Ascent of Owls Head on 2017-05-17

Climber: Dennis Stewart

Other People:Solo Ascent
Only Party on Mountain
Date:Wednesday, May 17, 2017
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Owls Head
    Elevation:989 ft / 301 m

Ascent Trip Report

A view of Owls Head from a distance is not like any other highpoint you will probably see in Iowa. This steep conical shaped mound is a surprising sight. I arrived south of Owls Head and saw a keep out sign in the pasture I needed to cross. Since my car would need to be parked beside this pasture and felt I needed to get permission first. Fortunately, a man fishing at the stream just west of the mound was able to tell me where the owner, Dave, lived, however, he was not home and not working at his property across the road. I returned to the area south of the mound again just in time to see a man riding on an ATV across the pasture. I got his attention and he turned out to be Dave, the owner. He was very friendly and we talked for nearly 30 minutes before I started the steep climb. I was told there was a trail all the way to the summit, but it faded out quickly and I had to make a steep bushwhacking ascent all the way to the summit ridgeline, which took 20 minutes even though it was well less than .2 mile. From here it was less than 500 feet northeast to the highpoint, which fortunately had a trail all the way, but there was no view, so it is worth the effort to climb to the lower highpoint on the southwest end of the summit ridgeline where the view to the south and west are great. It only took me 3 minutes to hike there from the actual highpoint. I was not looking forward to the steep descent, but just when I got started I found a trail I did not notice during my ascent. I was able to follow this route all the way to the pasture and made it back to my car in just 10 minutes. It is easy to miss this trail because a more obvious trail is encountered first, which heads west and bypasses the less obvious turnoff for the correct ascent path north. I took this GPS reading at the beginning of the proper ascent trail: 43.42031 N 91.39111 W Find this trail and you will have a much more pleasant ascent than I did. My entire trip took 43 minutes and I covered a total of .47 miles. This was a surprising climb for an Iowa highpoint and it is a shame it isn't the actual state highpoint.
Summary Total Data
    Route Conditions:
Unmaintained Trail, Open Country, Bushwhack, Scramble

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