Exploring the Parks and Nature Areas Around Sioux Falls

Sioux Falls has 76 named parks throughout the city that range from small sites suitable for neighborhood gatherings and playgrounds to large well developed nature centers such as Great Bear Recreational Park, Arrowhead Park, the Wegner Arboretum and East Sioux Falls Historical Site, and the linked park system along the Big Sioux River. The state provides outdoor recreation areas and state parks including the Big Sioux Recreation Area, Beaver Creek Nature Area, Lake Alvin Recreation Area, Newton Hills State Park, and the Outdoor Campus in Sioux Falls that is a joint city/state operation.

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Mary Jo Wegner Arboretum and East Sioux Falls Historical Site: Early Winter

Today, we went out to the Mary Jo Wegner Arboretum and East Sioux Falls Historical Site for our hike. The temperature was in the low 30s and the day was grey with a hint of an approaching “wintery mix” that has been forecast. We did not encounter anyone on this visit.
We began at the parking lot and crossed over to the old rail bed that extends east toward the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) building and the banks of the Big Sioux River. This pathway runs parallel to Highway 42 and is about 100 yards off the road.
The pathway intersects a road running into the arboretum site and curves over to the FOP building.
A trail moves down the slope toward a cultivated field along a curve of the river. We walked on a trail alongside the field heading toward the green maintenance shed for the park service.
This pathway across the field led up onto a gravel road that circles through the nature area, and we walked along this road past a shelter along a brook that runs through this part of the park.
There are two shelters within the park, one up on the main road near the visitor center with interpretive signage and the other down in the lowland along the brook. This area is popular with families, and there are picnic tables.
We continued through this area and crossed over the brook at a point leading back into the wooded area. A pathway continues through the woods, through some private property, and back up upon the old rail bed. Along the way, ruins of an old homestead are passed.
Up on the old rail bed again, the pathway moves east toward the main part of the park.
We have encountered deer on several occasions along this path. The path again runs parallel to Highway 42.
During nine or ten months of the year, this is our Sunday hike. Like most of our walks in the country, this hike takes us about an hour. There are great plans ahead for this nature area, and it will one day be one of the jewels of Sioux Falls. A plan is even envisioned that will link the arboretum with Arrowhead Park through a tunnel under Highway 42.

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