Since I had to cancel the group hike on the Plover River Segment of the Ice Age Trail due to recent heavy rains and flooding, Charlie and I headed out to Dells of the Eau Claire Segment to check out the trail conditions instead.
The Plover River and Eau Claire River are in close proximity, but this trail was likely to be less flooded than the Plover River area, so I figured we wouldn't have any trouble.
We started out at the south parking area at the county park and took the Forest Preserve Trail to where it intersects with the Ice Age Trail along the river. I love the Forest Preserve Trail because there are some really cool rock formations along that route and hardly ever any other people. Plus there are little streams and ponds that attract frogs and birds, making for an idyllic and peaceful spot to soak in the forest.
As you near the river, you can hear the roar of the water flowing over the huge rock formations. And with all the recent rain, the river is high and flowing fast.
Trail conditions were predictably mucky and wet in spots, but there was always a rock or tree root to help bypass those areas.
Some areas were far muddier and required a little more careful footwork to get around, but my boots stayed fairly dry. There were a few times where Charlie charged ahead through the wettest and deepest spots and I had no choice but to follow her since we were tethered together. After a few of these instances, I unbuckled her leash from me so that we could pick our own way through the mess and leash up again at the other side.
Most people who visit this park stick to the close trails within the park itself, but I highly encourage you to continue on the trail to the south marked with the yellow blazes and experience a part of the area that you may have missed before.
Don't get frustrated with all the rocks and roots decorating the trail and threatening to trip you every step of the way. Instead, slow down and appreciate their geological formations and the natural beauty that you have free access to.
Take in the winding river that can go from roaring rapids one minute to calm flowing waters the next.
Sit on an ancient rock and listen to birds flitting through the woods and the trickle of a small creek making its way to the river.
Enjoy our Earth.
VIDEO (crane and crows circling above):
VIDEO (bird song):
VIDEO (river view from Ice Age Trail):