In 1965, Louis Janes, an early advocate credited with naming the park wrote: " It's beautiful on any day, even a windy rather drab later fall one, becasue it has hills, streams, and long views . . . and quiet. It's a walking kind of park, where in spring and summer the air is filled with birdsong and the groundcover of bushes hums with twittering life. . . . Here's country at your doorstep, near enough for after-schol troop and group hikes and nature games and observations. No great caravans of cars necessary, with mothers transporting half a half-hour drive, then waiting." For almost half a century Hickory Hill Park has remained a bit of wilderness at Iowa City's back door--a place for exploration and adventrue, for solitude and contemplation.
The 98 acres that comprised the original Hickory Hill Park account for the southwestern half of the 185-acre park that exists today. The remaining land was added on, section by section, over the years. A major portion was added with the addition of a water retention dam by the Army of Engineers. Trails too were developed over time begining with the early efforts of youth crews and Boy Scouts in the 1960s. Crushed limestone paths were added in 2001 in order to make the park more accessible.
Over the years there have been many proposals for the development of Hickory Hill Park, including the additon of a 150-car parking lot, a ski slope, and a campground. The park has remained a passive natural area and, for better and sometimes worse, nature has been left to take its course. Hikers, joggers, dog walkers, birdwatchers, tree huggers, and, in winter, sledders and skiers, all share this park, staking out their own uses. For the most part we all get along.