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Park Trails

at Battle of Athens State Historic Site

Mill Trail

  • Hiking

Length: .30 Mile View map

This trail, which is short but scenic, gives a close-up view of the mill foundation and the Des Moines River. The trail follows portions of Stewart, Water and Thome Streets in the historic 19th century town of Athens. This area was the original main business district before it was moved to Spring Street due to constant flooding and ice jams on the river. The Thome Benning house is located on the bluff above the trail. Portions of the trail follow the Des Moines River and pass remains of a mid 19th century mill. This is one of several mill structures that stood at this location and were built in the mid 1850s. It was a grist and textile mill powered by water harnessed from a lock and dam system. The mill ran until the turn of the century. During the months of October through March, bald eagles may be viewed along the river section, where both mature and fledgling eagles feed.  Moderately steep inclines, rocks and low-lying ground may make this trail slippery and muddy during inclement weather. 

Length Estimated Hiking Time Type Blazes Trailhead
.30 Mile 15 minutes, one way Linear Blue  

Snow Trillium Trail

  • Hiking

Length: 2 Miles View map

This trail starts in an upland forest that is fairly level and dry. At the apex of where the trail first splits, there is a small stream crossing. This stream only runs in rainy weather and is easily forded. The right side of the loop runs in the upland forest and stays on fairly level terrain. A few hundred yards before the right side meets with the white connector trail, there are steep drop offs and cliff areas that drop into Stallion Branch. A wide variety of native woodland plants can be viewed in this section which is at its best early to mid spring. The dominant trees are hickory, walnut and oak. This is one of the most scenic portions of the trail. In the spring, small waterfalls cascade down the rock walls to Stallion Branch and during winter these form cascades of ice. The white connector has a large stream to ford with many rocks to traverse. During high amounts of rain, it cannot be forded. The white connector ascends a steep valley leading onto the historic battlefield. 

If you wish to bypass the white connector and continue along the main trail path, you will find yourself traversing the most rugged portion of Snow Trillium Trail. Carpets of snow trillium and other woodland plants hug the slopes of this portion of the trail along with a diverse group of ferns. Deer and turkey, plus the occasional glimpse of owls and bobcats, can be seen in this section. This portion has several small ravines with dry stream beds that only flow during heavy rains. Two of the ravines are steeper that 10 percent and require a short, strenuous hike out of the stream bed.

Once on the bluff tops, the views up and down the Des Moines River valley are extensive. This area was home to the Sac and Fox tribes through the early part of the 19th century. Halfway through this section on top of the river bluff is a series of sinkholes that the trail passes within a few feet. Sinkholes are created when a portion of limestone in a cave system collapses creating a surface depression. Continuing on, you will reenter the upland forest before rejoining the main entry section and heading back to the parking area. 

Length Estimated Hiking Time Type Blazes Trailhead
2 Miles 1 hour, 30 minutes Loop Orange

At the kiosk parking lot near the playground