Today was a gorgeous spring day. It was not quite 80 degrees, so not too hot yet. It was one of those days where I had a great desire to get outside. I floated some ideas to Kevin: take the dog for a walk around the neighborhood, bike to Red’s for lunch, kayak out at Lake MacBride, or go for a casual hike.
We chose the hiking option.
Lake MacBride is located in Solon, Iowa. It offers plenty for everyone: day use picnic shelters, “modern” and primitive campsites, hiking trails, boat ramps, fishing spots, and more.
There are two areas- Lake MacBride State Park, and also MacBride Nature Recreation Area.
It has been two years since we’ve been out hiking at Lake MacBride, lately we’ve been going kayaking (at the State Park side) when we head out there. Kevin didn’t even get to go out there this winter because there was never enough snow to cross country ski.
Our hiking took place at the Recreation Area. (That’s also where you can cross country ski in the winter.)
The Raptor Center is also in this area, but since we take the dog with us, we have never been able to visit.
Our day was really relaxed. After arriving in the parking lot, we quickly used the facilities and set off for our day. Since we’ve only ever camped in the state park, we decided to use today to check out the various campsites in the recreation area. These are booked through the University of Iowa. The “Fox” campsites cost $10 a night and the “Wolf” campsites cost $20.
We headed towards the Fox campsites first. From the main parking lot, it’s a quick walk to the limited Fox parking (1 car per site) and then a walk in to the sites. These sites are very small- our large tent would likely not fit on most of them and there isn’t room to do much, like toss a Frisbee around. There is heavy tree cover so fires (in provided fire rings) would need to be kept small.
Fox 1 is a very short walk from the parking, so typical “Cadillac Camping” supplies could easily be walked in.
Our favorite of the sites though was Fox 6, the only one we thought might be large enough for our large tent. And I’ve gotten to the point where I like to camp comfortably, so I’m a fan of the large tent that allows me to stand up and really spread out.
When we finished looking at these camp sites, we turned around and went back to the main parking lot. Elsa was already panting quite a bit, so we got her some water, and then headed off the other direction to hike the trails we generally go on.
Although there were a lot of cars in the parking lot, we only saw other people a few times. It was lovely solitude, just the sounds of the animals in the woods and a light breeze coming off the water.
The main thing to see was small flowers, and lots of downed trees. It’s a bit unbelievable to me that these trails double for cross-country skiing, because while the walk isn’t too steep, on skis it would be!
We took the trail to the Wolf campsites. These are also walk-in campsites, but again only a short walk from their parking lot. These are much larger than the Fox sites, but I wasn’t too impressed.The largest of the sites, Wolf 5, the hiking trail cuts through, and I don’t like that. When I’m in a campsite, it’s my home- and people who aren’t invited in shouldn’t come in.
A lot of the others were quite slanted. We thought Wolf 4 might be an okay location for future camping.
And Wolf 1 is right off the road, so you see all the cars coming and going.
A large picnic shelter is also near Wolf 1. The Wolf campsites have room for multiple tents and have some space for kids (or adults) to run and play. The trees aren’t so low, so you could have a bigger fire and remain safe.
We spent a little more than an hour wandering around. It was an absolutely lovely afternoon.