Hiking in Platte River State Park and Memphis Lake Recreation Area | September 2020
The first cold front came through right after Labor Day weekend. The highs were in the 50’s, lows in the 30’s-40’s, and it took everything in me to not turn on the heat. In the end, we survived, and we were stronger for it. By the time the weekend rolled around, we even felt ready to spend an extended amount of time outside and go hiking in the cold.
Our main focus today was to explore Platte River State Park, located on the South side of the Platte River SW of Omaha. The sky was cloudy and grey, giving the area a cool, damp feel. We parked near Jenny Newman Lake and set off on a 3 mile loop around the park. Curtis kind of used letterboxes to determine our route, but we didn’t end up finding any of them. We’re learning that there isn’t really an active boxing community here, and most of the boxes in the Omaha area haven’t been found in almost a decade. Curtis has some ideas for boxes though and might try to plant some in East Nebraska and West Iowa next spring. Truly, Southern AZ has been the best place we’ve lived for letterboxing by far, both because of the boxes and the community!
Anyway, I digress — despite not finding boxes, we did really enjoy our hike. The trails were in good condition if meandering and it was a lovely walk through the woods. Our one complaint is that the trail we took never really went near the Platte River. This is because there’s a stretch of land between the state park and the river that’s owned by the BNSF railroad. That being said, there are still trails we didn’t hike so maybe there’s an overlook somewhere that we missed?
One highlight for me was coming across tepees that you could rent for camping. I have memories of going on a trip with my family when I was 4 where we met up with some friends of my parents who lived in Omaha and stayed in tepees, and now I’m sure this is where we were. So I guess this was actually my second visit to this park!
As we were nearing the end of our hike, the sun came out and we quickly became too warm in our jackets. We returned to our car after about an hour and a half of hiking. If you’re interested, here is our AllTrails trail recording.
Next, we drove a little further West to another state park on the river, Eugene T. Mahoney State Park. However, this park was packed and we didn’t come across any obvious trailheads while driving through. The only thing we knew about was the observation deck, but that was closed for maintenance. We decided to leave this park for another day when it was less busy and we were better prepared.
Instead, we took NE-66 up to Memphis and to Memphis Lake State Recreation Area. Curtis just wanted to attempt a letterbox here, but it was so nice out that we decided to walk around the entire lake. Right as we were entering the park, we saw a guy with a basset hound and immediately had to pull over to show him our basset. Side note, I don’t know if this happens to anyone else, but I’ve had this happen to me at least 4 times while walking Charlotte — a fellow or former basset hound owner will stop their car to tell me how much they love bassets. 🙂
We really enjoyed our short walk around the lake, even if the letterbox was a bust. We saw lots of wild flowers, a blue heron, and two bloodhounds on our way. Charlotte didn’t notice the bloodhounds until they started baying at her. Altogether the walk was 1.7 miles, and you can check out our AllTrails recording here.
To wrap up our day, we drove to Wahoo to see the Saunders County Courthouse, because no weekend is complete without a courthouse visit these days! This one also had an elaborate veteran’s memorial and a memorial for the USS Wahoo – a very famous and decorated WWII submarine. Perhaps we’ll come back someday to plant a box about it. Stay tuned, fellow boxers!