A whole park to myself
Ponca Travel Blog› entry 5 of 18 › view all entries
A took the beautiful afternoon off and went hiking in Ponca State Park in Nebraska. I got there a little late and it was mostly deserted. First stop was the Tower in Time fountain. The monument is to recognize the importance of water in the history of time and the natural history of the park. Right after I took my picture, the fountain was turned off (I guess they were waiting for me).
I hiked the Bigley's Ravine Trail that began along the Missouri River, up in the hills and wound its way through the forest and loess hills. The Three state overlook provided a gorgeous view of the wild, untamed Missouri River. Look north and you see what the Missouri looked like when Lewis and Clark passed this way in 1804.
The trail continued through a ravine lined with sweet smelling flowering trees and the occasional glimpse of the river below. And then suddenly the trail dumped me out on the road by the swimming pool. Where did the trail go? I wandered down the road and found a playground. Oh well, this is just as good! I tried my hand at the monkey bars - man its been a loooong time since I've crossed monkey bars. This set was even tall enough that my feet didn't touch the ground! I did make it, barely. The swings were fun, but the slide was a little slow.
On my way down the paved road, I found another trail head for the same trail - guess I'll take it. It went up, up, up the loess hill and back and forth through the woods. So pretty, yet it could have been anywhere. And then down a steep ravine to another paved road. And there the trail seemed to stop again. Now I really had no idea where I was. I decided to walk to the right. About 50 down the road I saw another steep ravine covered in leaves.
Turns out it was the trail and surprisingly I soon found myself back where I started. Yay! I hopped in my truck and went off in search of the river. There is a boat ramp there, as this park has access to the Missouri River National Recreation Area. There are some wonderful looking campsites down on the floodplain near the river. I also drove the loess hill loop and found the Old Oak Tree - reported to be a sapling in 1644. A core was drilled in 1964 to provide this information.
Well, back to my hotel, but first a stop to see the sunset!