It has been a while since my wife and I have been to Willow River State Park. Usually I make a number of visits in the winter but this year I just made one visit. With the arrival of Spring we decide to drive over and check on condition in the Park. In fact we made two visit last week to Willow River State Park.
The first visit was made on bright cold spring day.There was plenty of water running over the falls. It was late in the day so the falls was mainly in the sun and only partially in the shade. I managed to get a few photographs using a neutral density filter and a circular polarizing filter.
After photographing the falls we decided to follow the river down to Willow Falls Lake and see if we could find any wildlife. There were plenty of ducks and Canada Geese to be found where the open water of the river met the ice on the Lake. We heard a pair of Sandhill Cranes calling as we were walking along the river but couldn’t see them. We also saw a couple of Trumpeter Swans land in the open water on the lake as we were walking back to the car.
After looking at my photos I wasn’t happy with them so a few days later we decided to drive back over to the park and do some hiking. In the morning we walked down to the falls and took some more photos. The water was running higher than on the previous trip. We then walked along the river to check on the waterfowl. They were less plentiful along the shore than on our previous trip. We decided to walk back to the car and head out for some lunch.
After Lunch we decided to try hiking the Nelson Farm Trail which was finished late last year. It goes from main east parking area through the north portion of the park and ends back at Willow Falls. In all we walked about seven miles through the park.
The trails had been groomed for cross country skiing but they had turned mostly to slush and in many places were bare ground. We encountered a couple of diehard cross country skiers on the trails. They had to stop every once in a while and walk through the mud to get to the next patch of snow. One of them gave up and clearly was not happy with conditions but the other one persevered and made the circuit of the park.
Wildlife was plentiful in the bluffs above Willow River Lake. There were two herds of White-tail Deer in the meadows. We also managed to see quite a few birds including our first Eastern Phoebes, Eastern Bluebirds, Great Blue Herons and Cedar Waxwings of the season. Waterfowl was plentiful but too far out for any photographs. Waterfowl included Wood Ducks, Common Mergansers, Mallards, Buffleheads and lots of Canada Geese.
This is a great time to visit Willow River State Park. There is some good water flow over the Falls. Many of the summer birds have returned to the park. Waterfowl are plentiful where the Willow River enters Willow Falls Lake and along the edge of the ice on the lake.