Have a Picnic at Riverfront Park
Last week I talked about Lake Elmo. It is a great recreation area for swimming and doing all sorts of other activities. This week, there is another lake on the south end of town. Riverfront Park is located along the banks of the Yellowstone River, and within the park boundaries is Lake Josephine. While one of the biggest attractions at Lake Elmo is the swimming, Lake Josephine does not allow it (besides the water is dirty and gross). But there are plenty of other activities to do at this park.
One of the most popular activities is to have a picnic. There are many tables located along the north and west ends of the lake, and there are shelters built up over the tables so if the sun is beating down, or a sudden rainstorm springs up, your food will be just fine. In addition to the tables there are large areas of grass along the shores of the lake that you can throw down a blanket and soak up the sun (trust me; you want the blanket to protect against the duck and goose droppings). There is no need to rush home after you eat since there are many more things to do at the park.
Pathways go around the entire lake that are perfect for biking, walking, jogging, or letting the dog explore. Most of the paths are paved, and there are even more that go through the woods that are just dirt. You can explore for hours through them, or just take a quick walk all the way around the lake (it would probably only take you 30 minutes to get around). You can even take the pathway under Blue Creek Bridge and over to Norm’s Island to expand your area of exploration even further.
While on the paths take some time to watch for wildlife. There are many birds that live in the trees around the lake, even some that fish in the lake. I have been there when an osprey spotted a fish too close to the surface and swooped in for an easy meal. There are squirrels that can be found, and Norm’s Island is said to be home to at least one fox. Lake Josephine used to flourish with turtles, but for some reason they have all disappeared in recent years. As you cross the bridge at the east end of the lake you should be able to look into the water and see some fish swimming around.
You can fish the lake, but it may not be worth your time. The bluegills are small and I have never seen one worth taking home. There are large carp in the water, I have yet to catch one, but they can be fun to reel in. Riverfront Park is a great place to bring kids who just want the excitement of catching fish. The bluegills are easy to catch and will bite on just about anything you put in there (even a pop top tied to a piece of string).
If you want to get away for the day, or just a couple of hours, Riverfront Park has a lot to offer. You can take a canoe and float around, or you can stick to the shores and search for frogs. The pathways will lead you all over the park and even down to the river. While there stay out of the water, there are a lot of ducks and geese that relieve themselves in there, and it is best for your health to stay clear of their mess. If you do go, head south of town on S. Billings Blvd. and turn east just before crossing the Yellowstone River. Remember to obey park hours and make sure to leave the place cleaner than you found it so it will be around for years for everyone to enjoy.
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