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A Photographic Record of a Hike in the Loess Hills

On Top of Murry Hill

By Ed Perley

It was mid September, the air was clear and the weather was mild. My brother and I hiked south from Highway 301, (Between Little Sioux and Pisgah, Iowa), where it crosses the high ridge. We climbed the ridge to the summit (about 350 feet above the valley), and then down a side ridge extending out from the very steep south face of the hill. We hiked down to a cliff that slices across the ridge two thirds of the way down. It appeared to be passable, but we were not quite that ambitious.

The photographs show the process of our hike over the top of Murry hill, and then back the way we came. They start at the upper left hand corner and end at the lower right. The town of Little Sioux is visible in the distance in a few of the pictures.

The dry weather of the past weeks, the lateness of the season, and the steeper, more exposed slopes gave this area a much less lush apearance than that on our earlier 'Hike Up a High Ridge' (accessable from the Main Loess Hills Page). Even so, the encroachment of forest onto terrain previously limited to short grass prairie was very evident. Only twenty years ago, the steep southern slope of the hill was completely bare of trees, providing ideal growing conditions for yucca and other dry weather prairie vegetation. Now, it is almost completely hidden by trees. A similar encroachment is also present on the west face of Murry hill. The northern slopes, which are used as pasture, are still relatively clear, but new clumps of trees are appearing there too.

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Date last updated: January 2003