But... just as we were approaching the corner that goes to Malvern on Hwy 34, I saw flashing lights ahead! The highway was closed & we were being diverted toward Malvern. I hadn't planned any secondary route - so ended up parking on a side street - thankful that I had enough phone service to look at Google Maps. I ended up taking a longer route, but once I picked up Hwy 59 - the directions got us there!
I wanted to be sure to park in the correct area. I'd thought that there were separate entrances for day use & camping - but both were accessed through the same drive going in. There is no fee for day riding - just a charge if you camp overnight. This park took years of work, the dedication of many volunteers & numerous grants from a variety of sources to accomplish.
|Bronco & Trailer~|
To say it was a totally stellar day isn't saying enough. I was so glad I'd decided to make the trip. Upper 50's with a nice breeze was perfect. Farah was excited, grabbing mouthfuls of grass at every opportunity. I thought about lounging her - but just put a foot in the stirrup & we were on our way.
To see signage welcoming Equestrians - is so Wonderful & rare these days! Maps were provided on the informative signage right at the entrance - but anyone who knows me - knows my directional challenges :-)
|South end dike~|
Joyce had mentioned crossing the dike to find the forested area where she plans to put in another trail - so we headed that way. Farah didn't like the sound of the outflow - I dismounted to get her past it.
|Huge home under construction near the SE corner of the area~|
Just across the dike - the house above loomed over the area. I have to wonder who's building it & why so large - it would more than rival any of the homes on the Eastside of Lake Washington in Bellevue.
|View from the east side~|
Once across, we found a 4-ft. wide mowed path along the shore here too. Joyce had explained that they keep the trails 4-ft. wide to distribute the wear across a wider area - avoiding the erosion that a narrower trail can create.
|Farah looks across~|
Finding a fence line - I decided to followed it north. My plan - if you could call it that - was to find the farthest edges of the park. I'd taken a good look at the layout - via Google Earth.
|Heading north, along the east fence line~|
It was just beautiful here - I was thinking to myself - that there would not be many trails, but was still hopeful for a few miles.
Before long we came to the north boundary & turned west~
There were many mowed trails over the top of this hill, we took several, ended up near the bottom, then turned & came back up to the top.
|Toward the northern end of the lake|
About the time I was wondering if we'd find a way across at the northern end of the lake, we came to a corner giving us the option of turning to the north again!
|We ended up here!|
These trails were Beautiful! Like riding in Narnia - for SW Iowa anyway!
|On the trail north~|
The footing was perfect - just perfect. Dry & Farah moved into a trot on her own.
|We hear something!|
I'd stopped to take a photo when we heard a truck horn? Then again? Then a voice; "Connie - is that you?" Joyce had found us! I told her that she reminds me so much of my friend Linda - who could find me anywhere :-) We followed her direction & met up at the picnic area accessed off 140th. So great to finally meet in person - soon we hope to ride - so I can see trails that I missed today!
We'd managed to find our way into what I think is the most beautiful section of the area! I can't say how much it did my soul good to be out in such a gorgeous woods. Farah trotted, then broke into a nice hand gallop - all on a loose rein.
|Wild Honeylocust (Gleditsia triacanthos|
The tree above is a native species. Not one I would plant & I cut several small ones down this last week. I was amazed at the lack of invasive plants here. At least that I can recognize so far. I only saw one wild grape which I've also discovered is a native & has been used as source rootstock for several cultivars. I did not see Greenbriar - the new shoots of which can be eaten!
|Back up on the SE hills~|
We took the trail through this NE wooded area & were sorry when it ended. Soon we were back in the open country & the lake was again in view. This time we took a different trail back to the south end of the park & came to the fence along the road there.
|Checking out 150th.|
We followed this trail back to the bottom of the dike, then up & across it. Joyce said we'd missed some trails in the upper NW corner - so we went that way.
|On a lower trail~|
When we were lower on the trail, we'd heard a truck leave from the dock & soon came to the road. A trail sign was across the way, we were happy to find it!
|Across the road to the dock~|
We found another covered picnic area at the top of a nice long trail along the northern edge. Farah flew up it & I had one of my first opportunities here to yell "Yippee"! :-)
More nice views here too, we could see back at where we'd been on the far side. Turning once more onto the trails, the one we were on circled us back down to where we'd crossed the road. At one point during our ride, Farah was walking along so wonderfully, I looked down at my Garmin to see that she was moving at an effortless 4.7mph.
I could tell by the sun that it was getting later in the afternoon & knew we had an hours drive back home. Here, it's not the traffic that takes the time - it's actually the miles to get from here to there! :-)
|Back in the Equestrian area~|
There was a water spicket & hose - what a nice amenity! I offered Farah a bucket of water which she ignored in favor of grazing. I decided to wash her down - some sweat mixed with dirt from her daily rolls...
As I asked her to load up - she started playing a new game... jumping back out of the trailer! She did this three times, before I got my rope out, tied it to the big door & managed to pull it shut with her still inside! I think she just wanted to stay & graze - heading back didn't suit her. Riding untied is a privilege - next time she pulls this - she will find herself tied in!
I called Butch - he was home - so we picked him up on the way back to Farah's stable. She was an absolute angel unloading for Dad! :-) Dinner at Toby Jacks was a great way to end a perfect day of riding! My only wish - would be to have this wonderful place (even any Equestrian place...) closer to home~