A few weeks ago, Matt Patterson wrote about hiking the Skyline Trail at Beavers Bend State Park. He enjoyed himself thoroughly, and wrote up a good trip report for the rest of us to read and study.
The trail itself is designated as being one for experienced hikers only, mostly because of the elevation loss and gain as well as the ruggedness of the route.
Those are my kind of hikes. Challenging, scenic and, because of their difficulty, low on human traffic and high on wildlife.
But that’s not for everyone. In fact, the bulk of the visitors to the park are people who love the scenery of the park and Broken Bow Lake, but maybe aren’t up to some of the rigors of routes like Skyline.
Thankfully, there are trails near the state lodge that offer good hikes and are an intermediate step up toward some of the wilder routes.
The state park system built the Lakeview Lodge trail system — three loops that are accessible from the lodge parking lot. The first loop is the easiest and is about a mile long. The second loop has a bit more difficulty (classified “intermediate”) and goes about two miles.
The third loop is the best, winding a little over four miles. The last mile or so that goes back toward the lodge follows the shoreline of Broken Bow Lake, making it the most scenic part of that particular trail system. The lake is beautiful (better water clarity down there than what we see here) and is dotted with a few pine-covered islands visible from the shore.
All three loops go through a mix of pines and hardwoods. In the fall, that means much of the trail is covered in fallen leaves, but the routes are easy to follow, and signs let you know when the next loop begins.
There are a few spots where the trails steepen, but only for short distances. The whole loop system fits comfortably within a Class 1 rating (out of 5, with 5 being technical rock climbing).
Also something to consider: Hardcore hikers often find their meals on the trail, but on this particular trail system, you’re close enough to some area restaurants to enjoy a post-hike meal in style. Brick oven pizza and Choc beer, anyone? Not a bad way to end the day.
I know a lot of the stuff I write about here may seem a little out of reach for some (though that’s really not the case). But in this post, I’m hoping you can find a nice “baby step,” a decent hike that is truly doable for anyone. Pick which loop you want to do based on your fitness level. If it’s too easy, take the next loop, and the next. If you can do the four-mile loop of the lake lodge trail, perhaps it’s time to start looking at Skyline or even some of the bigger routes along the Talimena/Winding Stair area further north.