Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Camping at Lake Kegonsa State Park

Lake Kegonsa State Park provides a nice venue for relaxing family camping trips. With a total of 4 to 5 miles of well-maintained hiking trails, two nice playgrounds, a beach, and a boat/canoe launch there is enough easy going fun to keep busy. However, none of the adventure is so big a challenge as to overwhelm the kids. 

With barely enough daylight to set up camp, we arrived. After brats for dinner, we enjoyed our campfire, and off to bed we went. 

We woke to a cold morning. I read by headlamp, waiting for enough daylight to hike and warm up. After my walk around the Prairie Trail, my daughter woke in the mood to go to the playground, where she thoroughly enjoyed herself. 

We ate oatmeal and pudgy pies for breakfast, enjoying the warm fire my husband built. Later we enjoyed a lunch of tortilla pizzas, and had fun playing in the leaves.

This trip our family enjoyed a day hike to the beach area to let our daughter ride her bike on the paved Lakeshore Trail. She very much enjoyed time on the playground. Then back to camp we hiked, our daughter walking her bike. 

Our family enjoyed the candle light hike along the White Oak Trail. The friends of the park host candlelight hikes before Halloween. My child loves the candles, as all kids do. She also relishes the adventure of being in the woods after dark, and the brave, accomplished feeling that follows.

The White Oak Trail provides an easy to moderate 1.2 mile hike through the forest through the trees. The White Oak Trail is wide and well maintained, and gently sloping in most areas. A relatively safe venue for a night hike.

In the morning, I forced myself to stay in the tent as late as I could, being that it was quite cold outside. When I rose, I read while waiting for daylight. While still dark Owls hooted. As the owls stopped, I heard a loon, and set off to the lake to see it. I decided to hike all the little trails in the park other than the White Oak trail while my family slept. 

Starting at the Prairie Trail, I watched the sunrise as I walked. The Prairie Trail is covered with crushed limestone, and is flat, making for an easy hike. It can be short looped (0.7 miles) or taken around the group campsite (1.3) miles. 

In the spring and summer birding is excellent on the Prairie Trail. I enjoy spotting many bluebirds, hawks, and swallows while hiking this trail in May. This cool Autumn morning proved especially beautiful on this trail. The reds and yellows of the surrounding trees provided contrast to the frost covered prairie fields. 

Hiking from the Prairie Trail, across the road to the trails to the east that travel through the fields near the park entrance, I started a group of 3 deer, then a few minutes later a single deer. I took the trail to the beach, and on the way to the beach I sidetracked, circling around the Bluebird trail where I spotted 3 deer. Perhaps the group of 3 I had startled earlier in the field. 

Traveling downhill from the upper picnic area, I walked the beach to the Lakeshore Trail, then headed over to the Oak Knoll loops. The morning frost coated grass and leaves, providing a wonderland appearance. The Lakeshore Trail is an easy paved ½ mile, and the Oak Knoll loops are easy grassy 0.2 and 0.4 miles loops. The bridge between the Lakeshore Trail and the trail to the Oak Knoll loops offers a gorgeous vantage point for waterfowl watching and photography.

I never did see the loon I had been looking for, but I did hear it a few times. I've never seen loon around there before, mainly geese and ducks. The hike warmed me up and satisfied my cravings for nature's beauty and solitude.

Hiking back to our campsite, I thought about cooking a warm breakfast of bacon and eggs breakfast for my family. We ended up having oatmeal, peanut butter toast, eggs with cheese, and bacon. The sun warmed our campsite, and with the weather looking up and our stomachs full, we packed up camp and headed home.

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