golden eagle, bald eagle, and turkey vulture. The rocky outcrops of the bluff face allow for perching points for the raptors while the Mississippi River below and the nearby dry prairie allow for feeding opportunities. There is a short hike from the parking area up the bluff. It is hilly, so although short, is not as easy as you might think, the view however is an exceptional bonus to your day of raptor viewing.
Accessible by canoe, this island offers the opportunity to find a secluded beach on the Chippewa River or Nine Mile Slough and enjoy watching the wildlife of this floodplain forest. Birding, in particular, is good where warblers are concerned. Cerulean, Black-and-white and Prothonotary warblers can all be found. Floodplain forests are all about the wildlife and the damp soils are rich in insects and amphibians which become food for birds, mink, raccoons, wood turtles, and more.
Quiet, undisturbed, nature is what you’ll find atop five-mile Bluff. There is a one-mile trail to the top with sweeping river views and it can be quite the hike, so be prepared. Hunters enjoy this Nature Area for turkey, ruffed grouse, and white-tailed deer, and wildlife viewers come for the large numbers of migrating hawks and eagles. The top of the bluff is a dry prairie which gives you unobstructed views of the Mississippi and Chippewa Rivers. The dry prairie is quite busy with prairie mice, prairie voles, ground squirrels, and other small mammals that offer a tempting stop for the migrating raptors.