I think Thomas Mitchell Park is probably my #1 favorite spot to hike in the creek and explore; it even has special stairs to get up and down easily! We had a great visit last summer, bumping into interesting fungi and animals, in addition to kicking off the Polk County Geocache Challenge with our first cache at this park.
[You can see more specific details on the Thomas Mitchell Park page or check out its location on the interactive map.]
I usually snap shots of park signs so it’s easier to find, but the overgrowth on this entrance didn’t help anyone out.
There’s a main road, driving up to this lake and a small bathrooom, with picnic tables sprinkled around in the shade. We’ve seen lots of folks fishing here, and there is a loop path around it.
We opted for the Devotie Trail; all the trails are dirt and pretty shady.
It’s unique to find a grave along the trail! I can’t remember who was buried here, we need to go back and take a closer look.
There were lots of interesting fungi and florals as we went, I especially appreciate the variety in color and shape.
The trail eventually leads you to this pretty red bridge near the campground, which is where we opted to get in the water.
Obviously it will depend on water levels, but this was about as deep as it got when we went, perfect for my 1 year old.
The perfect summer activity!
You can see the steps up and down into the water here; there is a second site with steps like these, that you will have driven past while entering the park.
There are a few spots to access the creek – the one above is near the red bridge next to the campground. We got there by parking in the main lot, by the pond/bathroom, and hiking the Devotie Trail to it. You can alternately park at the campground – see below for pictures.
While in the water, we saw a ton of frogs, crawfish, and moths/butterflies! We will definitely be repeating this again; it’s so nice to cool off after a hike and explore the water critters as well. You can check out what the park looks like in fall, in this post.