Hike the Wild tours glacial landmarks

Photo of people hiking

Freda Haffner Kettlehole

In the past, Dickinson County Conservation’s glacial landmark tour has only been open to students as a field trip.

However, beginning in June, naturalists will take members of the public on monthly visits to glacial landmarks during Hike the Wild.

“We enjoy doing our glacial landmark tour with our students, and we thought it would be fun to do it with an older crowd and spend more time at these sites,” said Bryanna Kuhlman, environmental education coordinator with the Dickinson County Conservation Board.

For each Hike the Wild, meet at 9:30 a.m. at the Dickinson County Nature Center in Okoboji and then caravan to that month’s hiking site.

The June 26 event will take the public to Cayler Prairie to explore the fertile soil left behind by the Des Moines Lobe of the Wisconsin Glacier.

“Cayler Prairie has been known to have more than 40 species of butterflies, and Dickinson County only has about 70 species total,” Kuhlman said. “Plus, it’s on the register of historical natural landmarks because it’s virgin prairie, and that’s exciting.”

The June hike will be medium difficulty as Cayler Prairie has long grass and no defined trails. Be prepared to walk on uneven terrain.

Photo of students

Silver Lake Fen

Hikers will then get to visit the Silver Lake Fen during the July 24 program.

“It’s going to be more of a site visit. We will talk about fens as an ecosystem, explore the flarks — the puddles within a fen — and the ground and talk about how the fen was formed,” Kuhlman said. “I really enjoy the flarks. I also enjoy that they do have some wetland plant species they don’t have everywhere, like lady slipper orchids.”

The glacial tour will head to Kettleson Hogsback on Aug. 28 to explore the Sunken Lake kettlehole and the esker that runs through the park. An esker is a long, winding ridge that was created by an under-glacial river.

The Sept. 25 event will be held at the Freda Haffner Kettlehole, and the Oct. 23 program will explore the Ocheyedan Mound, which is a glacial kame.

Kuhlman and naturalist Ashley Hansen are excited to teach people about the glacial history in the region.

“They may have been to these areas several times but maybe didn’t know how the landform came to be,” Kuhlman said. “I hope they get to see natural areas and enjoy them for what they are and learn how they came to be.”

To see the year’s Hike the Wild program schedule as well as the schedule of other free Dickinson County Conservation Board programs, visit our programs page. There, you can also learn more about glacial landmarks, or stop by the Dickinson County Nature Center to explore the new interactive glacial landmark tour exhibit. The nature center is located at 2279 170th St., Okoboji, and is open 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday.

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