Lake Shetek State Park

Lake Shetek State Park Hiking Club Path on the Island. 

The Drive: If you think that after driving hundreds of miles through almost identical corn and soybean fields, the drive would start to become dull, you've underestimated my ability to romanticize my experiences. I just can't gaze out at the rolling hills of gold and emerald and not feel like I'm in the middle of some cheesy and endearing patriotic medley. Every red silo and every ramshackle farmhouse evokes some idealized version of the American heartland - the breadbasket of the world - bulwark of quiet civilization guarding us against the uncertainty and wilderness of the outside a world - a proverbial beacon on the hill. Even though I know most of these farms are controlled by massive agricultural conglomerates with patented GMO seeds producing an economically unsustainable product, kept alive by immense, politically driven government subsidies, and operating on land illegally seized from oppressed indigenous people, when I'm actually on the road, it is easy to ignore all that and just appreciate the many hues soybeans go through on their way to drought induced death.

Lake Shetek is actually a pretty big lake, something I wasn't expecting to encounter in this part of the state. 

The ParkLake Shetek (Shetek means Pelican, but I never saw any there) is another park that I don't really feel the need to explore more than I did. Although there is about seven lakes within the boundaries of this small park, the main attraction is Lake Shetek itself, a large lake popular with fisherman and boaters. I am not a fisherman and it was not a friendly day for boating or swimming, nor was the one mile hiking club trail adequate for me to get an idea of the kind of hiking they have, so I guess I can't truly attest to the virtues of this park. They do have an old pioneer cabin (history!) which is worth exploring and a really unusual monument right outside the park. I'm still not quite sure what it was commemorating. The beginning of the Casey Jones bike trail is near the park as well.

An old barn in Lake Shetek State Park 

An old barn in Lake Shetek State Park 

The Hike: Beginning at the boat landing, this one mile jaunt takes you across the Lake Shetek causeway to a self-interpretive island loop. While walking through the tangle of second growth oak and ash, you learn from signs how beautiful the island was before it's virgin forest was ravaged by disease, leaving it as barren as the stripped farmland on the lake's shores. Using my impressive imaginative skills I was able to reconstruct the island as it was and consequently enjoyed my hike much more. I enjoyed it less, however, the second time I did the loop since I somehow missed the password sign the first time around (one of the contributing factors to the park's 3/5 arbitrary rating). The path is easy, quick, and relatively uninteresting. Check it out if your in the area, but don't go out of your way.

The path to the island. It gets pretty windy out in the middle of the lake so be prepared. 

Cumulative Miles Driven: 1190

Cumulative Miles Hiked: 38

Arbitrary Rating: 3/5