I was really excited to share Clinton Lake with my fellow Master Naturalists. None of them had ever hiked it before, although many had wanted to for years. It really is a gem of a trail, offering challenging climbs on a 10 mile loop, that are difficult to find in the Midwest.

We’ve hiked the trail several times on our own, and with the Corn Desert group, but Master Naturalists love to stop and talk about all the wonderful discoveries along the way. This is how Arbor and I like to hike, so its just pure joy to have a group of friends that feel the same.

And we discovered many wonderful natural finds to include birds, animal tracks, fungi and plant life. There is just so much left to learn and I’m struggling to find the time to fit it all in.

This trip was this past December, so we were still in the thick of hunting season and needed to wear our blaze orange for visibility. I think it makes for some interesting photos.

We made our way through the hills and valleys to the halfway point, where we stopped for lunch. Its a great area with a picnic table and the launch point for kayaks and canoes, so the views are pretty nice. There is also a parking lot for the paddlers, and we had shuttled cars so that a couple of our beginner hikers could finish their hike here. It’s a terrific option that makes the trip more accessible to everyone.

It was a lot of fun to hike with these folks. Many we knew from our class, but hadn’t had the chance to really get to know them. One of the nice things about hiking in a group is that you get to pace yourself with one or two others and really talk. I find trekking to be a very social activity when I want it to be.

We made our way through forest and prairies, past ponds and floodplains. There are always amazing views and incredible things to see. I’m at a loss with these posts, because I want to share all of my photos, but there are way too many for a simple blog post.

Before we knew it, the loop was completed and we said our farewells. We look forward to hiking Clinton Lake again in April.