Three cheers for this mild Iowa winter!
(Although a little snow on the trail could have looked lovely and this would be an excellent place to snowshoe/cross-country ski.) We headed south of Des Moines on Saturday to explore the Clanton Creek Natural Resource Area and get a little hiking in. We tried to do this hike about three years ago, but were thwarted when our car died on the side of the highway. I’m glad we finally made it!
We parked at the East Trail Head and followed the out-and-back main trail for a total of about eight miles. It felt much longer on the way out (isn’t that always the case?) but made for a good total distance. There’s also a two-mile loop you can access from the east side, but if you’re driving down from Des Moines I feel like you’d want to go the distance, right? The West Trail Head is very close to the 6-acre pond, if you’re into fishing. Here’s a map, although it doesn’t have miles marked and I have no idea what the purple dots represent. There are a few hike-in campsites, which I find exciting. I get super cranky-pants at campsites where we wind up next to teenagers whose idea of spending QT in nature is throwing beer cans into the fire. We will return for an overnight adventure, perhaps when the Madison County Winery tasting room is open!
The main trail makes for a hilly hike, past prairie grasses, through the forest and under some pine trees. It’s easy to follow, although we did not see any mile markers along the East-West route, and there are no maps at either trailhead. The trail crosses the creek in two or three places.
I would love to see a Boy Scout Troop take on this trail and outfit it with some maps, better mile markers and perhaps a trash bin at the parking areas, because we did see a small amount of litter around there.
It’s hard to believe that next week is February. This felt like a lucky November afternoon instead of late January! P.S. Did you know you can rent snowshoes at Active Endeavors? Last I checked, they were about $12 or so for the day.