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Lake Hiddenwood State Park is lush with trees, wildlife and plants, like this prairie rose getting ready to unfurl. Click to enlarge photos.
Lake Hiddenwood State Park is lush with trees, wildlife and plants, like this prairie rose getting ready to unfurl. Click to enlarge photos.
Purple rockets and a stone stairway mark the way to a hiking trail.
Purple rockets and a stone stairway mark the way to a hiking trail.
A blue dragonfly hunts for dinner inside a flower off one of Hiddenwood's hiking trails.
A blue dragonfly hunts for dinner inside a flower off one of Hiddenwood's hiking trails.
A Yellow Warbler with a strand of cobweb. Will it become part of his nest?
A Yellow Warbler with a strand of cobweb. Will it become part of his nest?
Lake Hiddenwood State Park is rich with wildlife, like this watchful hawk.
Lake Hiddenwood State Park is rich with wildlife, like this watchful hawk.
A Wild Turkey Gobbler lurks in the tall grass of a nearby pasture.
A Wild Turkey Gobbler lurks in the tall grass of a nearby pasture.
Lake Hiddenwood's edge is a great place for sunning.
Lake Hiddenwood's edge is a great place for sunning.
This leopard frog permitted an up-close and personal portrait.
This leopard frog permitted an up-close and personal portrait.
Wonderful blue skies and inviting clouds above Lake Hiddenwood.
Wonderful blue skies and inviting clouds above Lake Hiddenwood.
Canoeing on Lake Hiddenwood.
Canoeing on Lake Hiddenwood.
The Begemans paddle up the creek channel.
The Begemans paddle up the creek channel.
View from Hiddenwood's walking bridge.
View from Hiddenwood's walking bridge.
Trevor Begeman gets a playful splash from dad's paddle.
Trevor Begeman gets a playful splash from dad's paddle.
Young Brenden enjoys being along for the ride.
Young Brenden enjoys being along for the ride.
DeDee and Trevor Begeman are mirrored in Lake Hiddenwood's peaceful waters.
DeDee and Trevor Begeman are mirrored in Lake Hiddenwood's peaceful waters.
Trevor shows off his rowing skills.
Trevor shows off his rowing skills.
Could it be the world's record <i>smallest</i> bass? The fishing's fun anyway.
Could it be the world's record smallest bass? The fishing's fun anyway.
Sunset over the earthen dam and spillway of Lake Hiddenwood State Park.
Sunset over the earthen dam and spillway of Lake Hiddenwood State Park.

The Hidden Beauty of Lake Hiddenwood

Jun 25, 2012

The first time I experienced Lake Hiddenwood State Park I was a mere 16-year-old volunteering as a camp counselor. This park was only an hour and a half drive from my home and I had never heard of it. I was told the place was full of trees, hiking trails and a small lake. As we drove east of Mobridge and then north of Selby through the wide open, rolling fields and pastures, it didn’t seem possible that there could be a forested state park anywhere in the area. We then crested a hill and eased into Hiddenwood Creek Valley and there it was, a little gem of a lake sparkling in the sun and surrounded by thick stands of trees. We had a lot of fun with the campers that afternoon and I was thoroughly impressed with the place.

Some 20-plus years later I find myself walking the “Hidden Beauty” trail before dawn with camera in hand. The trees are thick and the undergrowth is green with life along the trail. I hear turkey, nearly step on a fawn quietly sleeping on a hillside of grass (which nearly gave me a heart attack) and photograph a rosebush unfurling its pink flowers. I swear I must have groomed the trail of at least a dozen cobwebs with my big head. Again, I find it hard to believe that such a place exists in the middle of the high plains of north central South Dakota.

According to South Dakota’s Game, Fish and Parks website, melting glaciers carved the valley. In 1927, the department used a new technique called an earthen dam to create Lake Hiddenwood. It is one of the first artificial lakes in South Dakota. The lake is not deep, but it does contain a variety of fish species including perch, bass and bullhead. The place is also a haven for birds and wildlife. From hawk to deer and turtles to amphibians, you’ll find them all at Hiddenwood.

The first sunlight of the day lights up Lake Hiddenwood State Park.


My older brother and his family live near Selby so I invited them to join me at the park to go canoeing. I thought it would be a fun thing to photograph and since he owns the canoe, it was pretty essential they agreed to go. You couldn’t have asked for a better evening on the calm waters of the lake as the sun was glowing yellow through the trees. Hiddenwood Creek’s channel is deep enough to canoe quite a way upstream. If you prefer more open waters, you can turn your boat to the west where the water widens until reaching the small spillway on the northwest part of the dam. I’m not sure what it is, but there is something peaceful as well as memorable being out on the water of Hiddenwood. It might be that the water is so calm even on windy days because of the trees and hills acting as windbreak. Whatever it is, the lake is a special place, especially when spending time on it with family.

The fishing is also entertaining. My nephew and a couple of his friends spent a good hour catching and releasing fish after fish from the boat dock as the last light of the day dimmed. They were quite intrigued to be able to see the schooling perch swim in lazy circles and even see the small little shadows of fish hit their spinner lures just a foot or so under the water. I can see why this place is popular with the local Boy Scout chapter. I’m coming up on 40 years on this earth and I’m not ashamed to say that spending time playing at Lake Hiddenwood made me feel like that wide-eyed kid again. I know I’m not 16 any more but places like Hiddenwood can take you back there even if it’s just for an evening. Thanks to my brother, his wife, and my nephews for making the weekend another special one at Lake Hiddenwood State Park. 

 

Christian Begeman grew up in Isabel and now lives in Sioux Falls. When he's not working at Midcontinent Communications he is often on the road photographing our prettiest spots around the state. Follow Begeman on his blog. To view Christian's columns on other South Dakota state parks and recreation areas, visit his state parks page. 

Comments

02:06 pm - Tue, July 3 2012
Meleta DeJong said:
Spent a week last fall camping at Lake Hiddenwood and found it to be a mini paradise. Amazing how one can drive for miles seeing only wheat and corn fields and then quickly descend into a valley of heavily wooded hills and a gorgeous lake and campground. We camped in October when the trees were in full fall color, the campers were few and the wildlife abundant. It was a wonderful experience and well worth repeating.
02:07 pm - Tue, July 3 2012
Duane Berreth said:
I too found this lake from a friend who at the time lived in Selby. What a great lake. It is as if time stood still and here is this little gem in the middle of "grain country".

Thanks so much for jogging my memory because the first and only time I visited this lake was over 20 years ago.
07:31 pm - Tue, July 3 2012
Tanya Moore said:
You jogged my memory, too! I grew up in Selby. Lake Hiddenwood holds many, many fond memories. . .picnics, fishing and swimming in the summer, sledding and ice skating in the winter. Hiking around the lake or up to Split Rock was always an exciting adventure for us. Thank you for sharing your story and your pictures. I think it's time for a trip back home!
03:02 pm - Mon, August 6 2012
Stuart Surma said:
My late great friend Larry Jost of Waubay's first job for the Game & Fish was assistant park manager at Hiddenwood with Dallas Ingles as manager. Dallas went on to manage Shadehill Reservoir at Lemmon until his retirement. Larry went to Union Grove State Park, Angustura, and then back to the family farm at Waubay where an accident took his life. Whenever I go to Hiddenwood I think of my friend Larry! Stu Surma, Java, S.D.
05:50 am - Tue, August 14 2012
John Begeman said:
Once again thank you so much for this wondeful story! it really touched my heart because I've camped there quite often and don't always see its inner beauty, but to be honest it is a beautiful park!
12:14 am - Sun, March 30 2014
David Coleman said:
I worked for Dallas in the about 1968. It was when SD Parks first started charging fee there and we had to sit out in sun and wait for customers; it was great!

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