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Trail Maintenance with the Loess Hills Nordic Ski Patrol

Posted on 5/1/2020
UPDATE 5/19/2020 LHNSP personnel & Hitchcock Nature Center staff have made the decision to cancel our Third Annual Trails Day event originally scheduled for May 30th. We hope to bring you another volunteer work day in the future. Thank you for your support.

Badger Ridge Trail at Hitchcock Nature Center is one of the most popular & picturesque trails in the entire park. Winding its way through reclaimed prairies this ridge-top trail gives some spectacular views of the Loess Hills but all this traffic leaves its mark on the trail. If you have been on this beautiful trail recently you may have noticed a short section of it has been closed & reseeded leaving a permanent re-routed section in place. As traffic through this area has increased damage to the trail surface has led to advanced erosion making this section of the trail unsafe. This amazing trail re-route helps us keep your visit safe & protect our fragile soil all at the same time, but re-routing a trail is tough work & this improvement is all thanks to the efforts of the Loess Hills Nordic Ski Patrol (LHNSP) & their volunteers! 

Badger Ridge Trail Photo Courtesy of Kevin Brown

But the work isn’t done just yet! Pottawattamie Conservation staff and the Loess Hills Nordic Ski Patrol have started to work closely on trail improvements like this re-route with the focus for the next couple of years on improvements to the Badger Ridge Trail.  

The goal of these efforts is twofold:

2018 Trails Day Volunteers
Courtesy of LHNSP

First, by rerouting & building new trails using sustainable trail design we aim to create a trail system that provides the user a safe & enjoyable hike & minimizes the need for costly annual maintenance. This is accomplished by creating meandering trails with short inclines that allows water to flow off the trail rather than pooling or causing erosion damage. Designing trails that are self-maintaining in this fashion decreases the materials & work hours needed to keep the trails safe allowing staff at the park more time to focus on other park improvements & programs. 

Our second goal is far reaching & long-term. We aim to implement a long-term, strategic plan to develop a trail system which provides a more scenic & enjoyable hike for park guests while taking advantage of long-term prairie restoration efforts. The Badger Ridge Trail improvements are the first step on this years-long journey. 

As we said, projects like this don’t happen overnight, they take time & volunteers just like you to make them a success. If you are interested in learning more about our trail improvement plan, trail construction & design, & volunteering with trail maintenance at Hitchcock Nature Center join the LHNSP during their Third Annual Trails Day event coming up on Saturday May 30th .  No pre-registration is needed to attend this event.  Volunteer sign-in begins at 9:00 a.m. at the Natural Areas Management office (The Barn) at Hitchcock Nature Center. Volunteers will attend a short program providing information on working with hand tools followed by a quick safety lesson. Following instruction all volunteers will head out to perform maintenance along the Badger Ridge Trail until we return to the Loess Hills Lodge at 1:00 p.m.

We have a few requests & recommendations for anyone planning on joining us on May 30th. 

  • Please wear long pants

  • Long sleeves are preferable

  • Wear closed toe shoes suitable for working outdoors

  • Please bring your own work gloves

We recommend volunteers bring sunscreen & insect repellent, a sun hat, sunglasses & a water bottle. Refilling stations will be available while we are out on the trails. 

We will be working with tools & safety is a priority, we ask that no children under 14 year of age attend this event.  Any minors in attendance will be under the supervision of their parent or guardian at all times. Thank you for understanding.

All applicable COVID-19 recommendations & guidelines will be observed during this event. Group size will be limited & social distancing will be observed at all times. 

For questions not answered above please check out the Loess Hills Nordic Ski Patrol on Facebook, visit their website, or email

See you on May 30th!

2019 Trails Day Volunteers Courtesy of LHNSP


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