Maquoketa Caves – Brunch & Hike

Mar 7, 2022 | 0 comments

By Theresa “Resa” Leppert

On Sunday, March 6, 2023, a small group of us got together for our spouse/family-friendly brunch and hike here in Maquoketa, Iowa.

7 Horses Restaurant for brunch.

It was a joy to meet some new folks and catch up with old friends.  Our venue was the amazing Decker House Hotel in the heart of downtown Maquoketa. 

The Decker House Hotel

The Decker House was built in 1856 by James Decker, an entrepreneur from Watertown, New York.  Over the years, it passed to different hands. Eventually, it was acquired by Nathan Woodward et. al. Shortly thereafter, it underwent a big renovation, including a full remodel of the bar in the basement. Hence, the beautiful pub “The Maquoketa Cave” was born.  The restaurant within the Decker has undergone the most recent remodel, and the 7 Horses Restaurant became a reality. 

Decker Owner Nathan Woodward and Artist Kes Urban, who was commissioned to do this beautiful portrait of James Decker.

The Maquoketa Cave Pub

Some of us did have an informal dinner and drink down in the pub Saturday night, but the “main event” was brunch on Sunday morning at the 7 Horses Restaurant.  They had a lovely all-you-can-eat brunch featuring many favorites, including chicken and waffles, biscuits and gravy, and my absolute favorite – bread pudding. Yum! 

The Maquoketa Cave, within the Decker House Hotel

Next time – hike, THEN eat!

In retrospect, from now on, my plan is to hike and then go to eat after.  Hiking on a full stomach (especially with all those STAIRS) was not the brightest idea I’ve ever had, lol.

There were 8 of us for brunch, including my husband (Chuck), my bestie (Laura) and her husband (Sean.)  We also had two ladies who came down from Milwaukee area, sisters Lynn and Sandy.  A new face was Deb P. who I discovered lives just down the highway from me, so I foresee many meetings in future!  Lastly, it was the lovely Karon Brown, our Illinois GC Guide, and her pup Khleo – and lastly me, Resa, your friendly neighborhood IA-WI GC Guide.

Hiking at Maquoketa Caves State Park

Our hike at Maquoketa Caves State Park didn’t quite turn out as expected.  I had gone early and checked out the trails (at least the first 100 yards anyway) and they were a bit mushy from the rain the day before, but seemed passable.  We got two thirds of the way down the wooden steps into the south valley, and found our way blocked by a huge tree that had come down, crushing the wooden steps/path.  A couple of young folk climbed over it and offered to help us all over it.  Unfortunately, it was about a 3-foot drop on the other side that we’d have had to climb up to get out of the valley, so that was a no-go. 

Time to make an executive decision.

The trail in the other direction was pure ice, so we made the executive decision to climb the stairs back out and go over the road to the other side, the north valley.  There we were able to go down the stairs and hike down a bit into the valley on that side and under the natural bridge, but were stopped there by icy rocks.  On a normal day, we’d be able to just go from rock to rock across the creek, but none of us were willing to chance a cold dip in icy water.

So, we climbed the stairs back out of the north side valley and walked up the road to the campground and checked that out, all of us planning a future event here when the weather is nicer.  All in all, it was a delightful visit with some lovely ladies and we all look forward to a Girl Camper event at this park some time next year!

Have you ever hiked or camped at the Maquoketa Caves?  What’s your favorite part of the park?

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Theresa “Resa” Leppert

Guide Manager

Guide, Iowa & Wisconsin


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