A Gem Hiding in Plain Sight
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I’ve come full circle from the banana seat-sting ray bike of my youth in Sioux Falls that would carry me and my golf clubs across town to summer days at Elmwood. And prior to that 3-on-the-tree Bellaire, it was a 10 speed to school and occasional bike trips to Brandon via Rice Street and even as far as Worthington Minnesota on the old two-lane through Valley Springs, Luverne, and Adrian.
I’m back to the high rise handle bars but with a recumbent seat and have set out to discover some of the walking and bike trails around South Dakota. First stop is our Territorial Capitol. You may be more apt to bring your boat, but if you bring the bicycle, you’ll see Yankton from a new perspective and discover a “Gem Hiding in Plain Sight”… the bike and walking trail along Marne Creek.
The creek cuts northwest to southeast through Yankton as it collects run-off, but thanks to natural springs, it runs even in dry months. For most of Yankton’s history, Marne Creek has been a jungle, collecting brush, fallen trees, and debris to create the occasional flood hazard.
Thanks to visionaries and a gift from locals Meredith Auld and her husband Tom Brokaw, the Auld-Brokaw Trail was born. The project cleaned up the flood plain, established 8 foot wide concrete trails for the parks department to access the creek, and has become a pastoral scene for Yanktonian’s and guests to enjoy.
Riding with Parks and Recreation Director Todd Larson, we saddled up at the High School and Summit Activities Center. One block out of the parking lot on 19th street and we were on the trail. The easy decent carried us along Marne Creek, past the wood ducks and deer, and under Broadway and around busy cross streets. The Auld-Brokaw trail interconnects city parks and is by design within reach of several schools, keeping students on two wheels out of before and after school traffic.
The pay-off on our circuit is the view around each bend of Marne Creek as it leads through Yankton to the historic district, Rotary Nature Area, under Highway 50, and to the Missouri River at Riverside Park. The Riverside is a destination unto itself with picnic, play, and performance areas alongside the Missouri. The restored two-level Meridian Bridge is exclusive to walkers and peddlers for a quick trip to Nebraska and back. And it’s anchored by a plaza with water features to see and play in.
Todd and I picked up the on-street trail through the riverside neighborhood to the hospital and Westside Park. With its pond, shelters, gazebo, and fountain, Westside is situated next to the Dakota Territorial museum and building complex. Though Todd and I choose to continue north on Summit for the short ride back to our starting point, Westside is a jumping off point to connect to the off-road trail west to the Dam, Marina, and State Park system on Lewis and Clark Lake (or vice versa).
In the next couple of years, Yankton plans to extend the Auld-Brokaw trail to the northwest reaches of the city and back south along west city-limits road. The city is rich in outdoor resources. The Auld-Brokaw trail along Marne Creek will tempt you off the Missouri River and into the city… don’t resist!
Come along to our next stops: Sioux Falls, Watertown, Pierre, and the Black Hills Mickelson Trail.