Photo of a forest overlook with snow

Crunch, slide, pant. Crunch, slide, pant. Crunch, crunch, pant.

Those were about the only sounds interrupting the peaceful stillness at Horseshoe Bend Wildlife Area just south of Milford Tuesday.

The snow crunched beneath my feet as I walked, and about every other step partially slid down the first hill I was traversing. The uphill portion included the puffing and panting from me.

The snow is progressively melting through the area, but there are still wide patches of white with brown grasses peaking out. My favorite part of snow is when it is still fresh and new, before people walk on it or plows dirty it by piling it up with the mud underneath.

Photo of a deer hoof print in the snow

Although it was obvious by footprints, snowshoe prints and deer hoof prints that I was not the first one to walk around Horseshoe Bend after the snow fell, it was still quite clean and beautiful.

(Judd Wildlife Area is only a mile away!)

I parked at the warming house in the Winter Sports Area off 240th Street and walked to the old ski hill, taking hard steps down the hill to prevent a spill. At the bottom, I followed wide snowshoe tracks down to the water's edge. At least it was water earlier. Although some parts of the Little Sioux River area still open, this spot in particular had frozen over. It's almost like the river's mouth was hushed for the winter, the babbling of the water silenced as it hardened with the season's chill.

Photo of a frozen river

Bare branches and brown tree trunks forlornly looked out over the frozen expanse, like everything was in limbo for the next few months before spring breathes life back in and awakens nature again.

Photo of flower seed heads in the snow

However, not everything is asleep. The deer are out in search of food; birds are singing; and as I walked back to my car through the snow a couple of yellow dandelions made their presence known where the snow had melted away. Their tiny flowers give hope that winter might seem long some years, but we always have spring to look forward to.

Photo of dandelions in the wet grass

But first, we have winter to enjoy. Take advantage of the moderate temperatures and head outside to enjoy a nice stroll, maybe a nice stroll at Horseshoe Bend.

(Check out the Jahn Wildlife Area too.)

What is an oxbow?

If you look at an aerial of Horseshoe Bend Wildlife Area in Milford, you’ll see an area on the west that is a small body of water that juts off from the main meander of the Little Sioux River. This area is called an oxbow. Basically, this was once a part of the Little Sioux…

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Boredom Busters: Horseshoe Bend edition

Horseshoe Bend Wildlife Area has a myriad of offerings for those looking to recreate outdoors, but we wanted to share five of our favorite, including some ideas that are out of the ordinary. 1.Challenge someone to a race. The tubing hill at Horseshoe Bend is fun in the winter, but it can offer fun even…

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Westport Park: An Iowa Great Lakes gem

In June 1981, Dickinson County Conservation Board entered into a maintenance agreement to refresh an exhausted county gravel pit into a county park. It started as only six acres, so small it looks like only a dot on a map of the Iowa Great Lakes area. The original document included on a 10-year agreement, but…

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Top 10 winter activities in our county parks

We live in Iowa because we like seasons. If we didn’t like seeing leaves bud in the spring and fall in autumn, if we didn’t like to see snowflakes dust the ground, if we didn’t like to a warm fire outside on a cool evening, we would all live in the tropics. This winter has…

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A stroll through Westport Park

I hate to admit this publicly, but I had not been to Dickinson County Conservation’s Westport Park until yesterday. We are always a little surprised when people come into the nature center and have lived in the area for years without ever visiting before. However, it’s the same way with county parks. Some of our…

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A stroll through Judd Wildlife Area

At the end of summer, Snapchat had a feed where users from Iowa could post videos to share with the rest of the world. My husband and I took our dog on a walk through the Dickinson County Conservation Board’s Judd Wildlife Area south of Milford, and we took a short video of us walking…

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A stroll through the Little Sioux Savanna

The Dickinson County Conservation Board has two new parcels of land on 195th Avenue, south of County Road A-34 in Milford. We worked hard this summer at the Little Foote Forest parcel, attempting to eradicate some of the invasive garlic mustard on the plot, but I had yet to walk through the Little Sioux Savanna parcel…

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A stroll through Kenue Park

The scent of fall is in the air. To me the scent of fall means dry leaves, wood smoke and a hint of chill to the air. Take a breath and it awakens the spirit. My eyes open wider and search for the beautiful change of colors. My lungs take in the sweet aroma. On…

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