Sunday, March 21, 2021

Another 3 State Parks Saturday


We are truly enjoying our Tour of State Parks in Iowa! This weekend found us at Prairie Rose State Park, Lake Anita State Park, and Green Valley State Park. All were unique and all five of us had different favorites. The dog loved all of them, since they all had lakes, but was not impressed with the water temperature. He'll enjoy the lakes more once the water is a bit warmer! All parks were an easy drive from Des Moines (west on I80) and easy highway drives from each other. The minis did school work in between each park, our playlist blaring as we drove through the Iowa countryside. 

Despite some wind throughout the day, it was a perfect day for hiking! Our sunkissed faces agree with us.

We're having some issues with doggy anxiety in the car (not sickness, anxiety). We're playing around with different calming methods and Saturday's was Benadryl (which he needs now for allergies since we spend so much time outdoors in the spring and summer). This poor drugged up puppy could barely keep his eyes open to see what we were eating for breakfast! It didn't last long though. After an hour, he was moving and whining until we reached Prairie Rose State Park. He LOVES the car and "go bye bye," but he gets so stressed with it too.

We aim to hike 4-6 miles total in one day (since the pup is still a pup), so on the days we go to multiple state parks, we keep our hikes shorter. Our first park of the day was Prairie Rose in Harlan, Iowa. We chose to do the small lake loop, which is 2 miles long. The hike is easy, since it's on the prairie around the smaller part of the lake, but we didn't take into consideration that we were on the prairie and exposed to everything. It was cold, windy, and felt A LOT cooler than 52 degrees! We did this hike quickly, only pausing so the dog could smell the deer beds along the trail.

The park was quiet with very few people around. There is a longer lake loop trail that isn't completely open prairire. This would be a great spot for fishing or kayaking.

Lake Anita State Park was our next stop and another surprising one. The park is in town, features a large lake, camping, rv parking, and a paved trail around the entire lake (said to be about 4 1/2 miles, but it wouldn't surprise me if it was longer). We parked near a shelter, on a hill, and only hiked (just over) 1 mile here. We veered off of the trail for a bit to head to a pit toilet near a fishing area of the lake. The pit toilets are actually very clean right now and taken care of. Pre-Covid, you would be hard pressed to get me/us to use one, but we have yet to encounter a dirty pit toilet. They have been taken care of throughout the winter and seemd to be cleaned regularly. We most definitely carry our own hand sanitizer for when we're done, but every state park we've been to this year (and last year), have kept their bathrooms in good shape.

Anyways, enough about toilets. We let the dog play in the lake while the minis played Marco Polo in the empty parking lot. I had to walk in the lake a bit, so the dog could swim (he was still on a leash because that's Iowa law). The water was cold! I'm anxious for the water to warm up because I'm always the one to walk in the water with the dog!

We saw quite a few snakes in all of the parks! We only nearly stepped on two and the dog only played with one. 

Green Valley State Park in Creston, Iowa was my favorite of the day and probably one of my favorites in general. There is a lot to do here and was the busiest park of the day, although it is large so we were around no one. We walked on the fishing dock and hiked two miles on the lake loop trail (the trail is over 8 miles total and is absolutely gorgeous). We parked at the beach parking lot, hopped on the paved trail, and began walking towards the campgrounds. There are plenty of camping spots here, plus two playgrounds, many amenities including large shower houses and bathrooms (the plumbing isn't on right now due to possibly freezing pipes, but the campground was open), and three cabins to rent that seem to be open from May - October. Only half of the 8+ mile lake loop trail is paved and we wanted to walk on the unpaved trail. Once we got passed the campgrounds and three wooden cabins, the trail changed to grass. The trail isn't difficult and has no elevation changes. We had a great time on this trail and would happily come back to hike the whole trail in the future. However, this seems like such a recreational spot (there were plenty of boats on the lake already) that I imagine this park can get quite crowded, so we'll go in the off season.

Zeus tried to climb the tree with the kids, so he had to be held back!

They seemed to have cut some pine trees down and then dumped them in the lake. The large part of the lake looked clean (for Iowa standards, at least), but this part of the lake was a bit marshy and dirty.

We walked right by this on the way to the unpaved portion of the trail and only noticed it on our way back. The dog enjoyed a dip in the lake here too.

One mini liked Prairie Rose State Park the best because the hike was easy and short, two minis like Lake Anita because they played Marco Polo, and Hubs and I enjoyed Green Valley State Park the best. We're eagerly waiting for warmer lake weather, so we can bring the kayak out and do some more water activities at these state parks!