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Winter Fun at Your County Parks

Winter is a great time to explore your county parks. Here are some ideas to help you stay active all season long.

Looking for some outdoor fun this winter? Explore your county parks! The great outdoors offers fun & exercise for everyone despite winter's chill. Here are some ideas to help you stay active this winter.

Winter Hiking

Hitchcock Nature Center Trails, Photo by Lisa Van Stratten

You might think of hiking as a warm weather activity but hitting the trails in winter is a great way to get some exercise, beat cabin fever, & explore a new side of your favorite parks. Without the cover of trees & foliage the landscape of southwestern Iowa comes into full view offering new sights. Fresh snow? That's the perfect time to hit the trails & spot animal tracks! Trails are open daily at Hitchcock Nature Center in Honey Creek, Arrowhead Park in Neola, & Botna Bend Park in Hancock. Each park offers its own unique views so make it a mission to explore them all this winter!

Worried about the cold? We have a couple tips.

  • Dress in layers
  • Invest in good boots & socks to stay warm
  • Don't skimp on the sunblock, sunburns can happen all year long
  • Bring hiking poles for extra traction
  • Bring extra snacks, you may burn more calories than expected in cold weather
  • Hike with a partner or tell someone about your hiking plan before heading out

Want some more great cold weather hiking tips? Check out this post from BearFootTheory.com

Sledding

Sledding is a great way to enjoy snow & get some exercise. Hitchcock Nature Center is a great place to bring your sled, toboggan, or snow tube to test your downhill skills. Hitchcock's notorious Chute trail is a challenge all year long because of its steep incline but during the winter it becomes a sledding paradise. This trail is located just north of the Loess Hills Lodge & can be accessed using the Fox Run Ridge trail head on the north side of our lodge parking area. Head north along Fox Run Ridge less than 1/8 of a mile, just past the Loess Hills Lodge & look for the first trail on your left. You can't miss it! 

Please bring your own sleds & dress for the weather. All sledding is at your own risk too so have fun but be safe.

Snowshoeing 

Looking for a new way to enjoy the outdoors? Try some snowshoes! Snowshoeing is a great way to enjoy a walk in a winter wonderland, especially if the snow is deep enough to be a hindrance to traditional hiking. Snowshoeing is also great exercise, allowing you to burn almost 1,000 calories an hour depending on your pace & terrain. 

Snowshoes are available for rental at Hitchcock Nature Center during regular welcome desk hours. The cost is $6.00 per pair per day & there must be a minimum of 4 to 6 inches of consistent snow cover for rentals to proceed. Click here for more information on snowshoe rentals at Hitchcock Nature Center. 

Winter Camping

Winter Camping at Hitchcock Nature Center, Photo by Lance Brisbois

Test your outdoor skills during a winter camping trip! Camping in winter takes a little extra preparation but it's a great way to enjoy the peace & quiet of the great outdoors. Campgrounds at Hitchcock Nature Center, Botna Bend Park, & Arrowhead Park remain open all year long & are great places to spend a night or two. Be aware that water access is limited during the winter months & all our modern showerhouses are closed. Campers must be prepared to provide their own water but pit toilets are available at all campgrounds throughout the winter season.

Looking for an even bigger challenge? Try a winter overnight at one of Hitchcock Nature Center's backcountry campsites. Pack your gear & hike out to one of seven remote campsites, each featuring a fire pit & grill. These campsites are open year round as well & require an advance reservation. Click here for details on backcountry camping at Hitchcock Nature Center. 

For those who prefer a roof over their heads during the winter months consider a visit to one of our cozy camping cabins at Hitchcock Nature Center or Arrowhead Park. Cabins are available all year long & are heated so they are a great place for a quiet get-away. Our camping cabins do not feature indoor plumbing though so guests will need to bring their own water for drinking & washing up & will need to make use of the pit toilets. 

We hope to see you at the park this winter & beyond! 

 

 

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What's on the Menu for Winter Wildlife (1/8/2021)
by Michelle Biodrowski, Naturalist

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Nature is More Awesome than a Video Game (12/24/2020)
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