Hike 31-Jester Park, Polk County Conservation

Hike Details:

  • Date Hiked-8/6/17
  • Location:  Jester Park-Polk County Conservation
  • 1.4 Miles; 50 minutes
  • Hickory Ridge Trail

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This past weekend we had planned to get out to a location a little farther away.  We knew we had to make it a day trip but the park-Pammel State Park (managed by Madison County Conservation) had been on my list to get to this year.  Unfortunately we had a later start to the day so we ended up choosing a trail and park a little closer to home-Jester Park managed by Polk County Conservation.  This is also the park where we completed Hike #3 which makes this our second park where we have completed two hikes.

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View of Saylorville Lake. The water levels were so low. many times this whole area is covered in water.

When we first arrived at the park we drove through to check out the campgrounds.  With more than 168 campsites there are options for everyone.  There are 80 electric sites (none with water or sewer), 82 non-electric sites (we which are equestrian sites) and a handful of walkin sites.  We highlighted a few of our favorites sites with hopes to come and camp here some weekend.  Most of the sites are first come, first serve which I have a hard time with.  I want to know that I have a campsite when I show up at the campground, especially since most of the time we are showing up Friday evenings for a weekend outing.  The campground books one year in advance at My County Parks .  I peeked at the availability for the next year and our favorite site is a reservable one and it is full for next season about 50% of the weekends.  I guess if we want to camp there next season in that perfect site I need to get it on the calendar!

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After driving around for a bit we made our way to the trailhead which is right by the children’s natural playscape area.  It is also near the bison and elk enclosure.  The trail was .7 miles each way and was an in/out trail-I prefer loop trails, especially with the girls but this seemed to be the best trail for us that day.  It travels along a creek which due to lack of rain was acutally dry.   We were hoping to get in a little creek play time but since there was not water we just hiked on the trail.  The trail appeared to just have some large gravel laid down the trial which ended up being a big negative for us.  I think it will be nice when it is packed down more but Elsie kept slipping on the rocks on the downhill sections of the trail and then hurting herself on the sharp gravel.  There were quite a few tears on this hike.  It was also one of our first hikes we left the backpack carrier in the vehicle and Evie had to hike or be carried by us-no options for the carrier.  She did pretty good and stayed on foot most of the time.

After getting back to the trailhead we let the girls play awhile on the playscape.  Of course the water feature was the favorite.  Because it was later in the day there were very few people there and for awhile had the place to ourselves.  We didn’t stay for too long since it was close to supper time but the girls had time to enjoy it.  This wasn’t the first time we have been here and I know it won’t be the last.

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