Incredible breathtaking views that span as far as the eye can see.
That is the best way to describe Jo Daviess Conservation Foundation’s (JDCF) site, Horseshoe Mound.
“The view captures history and the essence of the driftless region,” said JDCF’s Director of Development, Christie Trifone-Simon.
Just a short drive from downtown Galena, and located on the eastern gateway of the city, Horseshoe Mound has much to offer visitors. Along with spectacular three-state views, this 40-acre site has restored savannas, open woodland and a beautiful prairie butterfly garden.
Opened in 2014, Horseshoe Mound has already seen an outpouring of visitors in its first two years. So far, the main focus of the site has been efforts in restoration. Now the focus is shifting towards education, with goals of becoming the premiere JDCF site.
In the center of the main lookout is the gathering circle, which points out true north and the summer and winter solstices. Resembling Stonehenge, the area also features free viewing scopes, allowing you to get an up close look at the scenery.
There are three main trails on the site, ranging from soft rolling strolls through the prairie, to adventurous climbs down the mound to the base. Each trail exhibits a different, yet equally impressive, view.
As you take in the bird’s-eye view of the land, you may notice the abundance of blue birds or even take a trip down the bluebird trail. Twenty years ago, the bluebird population was dwindling in the area. They are thriving today because of the efforts led by Dick and Joan Harmet and other volunteers in their sponsorship of and assistance with the bluebird trail.
For those who like to bring out their inner treasure hunter, Horseshoe Mound invites you to take part in the Dorte Breckenridge Children’s Adventure. The adventure begins by finding a hidden door in a tree along the north end of the mound. Inside the door is a scroll reciting a tale intertwined with clues on where to look for the next scroll. With each scroll found, the story, written by local author Erin Thorn, continues to grow.
The view captures the history and essence of the driftless region.”
~ Christie Trifone-Simone
Geology is a large theme at Horseshoe Mound, and was a major interest of the late Gordon McKeague. McKeague had many memories of the land and spent much time there as he grew up. He and his wife, Marea McKeague, were great supporters of the development of the site.
Their love of the land and interest in geology lives on through the educational resources available on the site. You can learn more about the couple when visiting the gathering circle, where a plaque dedicated to them is located.