Malanaphy Springs

Malanaphy Springs Falls

Useful Information

Location: 2834 Bluffton Road, Decorah, IA 52101.
From Highway 52 north of Decorah turn off on Pole Line Road, after 3.6 km tzurn right on Bluffton Road. After 1.2 km Malanaphy Springs State Preserve on the right side, right before the Upper Iowa River bridge turn right on small parking lot. Trail 1.5 km/30 minutes through forest along Upper Iowa River to the spring.
(43.355248, -91.834877)
Open: no restrictions.
Fee: free.
Classification: KarstKarst Spring
Light: n/a
Dimension: T=15 °C (water).
Guided tours: self guided
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Address: Malanaphy Springs, 2834 Bluffton Road, Decorah, IA 52101.
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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Malanaphy Springs is a karst spring of the bedding spring type, the water is blocked by a layer of impermeable rock, forming a hanging water body in the karstified rock. There is probably a cave behind, but most likely there are only widened cracks which are not big enough to be entered. But the spring actually emerges from a cave, it flows out of a narrow canyon which formed by widening a crack in the rock. There is also a horizontal bedding plane, which was also widened and so the profile of the cave looks like a cross. The water flows out at the bottom of the canyon. It flows downhill in rapids and finally the lower portion of Malanaphy Springs Falls forms a small waterfall with growing rock, tufa which is deposited by the limestone rich water. This waterfall is about 3 m high, the spring is about 25 m above the river.

The small park has a single trail which is not signposted, obviously this is unnecessary because there is only this one trail. Most people seem to put emphasis on the waterfall, probably because Iowa is mostly flat and there are really few waterfalls at all. Also, the tufa formation at the lower fall is quite nice. However, we think the interesting thing is the spring which emerges from a small cave. And the fact that it flows rather strongly even in summer.

One mor comment: the address given under location is the nearby farm on the other side of the river, its just because the parking lot has no address. Do not start walking at the farm, there is no way to cross the river except the raod bridge. And as this is the U.S.A., you might be shot for trespassing. The short walk is very easy, nevertheless we recommend walking shoes.