Saturday, September 10, 2016

Hiking Cone’s Dike Trail and Visitor’s Center Overlook- Payne’s Prairie Preserve

During the afternoon, we hiked part of Cone’s Dike Trail, and spent some time at the overlook at the Visitor’s Center.  I really like this picture that Tina took from the top of the overlook; it shows the layer the layers of colors across the whole prairie.

Pairie Layers
Payne’s Prairie Color Pallet

Start Cone's Dike TrailThe Cone’s Dike trail starts just off the sidewalk that goes from the parking area to the visitor’s center, right next to a public restroom.  The first portion of the trail leads to the east through the forest before coming to a branch – the northern fork goes to Cone’s Dike, with the trail to Jackson’s Gap heading south.  Trail view-1

We were hoping to spot the bison this afternoon, so we took the northern path that leads down to the prairie.  As we headed down the hill to the stile that enters the prairie, we heard what sounded like a huge animal crashing through the forest, just out of sight.  It was probably a deer, but I’ve also heard armadillos make quiet a ruckus going through dead leaves, so who knows.

Trail view-2As the trail enters the prairie, the overlook tower by the visitors center can be seen off to the west.  The trail turns to the east pretty quickly, and continues on for about half a mile before turning to the north.  This portion of the trail was well shaded by the trees to the south, but the northern leg wasn’t nearly as well shaded.Trail view-3

We only followed this portion of the trail for about a half mile before turning back.  Since it was later in the day, the temperature was getting up there.  Our goal of seeing the prairie and ground level didn’t really work out since the plants growing along the path were higher than head-level.  We could have been ten feet from the bison and still wouldn’t have been able to see them.

Instead of continuing on, we decided instead to head up to the overlook and look around from there.  From the overlook we could see more horses on the prairie, but we didn’t spot any of the bison.  Still, it was worth the trip – this overlook tower is three levels high, and offers an amazing view.

Prairie Pano
Prairie Panorama

Photo Gallery
(More photos are available on our Panoramio page)

Overlook from trail
Overlook viewed from the trail
Wild horses-3
Wild Horses on the Prairie
Inside VC Bald Eagle-1
Bald Eagle in Visitor’s Center

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