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Waterloo State Recreation Area Bog

Waterloo State Recreation Area’s bog, or floating bog, is located just a short hike from the Discovery Center, at the end of The Bog Trail.  After hiking through forest, then wetland, you pass along a boardwalk into the bog, one of a number of unusual wetland formations in the area.  Just be sure to stay on the trail, as the muck in this area can be very, very deep!

A bog is formed over the top of a lake or pond.  As plants move in from the edges, getting thicker and thicker, soil gradually builds up on the plants until it appears to be relatively solid ground, but is really a partially, or fully covered lake or pond.  A unique characteristic of a floating bog is that, although you may have full-sized trees growing on the bog, it’s possible, by jumping up and down on some of the more solid areas, to actually make the trees shake.  This is something anyone who grew up in this area probably remembers from school field trips to the bog.

While visiting the bog, be sure to keep your eye out for dangerous, carnivores.  Carnivorous plants, that is.  Due to nutrient-poor soil, plants need to get their nutrients from other sources.  The pitcher plant, a low, ground-hugging plant, is common in this area, with a distinctive vase-like shape, filled with scented nectar.  Looking closer, you can see the inside surfaces of the pitcher is covered in fine, downward-pointing hairs.  Insects go into the plant for the liquid, but then can’t get out, due to the hairs.  The plant slowly dissolves them for food, making these plants true carnivores.

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