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Malanaphy Springs State Preserve is located on the Paleozoic Plateau landform region and contains a rugged forest, a large spring and a waterfall. Visitors can follow a trail from the parking area to a spring flowing from a cliff's opening. Visitors are also encouraged to visit the beautiful 10 foot waterfall, which is at the end of a series of cascading falls flowing over a porous lime deposit at their base and emptying into the Upper Iowa River.
The steep slopes contain a forest with many rock outcrops throughout. The preserve houses more than 300 native vascular plants including sugar maple and basswood in the forest canopy and ironwood in the understory. Although there are dozens of springs which flow into the waters along your float from Bluffton to Decorah, Malanaphy Springs is the most well-known spring along the Upper Iowa River.
This beautiful landmark is best viewed from the the water. When referring to the Upper Iowa River Canoe Guide, Malanaphy Springs is just short of bridge 10 on your float down from Bluffton, IA. You can rent canoes, kayaks, or tubes from Randy's Bluffton Store (see their listing under recreation). If you have your own watercraft, it's a great idea to start at Randy's, get supplies and ask for any float updates! Their friendly staff will be more than happy to help you out.
To view the spring from above, take Pole Line Road Northwest out of Decorah off of US Hwy 52. Turn right onto Bluffton Road by crossing over the Upper Iowa River. Just before you get to the next bridge, park in a small designated area on the right hand side of the road. Here is the Malanaphy Springs trailhead which will lead you about a mile to the overlook.