By Bailey Dohlman, Conservation Education Intern, Lime Creek Nature Center
Late summer is a great time to get outdoors and enjoy recreational activities. There are endless amounts of recreational opportunities right here in Cerro Gordo County for all ages and abilities whether it be a hike, a picnic, or an afternoon of fishing.
Some great activities to enjoy before summer fades include kayaking, fishing, hiking, and biking. Other popular activities include nature photography, birding, or simply nature-watching. This is just a short list of all the opportunities to get outdoors and enjoy late summer days.
If you are wondering where to go, Cerro Gordo County Conservation manages thirty-five natural areas that provide a wide variety of these recreational opportunities. These natural areas contain trails, lakes, ponds, wildlife viewing areas, rivers, and so much more. These areas give access to many recreational activities such as camping, canoeing and kayaking, fishing, prairie viewing, hiking, biking, and even geocaching.
If interested in fishing, Cerro Gordo County has many areas with rivers, lakes, and ponds. There are areas to fish on both the Winnebago River and the Shell Rock River. Along the Winnebago River, a few areas to fish include Kuhn Wildlife Area, Lime Creek Conservation Area, Winnebago Oxbow, and Spring Creek Preserve.
Along the Shell Rock River, Wilkinson Pioneer Park and the Shell Rock River Greenbelt provide a large area of river access for fishing. When fishing these two rivers, there are many common species of fish that are caught. These species include Channel Catfish, Smallmouth Bass, Northern Pike, Walleye, White Sucker, Common Carp, Yellow Bullhead, and Black Bullhead.
In addition to fishing the rivers, there are many areas that also offer fishing in a lake or a pond. Blair Meadows Preserve contains a 0.65-acre pond that is only accessible from foot. Bluebill Wildlife Area contains a 40-acre lake. This lake features both shore and boat fishing. Clarke Lake is 18-acre lake located on the east side of the Mike Zack Wildlife Area. Fin & Feather Lake, a 10-acre lake, is on the West side of the Mike Zack Wildlife Area. While fishing in ponds and lakes, some common species of fish to catch include Largemouth Bass, Bluegill, Green Sunfish, and Channel Catfish.
Canoeing and kayaking is a great way to enjoy the outdoors as well. While floating a river or lake, the opportunities to see wildlife is endless. While it may take some practice to be comfortable canoeing or kayaking, it can be a rewarding experience. There are opportunities to canoe and kayak both the Winnebago and Shell Rock River as well as many lakes within the county areas.
A few places to access the Winnebago River include Kuhn Wildlife Area, Winnebago Oxbow Wildlife Area, Averydale Access, and Goranson Access. A few places to access the Shell Rock River include Strand Park, Wilkinson Park, and Shell Rock River Greenbelt and Preserve. Typically, most paddlers travel around 2 to 3 miles per hour on a “normal” river outing so that can help when planning your trip.
There are also many areas to canoe or kayak the ponds and marshes within the county areas. Mallard Marsh, Zirbel Slough, and Bluebill Wildlife Area are great lakes and marshes to float and view a variety of habitats and wildlife.
Another great recreational experience is camping. Cerro Gordo County Conservation has many areas where camping is allowed. There are two primitive camp sites at Lime Creek Nature Area. These sites can be rented out through Lime Creek Nature Center. Primitive camping is also allowed at Shell Rock River Greenbelt and Preserve. Cerro Gordo County Conservation also manages three modern campgrounds: Ingebretson Park, Linn Grove Park, and Wilkinson Pioneer Park.
Cerro Gordo County Conservation has many trails throughout the county. These trails can be used for a variety of things including hiking, biking, and horseback riding. The trails can range from gravel, mowed, and paved and are in a variety of different habitats. These provide a fun way to explore the county and are great places to view wildlife, birds, and insects.
Late summer is a great time to get outdoors and enjoy recreational activities. While this is just a short list of all the opportunities available, there are so many activities to do here in Cerro Gordo County. Whether it is an activity you have done before or trying something new, recreational activities provide a great experience outdoors.
If you would like more information about the recreational opportunities that Cerro Gordo County Conservation has to offer please visit cgcounty.org to learn more about all of our areas and all the of the recreational opportunities that are close to home!