As I have mentioned before, I live close to Squaw creek, which is a third order tributary of the Mississippi. As rivers go, Squaw creek is quite short (42 mi), so short in fact to be fully contained in just three counties. The Squaw creek never gets out of Ames, as it flows into the South Skunk river just a few miles south-east of my house. The South Skunk river is the subject of the photo above.
The Squaw creek and the South Skunk river are the reasons that Ames is criss-crossed with so many green areas. Despite their diminutive sizes, the two rivers are prone to flooding. As a result large areas within the borders of the town cannot be developed, and are reserved for public parks. The River Valley park, in particular, follows a good tract of the South Skunk river as it crosses Ames. With 4 miles of trails, it is one of my favorite places to walk with Kero. The paths follow the river for the whole length of the park, inside a thick canopy of a deciduous forest that looks stunning this time of the year. On the way back the trail border open fields, typically used for either soy or corn (hey, we are in Iowa, the alternative would be pig farms).
In winter the trails are groomed for cross country skiing, which precludes our access to the park during the skiing season. The problem with groomed trails is that Kero doesn't use skis, so if we were to go there we would be stomping on the trails ruining them for the other skiers. For this reason we go to different trails closer to my house, which nobody grooms but that I can still navigate with my larger-than-average cross country skis (pulled by my personal four-legged ski-lift). But there are hopefully several more weeks before we will get to snow time. In the meantime it is good to enjoy the colors and the haze of autumn.