Chain O’ Lakes State Park: First Day Hike
Chain O’ Lakes State Park is most known for its nine connecting lakes that provide a number of recreational opportunities for visitors. Some of those opportunities include fishing, kayaking, canoeing, boating, and swimming at the beach. Even though some activities are more geared toward summer/warmer weather, winter also brings with it opportunities for fun. The park contains many great hiking trails that provide fantastic views of the lakes. Between the snow covered trails and the ice forming on the lakes, nature has a way of making winter a very beautiful season. This made Chain O’ Lakes the perfect place to attend a First Day Hike.
I knew my year was off to a great start, when not even a mile into the park I saw a barred owl swoop across the road in front of me.To my luck, it landed in a nearby tree. Before it flew away it was kind enough to pose for a few pictures. Before it took off, I was able to hear it call and even hear another owl answer in the distance.
The First Day Hike wasn’t until evening, so I spent the rest of the day hiking and exploring the park.
Ice Fisherman on Dock Lake
The Stanley Schoolhouse and original school bell
It was soon time for the hike. First Day Hikes were being held all over the state, but what made this hike special was that it was a luminaire hike. We were welcomed by Interpretive Naturalist, Leslie Arnold, and invited to help ourselves to hot chocolate. More and more hikers gathered as the sun began to sink over the tree tops. As the sun sank lower, the luminaries became even brighter through the snowy wood.
Once everyone was able to get their hot chocolate, Leslie began leading our group though the woods. It was a very beautiful evening, made even better by the luminaries lighting our way. Despite the cold, there were around 70 total hikers who came out to kick off the New Year. Overall, it was a very fun evening and I look forward to my next visit.