A whole park to myself

Ponca Travel Blog

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Towers of Time

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.

Wild, untamed Missouri River
  Look south and you see the beginning of the channilization that continues to the Gulf.  You can also see South Dakota and Iowa from here, but I wasn't sure which was where.

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.

Unchannelized Missouri River
  I thought I saw a path running through the playground, so I decided to follow that.  It took me past a picnic shelter and over to the archery range.  Hmm, still no trail.  Now what?  I guess I could take the same trail back, but I like variety and wanted new scenery. 

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.

Big sand bars in Missouri River
  Well, why not?  It wasn't marked, but it looked a lot like other parts of the trail.  So up I went, mentally recording my last will and testimony in case this was not the trail and I was never to return.

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!

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Towers of Time
Towers of Time
Wild, untamed Missouri River
Wild, untamed Missouri River
Unchannelized Missouri River
Unchannelized Missouri River
Big sand bars in Missouri River
Big sand bars in Missouri River
Me at the Missouri River overlook
Me at the Missouri River overlook
Bigleys Ravine trail
Bigley's Ravine trail
Missouri River framed
Missouri River framed
a wild monkey!
a wild monkey!
Never pass up a swingset!
Never pass up a swingset!
walking in the woods
walking in the woods
Some little butterfly heart flower
Some little butterfly heart flower
The trail goes up this ravine
The trail goes up this ravine
Caving banks
Caving banks
Loess hill
Loess hill
The perfect campsite!
The perfect campsite!
Missouri River from the floodplain
Missouri River from the floodplain
Big Oak Tree - born in 1644
Big Oak Tree - born in 1644
Ponca sign
Ponca sign
Memorial Bridge
Memorial Bridge
Crossing the Missouri
Crossing the Missouri
Ponca
photo by: alyssa_ob