Sunday, April 14, 2013

Great Springs State Park

Another location only minutes from the house is the Giant Springs State Park.  It is located on River Drive which seems to hold a ton of locations I need to stop and explore, such as the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center.  But as Saturday was a beautiful day, I didn't want to be inside. (Note to self:  regardless of how nice the weather seems, carry a cap to protect against the wind!) So I passed it by and headed up the road a tad to Great Springs State Park.

The park is really nice and well cared for.  It is also part of the River Trail walkway, so you can leave the immediate park area and have a nice, paved trail to walk on.  

During the summer months it seems there is also a Park Ranger on duty.

This is the springs.  A large pool with the springs bubbling up in the center in several places and cascading over a small ring of stones to merge into the Missouri River.  It is also the start of the world's shortest river, the Roe.  

On the other side of the little bridge is Giant Springs and the water in the little canal there is the Roe River, so named because it is part of the hatchery at the springs.

Once again, like at Black Eagle Dam, I love the flow of the water over the rocks.  Although not anywhere near as large as the falls at the dam, it is still lovely. 

In the water of the springs itself is this lovely, lettuce looking greenery.  The water is so clear and the green of the leaves is almost neon.

I have already seen tons of sea gulls around Great Falls, flying around parking lots, looking for food.  And I knew that Montana was big on the migratory path for birds and had expected the Canadian Geese.  However, I did not expect to see a pelican on a fresh water river.  

As you walk down the River Trail, upstream toward Black Eagle Dam, there are some wonderful cliffs you walk right next to.

The swallows have not returned yet, but there is ample evidence of these cliffs being a favorite nesting site. 

Along the walkway, there are trails branching off.  Some of them are not paved and can be a little daunting, especially when you see signs showing the grade of the trail.

Twenty percent is a bit more than I want to tackle without getting a little more in shape.  
Of course, signs like this are interesting also.  

At one point, shortly after you leave Giant Springs, you walk below the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center.  The walkway up to the center is also a little steep looking.  I think I will plan on walking down it and not up it. 

As you walk down the pathway (which I haven't yet, is the statue of a dog up there.  I will have to make the trip down to check it out.

But as you walk along the river, the sounds of the gulls is louder than being at the beach.  There are a couple of islands out in the middle of the river which are nesting places for the gulls and a few geese. 

The view up the river toward Black Eagle Dam.
And on the bluff above the river as you get near the dam, are the statues of Lewis and Clark and Sacagawea.

More of the wonderful bluffs along the trail.  With the bluffs on one side and the river on the other, this two mile round trip walk is a pleasant way to spend a couple of hours.  Not that it takes that long to walk 2 miles, but you have to stop and look.

I did stop and talk to several people along the way (yes, Savvy and Texter, mom was being social!)

This is Michael and he was fishing at Giant Springs in a little creek off to the side with his dad.  He had caught a rainbow trout.  I need to fish again for trout!  Actually, not so much as fish for them as to have a big plate of nicely cooked trout.

Unfortunately, I don't think the hatchery would take kindly if I just scooped a couple of these big beauties up.

Giant Springs is definitely a place I plan on returning to many times.  I would love to see how the scenery changes as the year progresses.

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