Glacier Creek Preserve
|Image courtesy of the University of Nebraska.|
Recently, my son and I went for an evening drive one weekday when I felt the need to get out of the house. We went up to Standing Bear Lake, a local man-made lake, where we walked around one of the footpaths and enjoyed the views and the breeze off the water. After we got back to the car, I wasn't ready to go home just yet, so I fell back on an old trick: checking Google Maps. I have found many neat places to visit and hike over the years just by scouring Maps and this time was no different. I discovered that not far away was Glacier Creek Preserve, a place I had wanted to visit at one point but had simply forgotten about.
So, not expecting much but wanting something more to do, we made our way over there next. Much to my surprise, it was more than I expected and quite beautiful. An old farm sits on the property where it seems a caretaker/ranger lives in the house, while the barn is now used as a visitor's center/outreach/base post (temporarily closed due to the pandemic) and is where visitor parking is. The preserve itself is managed by the Biology department of the University of Nebraska at Omaha (where I work) and sits on 525 acres. We could see the expanse of native flora and fauna and there was a trail right at the entrance.
|A look back at the barn not long into the trail.|
Since it was late when we arrived and getting darker by the minute, we left, but I vowed to come back the next day to hike the trail. So, with Eva in tow the next afternoon, I made good on that vow. The trail starts at the barn and lightly meanders up a hill. The views were stunning and the tall grass waved in the breeze.
|If you look just left of center, you can see the trail wind ever-so-slightly for what seems like miles.|
It was cooler this day than all the days around it, making for a pleasant hike. The sky was also overcast for most of the time although it sure didn't deter the mosquitos! When we reached the top of the hill, the trail turns right. After you go a little way over another short incline, you can see just how far the trail snakes off into the distance.
When we reached the end of this section of the trail, you can either turn right onto the main trail, or you can take a short detour to the left to follow this "Cemetery" sign. I am all about exploring and cemeteries, so we took the detour to the left.
What we found was an undisturbed yet protected pioneer cemetery. I've encountered a handful of pioneer cemeteries over the years, and while they're usually small and contain typically a few old weathered graves, they're a part of history. This was one of a couple of pioneer cemeteries I've been to that actually had a plaque marker to give you more information.
The cemetery is small and overgrown, so there's not much to see, but I did snap a photo of the grave of Charles and August Kobs. The sun had come up, shining down on the grave, and creating the fun rainbow effect in my photo.
We left the cemetery and got back on the main trail. After a bit, it again turns right, making the main trail a large square. There are some zig-zag trails just to the left of here, which you can take, but are mainly used by biologists, researchers, and students, to study the flora, fauna, and various small wildlife that live here.
A nice vantage point near the end of the trail. Just to the right of the dead tree, you can see the trees that mark the top of the trail from the barn. The grove of trees due right of there, just at the edge of the photo, is where I took the photo that shows the long, winding path that snakes off into the distance.
Back at the barn, I snapped a photo of Eva before we sat at one of the picnic tables there to eat the picnic dinner we brought with us. While this wasn't a challenging hike, by any means, it is quite beautiful. The whole trail is easy and is roughly three miles in total if you take the detour to the cemetery. When the barn opens again, it would make the perfect place to take your kids for a leisurely hike and a visit to the barn before having a picnic or some snacks before heading home. It's also a great way to see the grasses, wildflowers, and other plants that are native to the state. Like the cemetery, it's an interesting piece of our history. This place preserves both.
You can read more about the preserve at the University website.
I hope you have a great weekend! Get out and explore, have an adventure, or just have some plain old fun.