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.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Wegner Arboretum/Perry Nature Area

The spring this year is certainly not advancing at the pace of last year, and we have just gone through a string of cold days with snow showers.  At last, though, we have a few days ahead with more normal temperatures.  Today, we decided to go out to the Wenger Arboretum/Perry Nature Area for a hike through the recently snow-free landscape.
This set of hiking trails is at the edge of Sioux Falls, just across from Arrowhead Park on the east side of the city.  Over the past few months, the Jasper Education Center has been completed and awaits only some final landscaping and a formal opening. 
As usual, we parked in front of the Jasper Center and set off down the old railbed toward the Big Sioux River as it flows past the park. 
Cutting down onto the open field just to the north of the FOP building, we walked along the service trail between the field and the trees that line the riverbank.  This is a trail popular with people taking their dogs out for a walk in the country.
We then moved up onto the gravel road that circles through the park and leads past a picnic shelter and over a small creek that flows into the Big Sioux River.  This creek has interesting features, including a small quartzite cliff near the road.
There is some ice and snow still in the deep shadows of a trail that leads past old East Sioux Falls foundations, so we moved up onto the old roadbed again and walked along this pathway back to the entrance road into the park.  Along the way, we spotted several robins on the ground.
Our hike this afternoon took about 45 minutes, and Finnegan, our 15-year miniature poodle was able to keep up just fine.  He seems to regain some of his youth when out sniffing around on one of our hikes.
So, the arboretum is okay for hiking now.  We are going to check out more of our favorite hiking areas within the area in the days ahead.  It is good to be out strolling through nature areas again.

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