Hike 14 - Eastman Nature Center at Elm Creek

Part of the fun of this challenge is exploring new places. I often narrow it down to a few different options and then Jesse and Riley weigh in on their opinion. Riley had the final say on this one and I think she made a good choice.

The path near the Eastman Nature Center is in the Elm Creek park which has a ton of trails, a great play area and a swimming pond. The nature center wasn’t open when we were there, but I’d love to go back and check it out some day.


Hike #: 14

Trail: Eastman Nature Center at Elm Creek

Location: Osseo, MN

Trail surface: dirt, wood chips, paved

Date: 9/9/18


Our favorite part of this trail was the one covered in trees with a dirt path as it reminded us of hiking in the forest up north, but the paved area was beautiful as well. There were some signs, but like many other trails we’ve been on this year, there could have been more or they could have been clearer. Again, the AllTrails app came to the rescue to keep us on our intended path.


In all honesty, I had to remind Jesse about this trail as he said he remembered the parking lot more than the trail. I don’t think that says anything against the trail, but he still only rated it a 2. I thought it was a nice trail and well groomed.

Jo: ★★★

Jesse: ★★

Riley: ★★★


Hike 13 - Osprey Trail

There are so many places to hike in the Black Hills, and there were a number I wanted to try, but wasn’t sure my 8 year old would be up to hiking that far. Plus, I felt like I was dragging energy wise all week, but it was important to me to get in one more hike before we left South Dakota.


I originally planned to hike the Osprey trail the day we camped at Pactola Lake since this trail is right next to the campsite, but rain delayed this plan until later. This trail has a couple loops and another short trail we accidentally wandered down to make it about a 2.5 mile hike.

Hike #: 13

Trail: Osprey Trail

Location: Near Rapid City, South Dakota

Trail surface:

Date: 8/29/18


It was a warm day so it was nice to have shade, but there are plenty of open areas with full sun so you’ll want to make sure you have a hat and sunscreen. The trail was sometimes hard to find so I was grateful to be using the AllTrails app again to help us find one of the trail heads. As a side note, this app allows you to record your hike and gives you stats such as what your average time per mile was. Wish I discovered this earlier.


We saw a couple people on this trail, but for the most part we had it to ourselves which wins huge points for us. Also, having shade earns it points and it had a pretty view of the lake.

Jo: ★★★★

Jesse: ★★★

Riley: ★★


Hike 12 - Door and Notch Trails

 I’d been looking forward to our get away to South Dakota for some time. We visited in 2015 as a family (and Jesse went back with some friends in 2016 and 2017). We did all the touristy things last time and hoped to get off the beaten path a bit this time.

Last time we spent half a day in the Badlands and it wasn’t nearly enough time to explore. This time we spent about a day and a half which was fantastic, but we left so much of this national park unexplored.

It was a hot one while we were there, 90’s on up to 100, but we were determined to get outside and find some trails. I don’t do well hiking in hot weather so we went earlier in the day (and perhaps should have gotten out even earlier).

Hike #12: 

Trail: Door Trail and Notch Trail

Location: Badlands, South Dakota

Trail surface: some boardwalk on Door trail, and a ladder on Notch, but mostly rock.

Date: 8/26/18


We started with a geology tour that took us down the boardwalk of Door trail. We wandered out after that on the marked trail weaving on top of the eroded sedimentary rock distinctive of the Badlands. It was only a .8 mile trail so we headed down the road a little to Notch trail which is 1.2 miles.


Notch trail should probably be hiked by those 8 and older just because there is a ladder you need to climb followed by a narrow walking path with cliffs to the side. At the top awaits a beautiful view and most importantly a little breeze. It felt incredibly hot along the trail, but at the top it felt a little more like the 70 something degrees it was.  


While these were both short trails, together they made it long enough for me to consider it a hike. Additionally, there were some challenge points, such as not falling off a cliff. We all loved this hike, especially the ladder, but the heat made it a bit miserable at times.

Jo: ★★★★

Jesse: ★★★★

Riley: ★★★★★