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.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Spring Hiking Opportunities

Gitchie Manitou State Preserve on Iowa Side of the Big Sioux River

Area hiking locations are now opening up for pleasant strolls through the emerging spring transformation.  While the temperatures this week have been cold, with high temperatures only in the 20s, the snow has largely melted throughout the area. 
The Big Sioux River Flowing Through Gitchie Manitou
Last week we went on a three-mile hike through Gitchie Manitou State Preserve, just across the border along the Iowa side of the Big Sioux River.  The river was flowing freely; the temperature was just below freezing, so the ground had not become muddy. 
The Big Sioux River Flowing Through Gitchie Manitou
It was a magnificent stroll along the river and up to the quarry pond and old masonry structure nearby.  We saw lots of geese on the river and flying overhead. 
The Quarry Pond at Gitchie Manitou

Arrowhead Park on East Side of Sioux Falls

This afternoon, we went to Arrowhead Park, on the east side of Sioux Falls.  I visited the park early last week and found the south portion of the hard surface trail covered in ice. Now, however, the total 1.6-mile north and south loop combination is free of ice or snow, and there is no mud on the trail. 
The Quarry Pond at Arrowhead Park
Although it was chilly, this was a wonderful 40-minute stroll.  We stopped to watch the geese on the quarry ponds and flying overhead.  We saw only geese and ducks today.  There is generally a varied population of birdlife visible along this trail and in the deep ravines, but we didn’t see anything other than the waterfowl today.
Geese on the Edge of the Quarry Pond at Arrowhead Park
A lot of people visit Arrowhead Park to watch the waterfowl in the quarry ponds.  Once past the ponds, though, most of my walks have been solitary and contemplative, although this is also a great site for a companionable stroll.
Looking Over Big Sioux Valley from Arrowhead Park
So, the season of area hiking in our beautiful nature areas is upon us.  I find these walks much more satisfying that walking the neighborhood sidewalks or going to the gym. 
The Jasper Education Center Building Viewed from Arrowhead Park

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