So the first parking lot brought us right to this - the Missouri River right on the crest of flood stage. We had gotten flood alerts all morning on our phones because it was just days away from going over the levees. On this day, however, it still had a few feet to go so the trails were still open.
We talked to a lady who was a regular on the trails here and she pointed out the 2 hiking trails adjacent to this parking lot and gave us directions to the trail on the other end of the conservation area as well. She also told us about the eagle nests in the area and how you could see them from the road and might even be able to see baby eagles still in the nest. We searched and searched for the next 3 days for those nests, but never saw them. After a little research at home, we learned that earlier spring is the best time to see the eaglets. It's probably easier to see them before the leaves are on the trees anyway.
The water was moving so fast.
So off on the trail we went. We chose the wider of the 2. The other one looked really overgrown and much more like a fall hiking trail.
I seriously want this sign for my house.
This was the trail from the beginning. Plenty of room.
The forest was unlike any I've ever seen. Walking into it, it looked like an enchanted forest. There were so many vines hanging from the trees, and the light was hitting the trees just perfectly.
There was another little lookout over the river on the trail.
A good spot for pictures.
So when we are hiking, we always, ALWAYS, tell the boys to watch for snakes if they walk out in front of us, but on this particular hike, I was in front, so I was the lucky one who came across this little guy. Eeeeeek!!!! We looked him up on the Missouri Department of Conservation snake field guide and found out he is a Western Ribbon Snake, found all over the state. It's in the garter snake family. Still, look how long he is. And he was right in the middle of the trail and didn't seem in the mood to move. Since we had a lot more exploring to do, we left him to sunbathe on the trail, and we headed back, keeping a very close eye out for Mr. Ribbon's family. He was the first of many animals we saw on this weekend adventure.
Another photo op. I have no idea why none of us are looking at the camera.
Oh, that's why. Do you see him?
So we headed back to the car to see the rest of the conservation area.
Now for a little geography lesson on the Eagle Bluff Area. The entire conservation area is frontage to the Missouri River and Perche Creek. Because the river has changed its course overtime, many of the natural wetlands were lost. So the Department of Conservation developed this area to reestablish wetlands in this area. There are 17 "pools" which create a habitat for all kinds of birds and other wildlife. These pools were absolutely beautiful and we spent the next couple of hours looking around the area. Everything can be seen from your car, but there are plenty of places to park and walk around as well.
There were blue herons everywhere. We could not get pictures fast enough but they were incredible.
We drove by this little clearing once, and pointed out these deer. Eli didn't see them the first time so we actually backed up to get a closer view. I am so glad we did, because we noticed that the baby was still wobbly on its feet - probably just a day or 2 old. I've never seen one so young.
More of the wetlands. I could have stayed here all day. It was so restful.
Finally caught a picture of the heron. Can you see it?
And a couple more of the pools. I know they probably all look the same in picture form, but you have to imagine that there are acres and acres and acres of these pools all over the place which makes for an incredible landscape.
For the record, we did attempt to hike the one final trail, but it was already under water so that gives us a good reason to come back again.
Stay tuned for day 2 in this conservation area. It only gets better!