Nady Prairie Park

Native prairie restoration continues on the 48-acre plot of land between Waterworks Park and Pleasant Lake. The land is known as the Nady property because it was donated to the city by the Nady family. This area is being converted into native prairie grass, wetlands, and forest and will provide access to the west side of Pleasant Lake.

NadyKioskSign PrintFile1
Excerpts from article by Ron Blair in the Iowa Source, June 2021:

Little Prairie on the Trail: Take a Walk on the Wild Side

The journey began in 1999 as a group of Fairfield recreation enthusiasts sought to locate the out-of-town owner of property abutting the newly planned Fairfield Loop Trail. Luckily, we found our man—Robert McElhinney Nady, retired ISU professor of engineering, glider pilot, international businessman, and philanthropist.

The Fairfield land Bob owned had been in the McElhinney-Nady families since 1844, and although he was an absentee landlord (the 50 acres were cropped by a tenant farmer), he had withstood the onslaught of developers eager to create high-end residential housing. “Maximizing the value of the land” is how they put it. Because the land is prime real estate located between Silver Lakes and Lakeview Estates, it was valued at over $1 million.

But Bob wasn’t interested. Named after his maternal grandfather, Robert McElhinney, one of Fairfield’s founding citizens, he was emphatic that the land would never be sold for development or altered from its original state.

An early ad for X. Nady & Sons says, “We are Natives of France, Speak the Language, and do our Own Buying and Importing.” Bob came from solid stock: his paternal grandfather, Francois Xavier Nady, immigrated from the Alsace region of France and was the first importer of Percheron draft horses to Southeast Iowa. I put Bob in touch with the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation, the state’s pre-eminent conservation organization, and together they crafted a conservation easement, now held by the Jefferson County Conservation Board, that protected the land in perpetuity. It would never be built upon.

When Bob’s health began to fail in 2011, he and his family deeded the land to the City of Fairfield. After the appraisal report was received, I feared his family might not support his altruistic motives, but they backed his decision to donate the land without hesitation. Next, a mayor-appointed committee sprang to life and decided to restore the land to its original state, Iowa prairie. Yahoo! A big win for biodiversity and environmentalism.

But how to accomplish such a feat and where to obtain funding? Small towns don’t readily possess funding for such projects. The answer came from Doug Ensminger, of the local office of the Natural Resource Conservation Services (NRCS), a federal agency. The Nady land, Doug explained, having been farmed for decades, was eligible to apply for Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) status, a federal land conservation program. In exchange for a yearly rental payment, a landowner agrees to remove environmentally sensitive land from agricultural production and plant species that will improve environmental health and quality. Bingo!

The next step was to find a landscape architect who understood prairie restoration and design. Sources led us to Steve Brower from Burlington, an adherent of Otto Leopold, who had the knowledge and passion to work the Leopold philosophy within the required limitations of the CRP program. Alakazam! A Leopold mix, containing over 100 native Iowa grasses and forbs, was planted. Trails were planned, a master plan conceived.

The now-named Nady committee, with a diverse and knowledgeable spectrum of personalities and specialties, forged ahead. Kevin Andersen, DNR, was particularly adept at finding the right balance of seeding and mowing with weed burning. Mark Smith, owner of The Ride, is a professional burn specialist. Shawn Morrissey is director of the County Conservation Board. Naturalist Brittney Tiller and educator Kari Bede were essential to the development and strategy of sign design and placement.

North B St
Fairfield, Iowa 52556 

Petra Park

Petra Park, Fairfield’s sophisticated and urbane new plaza with eating areas and performance art space, is a fitting memorial for Petra Stanley, who died of cancer in 2016.
The formerly empty lot has been transformed, with welcoming red benches and raised plant boxes around the perimeter. Along one side is a long table for dining or visiting that can be used by visitors to get acquainted during their time in our community. The pergola in the center of this area features an oak leaf sculpture crafted from wood and metal which was inspired by Fairfield’s history as an oak savanna.
The Mirror With a Barre has been the most popular attraction at Petra Park, thanks to its highly polished stainless steel surface. People love it so much that they often stand in front of it for hours at a time and enjoy practicing their dance moves before an imaginary audience.

Corner of Main & Briggs St.
Fairfield, Iowa 52556 

Neff Wetlands

Neff Wetland was originally a wetland mitigation site for the DOT and that donation was made possible because of the collaboration of the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation. The area will be used for environmental purposes by Jefferson County Conservation. Over 100 different species of birds have been documented in the area.

This tract has excellent public access since the portion of the Fairfield Loop Trail runs through the center of the area.

Dave Neff purchased the 36 acres on the eastern edge of Fairfield in 1999, back when it was farmland. “Tadpoles were swimming in the bean field,” he said. “It didn’t want to be cropland. It wanted to be a wetland.”

Dave put in an application to the DOT’s wetland mitigation program, and with highway construction happening in adjacent Keokuk County, they were plunged into the thick of converting the field within their first year of ownership.

The Neff Wetland is already familiar to residents of Fairfield who frequent the crushed limestone path along the dike. It is bisected by part of the 16-mile Loop Trail that encircles the town of Fairfield, linking Lamson Woods State Preserve to the south with the trails heading to Chautauqua Park.

“This is a little piece of country life, with country sounds and fresh air,” Sheri Neff said. “You’ll see black snakes tangled in the cattails, sunning themselves. You can hear the coyotes at night crying and chasing. You’ll see ducklings being kicked out of the nest. There are deer tracks and trails weaving through. Our neighbor says it’s a sure sign of spring when he opens the windows and hears the chorus of frogs. It’s a chance to see what the different seasons bring.”

Between Mint Blvd and Glasgow Road
Fairfield, Iowa 

Whitham Woods

Created in 1889, as the original site of the C.W. Whitham Nursery, many of the original nursery plantings have grown to maturity creating an interesting diversification of plant materials at Whitham Woods. includes more than 111 different species, including oak, hickory, conifers, and fruit trees such as apple, peach, pear, and plum. Many of the original trees have matured and created an interesting and diverse habitat area. The land hosts deer, squirrels, rabbits, and songbirds. Whitham Woods also sports a four-acre prairie plot seeded with Big Blue Stem, Little Blue Stem, Indian Grass, Side Oats Grama, Switch Grass, and various native forbs.
Whitham Woods now boasts trails for hiking and cross-country skiing, plus access to a one-acre fishing pond, and a four-acre prairie plot for photography and general nature appreciation. The Fairfield Loop Trail winds through the southern half of the park.

Whitham Woods is located about 1 mile west of Fairfield on Highway 34.

Whitham Woods

1893 Business Highway 34
Fairfield, Iowa 52556 

4 Mile Hikes

Why go for a four mile walk?

Walking is a GREAT way to get some exercise without draining yourself of energy. The benefits of walking four miles a day are endless. Not only will your overall health improve,  it can also help mental wellbeing! Exercise is a great way to reduce stress and gain endorphins.

  • Lamson Loop

Bring your bug spray, binoculars, and sense of adventure for this two-mile romp through Lamson Woods State Preserve and the Neff Wetlands.Begin at the Lamson Woods trailhead near the three-way intersection of Fillmore Avenue, Park Street, and Mint Boulevard.This walk begins at a large grassy open area which is the perfect site for a picnic or a game of ultimate Frisbee.In the evenings of the warm summer months, a local hot-air balloonist frequently uses this green area to launch flights.

As you travel east on the trail, you will quickly enter the timber and find yourself on the Carl Zillman Bridge. This is the longest bridge in the Jefferson County Trails System.Pause for a moment and enjoy the serene beauty of Crow Creek as it courses under your feet.

Continue across the bridge and turn right through the gate at the first bend in the bridge.You have now entered Lamson Woods State Preserve, which is managed by the Iowa State Preserves Board. This is a populat bird-watching vantage point and has a gazebo perfect for birdwatching and resting. This trail is a primitive, natural-surfaced, single track trail.The trail is often wet, muddy, and has downed timber across it in places.Make your way through the woods, staying to the left whenever you come to a fork in the trail.You are sure to encounter mosquitoes, thorns, burrs, and many other joys of the forest habitat.

As you crest the top of the hill, you will emerge into an open pasture.This is a particularly dark area, which is perfect for viewing fireflies in the summer twilight, and stargazing on clear nights.Wind your way through the pasture and on more single track trail to eventually come parallel with Glasgow Road on your right.You soon come back to the Loop Trail proper.At this juncture you may turn left to continue back to the start, or extend the trip by continuing on the Loop Trail.

Walking back to the southwest on the Loop Trail, you are now in the Neff Wetlands.The trail in this location forms a dike to create the wetlands.The trail does flood during large spring rains.If you visit in early spring, you will be greeted by a deafening choir of frogs singing in the wetlands.

  • Maasdam Barns Trail

Have a love of history? Start your four mile walk at Maasdam Barns just south of the hospital.Maasdam Barns was a 20th-century draft-horse breeding business and the two barns on the premises were designed by the Louden Barn Design Division. After touring Maasdam Barns start your walk or preferred form of exercise west on the walking trail. Enjoy the Iowa weather and crops as you walk along the relatively flat trail. The trail is part of the 17-mile Loop Trail that Fairfield proudly built. When you reach mile marker two you can turn around and walk back to Maasdam Barns or keep walking along the trail.


  • Suburban Heights Four Mile Walk

Start your walk by driving to Suburban Heights Parking lot in Fairfield and parking your car. Once parked start your journey by walking west towards the loop trail. Once on the Loop Trail walk south on the pleasant trail to the two mile mark. Once at the two mile mark, walk north to the 3 ½ mile mark. If you wish to walk farther keep walking on the Loop Trail. If you wish to finish your walk, turn around and head back the same way you came to Suburban heights parking lot.


  • Whitam Woods Trail

Grab your binoculars, walking stick and love of the woods on this four mile walk on the Loop Trail through Whitam Woods. Starting at the entrance of Whitam Woods walk through the beautiful trail until the 5 ½ mile mark. Once at the 5 ½ mile mark turn around and walk to the 3 ½ mile mark. If you wish to continue exercising or viewing the magnificent nature of Fairfield you can continue walking on the Loop Trail. If you wish to finish your walk continue back to the entrance of Whitam woods.


  • BNSF Trail

Put on your walking shoes and get ready to work up a sweat on this four mile walk. Start your walk at the BNSF parking lot just north of Dexter Laundry Inc. Once in the parking lot walk south and west to the 5 ¼ mile mark. Once you have reached this mile mark, turn around and walk to the 7 ¼ mile mark. Once at this mile you can walk further on the trail or you can turn around and walk back to the BNSF parking lot.

  • Ferrell Gas 

Lace up your walking shoes and get ready to have some fun on this walk. Start your adventure at the Ferrell Gas parking lot, just north on highway #1. Once at your start destination walk west to the 7 mile mark. At this mile mark turn around and walk to the 9 mile mark. At the 9 mile mark you can continue to walk a longer distance or walk back to the Ferrell Gas parking lot to finish up your four mile walk.


  • Bonnifield Lake

Get ready to see some neat nature on your four mile walk by Bonnifield Lake in Waterworks Park. Start at the north parking lot at Bonnifield Lake and walk around the lake to the loop trail. While walking around the lake notice all the marvelous greenery and the gorgeous lake. Feel free to stop at the many benches along the trail and soak up the stunning nature that Fairfield has to offer. Once you have walked around the lake, walk east to the 9 ¾ mile mark on the Loop Trail. At this mile mark turn around and walk to the 8 ½ mile mark. At this mile mark you can continue trekking through the charming trail or can walk back to the parking lot to finish your four mile walk. If you feel like cooling off after your walk you can take a dip in one of the designated areas for swimming in Bonnifield Lake. Better yet, make an afternoon out of your walk and have a yummy picnic on the stunning grounds of Waterworks Park.


  • Walton

Grab your water bottle, love of exercising and nature on this four mile walk around the Walton area in Fairfield, Iowa. Start your journey at the Walton Club parking lot. Once parked walk north to the 9 3/4th mile marker on the Loop Trail. Enjoy the view of ponds and grasslands on this walk. At the 9 3/4th mile marker turn around and walk to the 11 ¾ mile marker. If you wish to keep exploring the area continue on the trail. If you wish to finish your four mile walk continue back to the Walton parking lot. If you are hungry or in need of a drink go the Walton Club for some delectable treats.


  • Start at Suburban Heights and JCP

Put on your walking shoes and grab your sunglasses and walk this four mile trip starting at Surburban Heights. Once at Suburban Heights walk west on Cedar View trail until you come to the west gate. Turn around and walk across Suburban Heights Road to where the trail splits and goes into Jefferson County Park or Chappell Studio.If you decide to continue walking into Jefferson County Park enjoy the nature that they have to offer with different animals native to Iowa and gorgeous plants and trees. If you have young ones along JCP has a few playgrounds that are awesome to play on. If you choose to end your walk turn around and walk back to Suburban Heights parking lot.

Main Location

Fairfield , IA 52556 

O.B. Nelson Skateboard Park

Thanks to the generous donation of a private donor, OB Nelson Park is the home to a 4,000 square foot modern skateable landscape. The skatepark design was created in collaboration with the local skateboarders of Fairfield who requested a facility that was balanced with both street and transition-style terrain. The final landscape features a multi-level bowl with a waterfall, tombstone extension and multiple hips, as well as a street section with ledges, rails and a curved manual pad.


Dawn to 10 pm

Main Location

South 2nd Street
Fairfield , IA 52556 

Central Park

Central Park is located in the heart of downtown Fairfield, Iowa, along West Burlington and North Main Street on the square in Fairfield.

Often the site of festivals, First Friday Art Walk, ceremonies, concerts and dance performances, Central Park is brightly lit with holiday decorations and Santa's Hut each December.

Contains bandstand gazebo, permanent benches, bronze sculpture, rose garden and walkways.

Main Location

Center of town square
Fairfield, IA 52556 

Lamson Woods State Preserve

Lamson Woods State Preserve – SE corner of Fairfield Golf Club.

Gorgeous, rustic wooded trails and ponds (no swimming). Connects to the Fairfield Loop Trail.

Lamson Woods is a 43-acre woodland preserve located on the southeast edge of Fairfield. This hilly, wooded area was willed to the city of Fairfield by Carrie Lamson Ross in 18930. Originally “Lamson’s Pasture” was a park that included Fairfield’s first golf course. The golf course was in a pasture for cows and pigs along a small woodland, and was dubbed “cow-pasture golf”. It was a favorite area for hiking and nature study for people of all ages. The woodland was dedicated as a biological state preserve in 1978.

Main Location

Mint Blvd
Fairfield, IA 52556 


Southwood Park

Southwood Park – Dogwood Drive. Playground, walking trails.

Main Location

Dogwood Drive
Fairfield, IA 52556 

Wilson Park

Wilson Park- Wilson Boulevard. Playground and shelter.

Main Location

Wilson Boulevard
Fairfield, IA 52556