At every twist and turn in our county parks during the snowy, blustery months of winter lies the opportunity to enjoy this season to the fullest. Turn up the heat and hit the trails during these frosty months! Join our naturalists when they host a variety of activities throughout the season. From snowshoeing to cross country skiing, from ice fishing to winter hiking, we have it all for every interest, ability and age! Our online calendar is full of opportunities to get outdoors and explore a new skill or hobby. You can also keep updated on upcoming events and more by liking us on Facebook and following on Twitter.
Already have the know-how to set out on your own but you are in need of outfitting? We have rental equipment available just for you! Call us at Jester Park, Monday-Friday, at 515-323-5339 for snowshoes and cross-country ski gear needs. Skis, boots, and poles run $8/day, and snowshoes run $7/day.
Cross Country Ski Trails (trails will be groomed after a snowfall over six inches):
At Jester Park (ski trail map), over 5 miles of trails will lead skiers through the woods, near Saylorville Lake, and along the edge of the golf course. Shelter #2 serves at the trailhead.
Following the oxbows of the old Skunk River channel and winding through the woodlands, Chichaqua Bottoms Greenbelt (ski trail map - blue routes) is perfect for those preferring a flatter terrain. Many different loops will be groomed, all beginning from the campground.
Brown’s Woods, All trails are great for snowshoeing in this preserve Yellow Banks Park, Savanna Trail Easter Lake Park, Wymore Trail Fort Des Moines Park, Aspen and Bur Oak Trails Jester Park, Hickory Ridge Trail
Winter Recreation Tips
Start Warm, Stay Warm: Layers are a winter-enthusiast's friend! Bundle up your looser outerwear with snug-fitting base layers such as long underwear or synthetic wicking material that still allow for plenty of movement while retaining heat. Designer tags are not needed - stick to wool, fleece and synthetic materials (polyester, polyproplene, etc.) to keep you warm. Avoid cotton as sweat does not wick away as easily causing this material to lose its insulation properties when wet. Nothing puts a damper on a great winter hike than the quick chill that sets in under a damp cotton layer!
And don't forget your waterproof/windproof/breathable outer gear - this layer allows moisture to escape the body while preventing wind and any precipitation from reaching your skin.
Hot Hands and Feet: Make sure fingers and toes stay warm with proper gloves and socks. Pack along a set of handwarmers to slide into boots or mitts for an extra kick of heat if needed along the trail.
Fuel Up: Preparing for a fun-filled winter day requires more than just gearing up with the right equipment and clothing. Start the day right by energizing your body for the adventure ahead by properly fueling and hydrating. Consuming a proper mix of carbohydrates and proteins will make certain your tank remains full throughout your venture out into the cold. Starting and staying well-hydrated will ensure an enjoyable day by keeping you focused and energized. Pack a water bottle and snacks to keep you going.
Avoid the Burn: Snow is highly reflective. Be sure to apply sunscreen even on a cloudy day. You may not be aware of a burn until you're greeted by a red-faced reflection in the mirror the next day.
Image credit: Author Image