HIKING TRAILS MN STATE PARKS
Crosby - Ironton - Deerwood - Bay Lake - Cuyuna - Emily 522 Sinclair Lewis Avenue Sauk Centre, MN 56378
www.MnTrails.com Minnesota Trails Staff Jan Lasar Editor/Publisher Joyce Frericks Accounting Brian Dingmann Page Layout & Design Graphic Design
Editorial Board Brett Feldman Executive Director Parks & Trails Council of Minnesota
Vol. 26, No. 3 August 2021 Minnesota Trails magazine is a continuation of Minnesota Bike Trails & Rides, published quarterly in cooperation with the Parks & Trails Council of Minnesota, a nonprofit organization that acquires, protects and enhances critical lands for public enjoyment. Your $35 membership subscription supports this work. Minnesota Trails is not responsible for the return of unsolicited materials and reserves the right to reject unsuitable advertising. Information in this publication is as accurate as possible. Opinions expressed are those of the authors and not of Minnesota Trails.
SERVICES LODGING COLDWELL BANKER CROWN REALTORS Hwy. 6 & 210, Crosby 218-546-8346 www.coldwellbankercrown.com Providing unique, passionate service
CUYUNA LAKES CHAMBER 117 West Main Street, Crosby 218-546-8131 www.cuyunalakes.com
Cuyuna Regional Medical Center
HOSPITAL, CLINIC, PHARMACY 320 East Main Street, Crosby 218-546-7000 www.cuyunamed.org
CYKEL 324 Curtis Ave, Ironton 218-772-0177 www.cykelonline.com Bike sales, rentals, repairs & custom builds
OARS-N-MINE 22640 MN-6, Crosby 218-546-6912 www.oarsnmine.com Docks, lifts, bait and tackle
Continuing the TIMBER BUILDING SUPPLY 14506 State Highway 6, Deerwood 218-678-2063 www.timberbuildingsupply.com Your local building supplier 2 Fall 2021
DEERWOOD MOTEL 23688 Forest Road, Deerwood 218-534-3163 www.deerwoodmotel.com Great rooms at great prices
RED RIDER RESORT 23457 Co. Rd. 31, Crosby 218-838-6858 www.redriderresort.com Cabins and camping right off the trail
FINANCIAL DEERWOOD BANK 21236 Archibald Rd., Deerwood 218-534-3111 www.deerwoodbank.com Banking Made Nice & Simple
MID MINNESOTA FEDERAL CREDIT UNION 117 West Main Street, Crosby 218-546-5428 www.mmfcu.org Member owned and working for you
We’re here to help! Cuyuna Lakes Chamber members are open for business and ready to serve you!
EAT & DRINK
DEERSTAND RESTAURANT & BAR 24188 Mohs Street, Deerwood 218-534-9253 www.deerstandrestaurant.com Why limit happy to one hour?
TRAILSIDE TAVERN & PATIO 212 West Main Street, Crosby 218-546-5465 www.trailsidetavern.com Crosby’s newest trail-friendly restaurant
SOO LINE DEPOT Cuyuna Range History Museum 101 1st Street NE, Crosby 218-546-6178 or 218-545-1166 www.cuyunahistory.org
VICTUAL 124 W Main St., Crosby 218-545-1000 www.shopvictual.com Ice cream, cheese, charcuterie, gourmet, gifts, spirits
www.cuyunalakes.com Minnesota Trails
4 2021 Friends Group Partner Awards Lisa Filter
6 Minnesota Miles
30 Bike Ride Guide
7 Magnificent Miles
36 Trails Q&A Conversations with trail users
33 Where the Heck is Breadloaf Ridge?
Hikers explore Temperance River State Park while traveling the Superior Hiking Trail. Ian Hanson photo
Fabulous Fall Rides
45 MN Trails Map
Minnesota’s Trails At-A-Glance
46 Business Directory Find your Trail Partners
34 Hike 100 Challenge Matt Davis 35 Summit Challenge Matt Davis 38 Finding the Lost 40 Molly Brewer Hoeg 40 New Campground at Split Rock Lighthouse State Park Tom Watson 42 Yo-Yo the Kek Paul Kautz
Inside a huge pothole at Banning State Park. Jan Lasar photo
Thank you! Find us on:
Fall 2021 3
people saving special places
w w w. p a r k s a n d t r a i l s . o r g
2021 Friends Group Partner Award Gateway Brown’s Creek Trail Association
Trail advocates who go the extra mile
rails have the potential to
be more than just corridors. They can be hubs for community, pathways to wellness, connectors to nature, and destinations for tourists.
The folks at the Gateway Brown’s Creek Trail Association (GBCTA) know this secret recipe well and have fostered a community of stewards whose appreciation for the trail is infectious.
Parks & Trails Council of Minnesota is proud to announce our 2021 Friends Group Partner Award goes to the GBCTA. This is the second year P&TC has recognized a friends group with this award, and the accompanying $500 grant, which the friends group can use to continue its great work on behalf of the trail. The GBCTA’s origin story is closely tied to P&TC, as volunteers from
both organizations worked to establish the trail decades ago. Since then, the GBCTA volunteers have built up a thriving organization, that today engages volunteers in everything from advocacy at the state capitol to picking up horse poop.
How does a trail reach this level of importance? One invaluable ingredient: a community of dedicated volunteers working in partnership with trail staff.
4 Fall 2021
Members of the GBTCA building benches, erecting bluebird houses and celebrating trail expansions,
The GBCTA is an active partner who works handin-hand with the DNR to create the best trail experience for users that we can. ~ Rachel Henzen, DNR trail supervisor
Their advocacy, this past year, centered on trying to extend the trail with a 3-mile segment between William O’Brien State Park and the city of Scandia. No bill passed to fund this project, but their organizing galvanized people to the cause and built momentum as they continue the push. Meanwhile, the group showed a commitment to the statewide system of DNR-man-
aged trails by joining in P&TC’s effort to pass legislation that would fund trail maintenance for the system. Community is important to the GBCTA and they organize several events throughout the year, including candlelight walks and ski/snowshoe luncheons. The pandemic thwarted many of these plans last year, but they came up with creative ways to engage at a distance, including greeting trail users with inspirational poems, quotes and pictures written in chalk along the trail on Earth Day. Volunteers installed and monitored bluebird houses along the trail. They also engaged the community in learning about the diversity of plants found along the trail in a partnership event with Sustainable Stillwater they called, “What’s that Plant?” And no trail is complete without benches and water fountains, both of which the group helped to fund and construct this past year. This group supports the trail in so many ways that many trail users may not even realize.
by Lisa Filter, Parks & Trails Council Minnesota Trails
CAVENGER 2021 HUNT
Flowers Trees Humans Birds
June 1 - Sept 12, 2021
At Minnesota State Parks Focus Yo ur Mobile D e v ic e C amera Here to A ccess all the Hunt s! Or visit pa rksandtra
Weekly Drawing for $20 Gift Cards from entries to all participating parks. Minnesota Trails
Fall 2021 5
Checking in with Lisa Luokkala Lisa Luokkala has been the new Executive What does a normal day-to-day look like? Director for the Superior Hiking Trail Association No two days look alike. My day usually (SHTA) since July of 2020, taking over for Denny includes a mix of land manager relations, Caneff, who had held this position since 2017. fundraising and supporting our talented staff Lisa joined SHTA’s staff after serving as Senior in the success of their work. My lens is always Parks Planner for the City of Duluth since 2015, zooming in and out, making sure the daily work of where she led planning of parks and the Association is directly cultivating trails and implementation of capital Minnesota Miles our long-term goals. infrastructure projects throughout the 11,000-acre park and open What were some of the projects space system in the city. She holds you took on in your first year? a Master’s in Advocacy and Political The relocation of our Leadership from the University of headquarters was a big feat. Only a Minnesota-Duluth and a Bachelor’s week on the job, SHTA was notified in Travel and Tourism from Eastern that our office building was listed for Michigan University. sale. Mid-pandemic there were no I recently connected with her commercial spaces available in Two Jan Lasar to find out how her first year leading Harbors and I was just getting my feet Trails Editor/Publisher the SHTA went. under me. It took a few months but I conducted an office space assessment You came from working for a government with the board and staff and identified a soonentity to a largely volunteer-based to-be available space that met our needs. We organization. How was that transition? officially moved in February, and as of July 8 we It’s more of a homecoming. I was in the reopened our storefront to the public. nonprofit sector prior to my time with government, The Gooseberry Gap project was the premier so I am familiar with the operations and principles construction project that SHTA moved forward this of nonprofits, I just had to shake off the dust. The year, it was definitely a team effort. The “gap” biggest transition is zooming out on my mental in the Trail had existed since 2015 and the trail map and working and thinking on a larger alignment had been temporarily rerouted on road geographic scale. 300 miles of trail over four and paved multi-use trail. The Association had counties, multiple communities and hundreds worked for years to identify a new route and work of landowners is a change from working in one on gaining the financial support and permits to fill community. the 5-mile gap. After a long permitting and review process, construction officially began in June. What made you decide to become the Executive Director of the SHTA? What do you hope to accomplish during Connecting people to the outdoors is my your tenure? passion. I consider myself a steward of public My intent is to shepherd the Association lands, and what better way to steward a place into a new chapter of trail protection and than to help people build life-long connections to sustainable asset management. The trail is it? The Superior Hiking Trail offers unparalleled, an amazing recreational resource, but it is also free, public access to traverse both a physical and at risk. Strengthening our agreements with cultural landscape of the North Shore, it’s truly a landowners and managers is critical to assure the regional treasure. trail’s current alignment remains intact for future generations. It’s the tough, behind the scenes work You started your new job during a difficult of the Superior Hiking Trail Association that is time. What impact did the COVID pandemic really unknown and unrecognized by the tens of have on your job? thousands of people who hike, backpack, or trail I’ve had some memorable staff meetings run the trail each year. sitting outside in 30-degree weather, 6 feet apart, bundled up in down jackets! Starting the job during the pandemic actually afforded me the opportunity How to get involved to have a quieter transition and focus my energy on building strong relationships with staff, board LEARN MORE members and key partners before diving into the ABOUT VOLUNTEER more public-facing aspects of the job. OPPORTUNITIES:
What are some of the challenges a volunteer organization such as the SHTA faces? The Superior Hiking Trail’s infrastructure is showing its age. We’re celebrating our 35th anniversary this year and we’re seeing the wear and tear of those years on the trail. SHTA launched the Trail Renewal Program a few years ago and conducted professional assessments to identify the sections most in need of attention. Since then we’ve been focused on securing funding to conduct these large-scale renewal projects, like tread, boardwalk, bridges, etc. that will help reset the lifespan of the trail. Our volunteers do an excellent job maintaining the annual needs of the trail, but with so much infrastructure aging out all at once we are in a situation where the trail needs both strong volunteer support and the assistance of contractors funded by grants. Parks and trails use is up as a result of the pandemic. Has that translated into more volunteers? Not yet. The pandemic wasn’t very compatible with recruiting or training new volunteers and 2020 we scaled down our volunteer activities to keep people safe. Luckily, our 2021 trail maintenance operations are back up and running at full capacity. There are a lot of inquiries about volunteer opportunities and in 2022 we plan to have more events to get new volunteers connected, trained and involved. What’s your favorite part of your job? SHT stories, everyone has one. The Superior Hiking Trail has impacted people’s lives and connected them to nature, themselves and each other. Sometimes it’s a particular event, like a youth group or family backpacking trip that solidified someone’s love of the trail. Other times it’s about a specific place on the trail they connected to and return to year after year through the different seasons of their life. People use the trail to relax, reconnect to loved ones, resolve inner struggles. It’s an honor to hear these stories and steward this beloved recreational resource.
https://superiorhiking.org/ volunteer/ 6 Fall 2021
In Minnesota, you can hike thousands of trail miles. They’re all there, just waiting for you to cross their paths and discover their wonders. I’m a wedding and event photographer by trade and I had typically used my oﬀ-seasons to seek distant lands. After visiting a few state parks and finding so much beauty so close to home, I realized I barely knew my own home state. It turned out, 2020 was the year to try something completely diﬀerent and I decided to visit every one of Minnesota’s state parks in one year. I’m just an ordinary guy who dreams big and I knew I needed some help to accomplish this. I hired a cheap guide who let me explore these trails at my own pace. They outlined accomplishments, gave me a checklist, and rewarded me, the more I explored. They even aligned with my goal to visit every state park in a single year. My wonderful guide was the Minnesota State Parks and Trails Hiking Club. Minnesota state parks and some recreation areas have a designated trail as part of the Hiking Club program. They vary in accessibility and beauty, but this 194.1-mile hiking tour provides the best, cohesive overview of our state from the ground. Whether you choose to visit a few or all of the state parks in one year, there are a few things that I found essential to make this a successful journey.
A STOUT RIDE
JOHN A. LATSCH STATE PARK Minnesota Trails
Besides my bed, my car seat was the most occupied place for me in 2020. You’ll want something dependable, comfortable and sturdy, with good speakers and a handsfree way to call your friends. Though each park wasn’t usually a particularly long drive from the previous, you’ll be heading out to sixty-eight diﬀerent locations. And unless you can do it all in one huge trip -it took me ten outings-you’ll be doing a lot of back and forth driving. To pass the time, I listened to enormous amounts of podcasts, twenty hours
By Ian Hanson of books on tape, and spent hours catching up on phone calls. I’m also glad Minnesota doesn’t have toll roads, as I put on 11,000 miles just for this project.
SOLID FOOT CASINGS
I took three pairs of boots with me to make sure I always had a dry pair for the next hike. I’ve always been a traditional hiking boot guy, but during this project one of my three pairs was a technical, lightweight pair from Vasque, a Minnesota company. The rumors might be true, lighter feet are better. With 56 hiking days to gauge it, I felt less fatigued every day I wore the light boots and I may make the switch once my other pairs wear out. Paired with high-quality wool socks, I never had a blister after breaking in my footwear.
AN ARTISTIC OUTLET
Find a way to record your trip. Whether that’s writing in a journal, poetry, song lyrics, sketching, painting or leaf collecting, do something. It’s one way you can make this journey personal and have a great recollection for storytelling later. My outlet has always been photography, and I struggled to not have the camera at my eye all the time. My final photo count between five cameras came in around 25,000 images in 2020.
YOUR HEAD ON A SWIVEL
Hiking this project was all about collecting the passwords located halfway on the trail and recording them in the passport. Only twice did I initially miss these typically well-placed signs. Once, on a time crunch at Lake Carlos, I re-ran the route only to find the secret word on a sign pointing away from the direction I’d come. The second one I missed because I was looking at my phone when I passed it. And, scout’s honor, don’t cheat on the passwords as tempting as it may be when you’re tired or the bugs come Fall 2021 7
SOUTH Lake Louise State Park
This is what I call my home park. It’s the closest to my home and the one I’ve been to the most often. In 2020 I pushed myself to see it in a couple of diﬀerent seasons, late winter and late spring. For the first time, I had a sandhill crane fly over my head. This park embodies what I hope for all of us to find, the backyard we didn’t know we had. No matter the park, experiencing them repeatedly, seeing the change, becoming familiar, that’s where the special sauce is.
NORTHWEST Hayes Lake State Park
This was a surprise, because my timing was impeccable. I stumbled upon numerous snapping turtles laying eggs and totally forgot about photographing landscapes. I had never seen these creatures in the wild, let alone during such an interesting time.
NORTHEAST Temperance River State Park
This is the hardest section of the state to pick a favorite in. In my notes I wrote down that Temperance was the most “distracting” state park. Besides passing through on the Superior Hiking Trail, I had never been there and I never made it more than two minutes between stops before I wanted to stop and look at something else, again and again.
CENTRAL Glacial Lakes State Park
out. Hike the whole trail, even if you pick a direction that shows you the password early. Depending on where you park and which direction you start on the trail, you may find it right away.
AN OPEN MIND
Minnesota is a marathon, not a sprint. We don’t have a Grand Canyon, a Mount McKinley, or grizzly bears. What we have is a collection of experiences that grow on you as you slowly accumulate them. Hiking our state parks is more of a return to nature than visiting the Rocky Mountains, because in that scenario, most of us never stop being tourists. If you quickly pass through, the depth of a place is lost in its pretty patina. Hiking these best 194.1 miles of Minnesota will put you through your paces. You’ll see the seasons, you’ll make discoveries, and you’ll learn something. And that’s what it’s all about.
THE 2020 CONUNDRUM
This adventure plan of mine had been in the works for six years, and before anyone had even heard of a coronavirus, I had made 2020 the year to visit and photograph all of the state parks. I was three parks in, doing research in the Lake City Public Library, when Governor Walz first addressed the state. Aside from the local Family Dollar being completely void of toilet paper and hand sanitizer, I wasn’t sure how these shutdowns would aﬀect the venture I had just started. It turns out it was the perfect year for it. Campgrounds largely closed down but the parks stayed open and with social distancing built in to the great outdoors I was able to move forward and stay safe.
All was not perfect, however. While traveling, I relied on charging and research time at places like public libraries and coﬀee shops. With indoor spaces closed, I spent a lot more time on my phone in the car. I had also looked forward to speaking with park staﬀ, interviewing and learning from them. With every oﬃce closed, I could no longer ask questions and get insider information. And the worst part, all interpretive events were discontinued. This was a huge loss. In March, the week before the closures, I had been fortunate enough to experience maple syrup harvesting at Whitewater State Park. Along with snowshoeing Jay Cooke State Park under the light of a wolf moon, it was one of the best things I did in 2020. I try not to think about all the other great opportunities I missed out on. Despite the lows, there were still many highs to be had. After finding new parks I had never heard of before, I began to make a list of places to return to when without the pressure to finish and move to the next one. Here’s an overview (graphic to left), by region, of some of the standouts and you can get most of these great experiences just from the Hiking Club trails. Some things in life you can only learn through experience. A person can describe Minnesota to you. But until you walk the battlegrounds, march the old portages, stride alongside bison, hike through old growth pines, or trek bog boardwalks, you simply cannot know it. This I have learned is true of both home, and abroad. So put on your boots and start kicking up some dust and mud on the most magnificent, 194.1 Miles of Minnesota Hiking Trails.
I loved how diﬀerent it felt here. It’s one of the few places you can still experience the rolling, open prairie that originally covered much of the state. I liken it to our Midwestern version of the ocean. The smooth, rolling hills put you in a calm mood that’s hard to find elsewhere.
METRO Afton State Park
The only park where I saw a bald eagle bringing a fish back to its treetop nest, people hammocking over a sand bar in a floodplain forest, remote hilltop campsites, someone slacklining between trees on the river, a stand of pine plantation perfectly lit by the sunset and prairie in the same place. It was just fantastic and I’ll swing through a lot more often now that I know it’s there. 8 Fall 2021
marked the first park after an unintentional break, and I loved it. The variety of landscapes from riverside to rolling prairie abounded with eagle nests, slack liners, great camping, and contemplative forest paths.
bike hastings home of the 10-mile loop
AFTON STATE PARK
visit hastings mn.org Fall 2021 9
Paddle the Crow Wing River Water Trail or one over 400 lakes to enjoy fallPARK colors from a new WORLDofFAMOUS ITASCA STATE perspective. Rentals are available and lodging WORLD FAMOUS amenities abound to make your trip enjoyable. ITASCA 800-247-0054 STATE PARK www.parkrapids.com • #VisitParkRapids
10 Fall 2021
ITASCA STATE PARK
late, knowing I would have to return in the morning. As the light faded, cranes fished in the tall grasses, kayakers like silhouettes floated in, and I attempted to take it all in.
Fall 2021 11
Not a STATE
park, but still worth a trip. As the boardwalk ends, the black spruce and tamarack give way to an expansive view of Minnesota’s last true wilderness. A vestige to the way things were, that won out over European settlers who attempted to drain it.
Walker invites youto enjoy the Fall colors! By Boat, Bike or Car
12 Fall 2021
BIG BOG STATE REC. AREA
tailed deer had already graced me with her presence as I started the boardwalk trail. I love a good boardwalk and this one was exceptional, greeting with my first real-life finding of our state flower, the pink and white lady’s slipper.
LAKE BEMIDJI STATE PARK
Fall 2021 13
is a special time at Jay Cooke State Park. On a bitterly cold January morning I crossed the iconic swinging bridge to get to the trails on the other side of the St. Louis River. I skied almost ten miles that day and saw only one other person.
JAY COOKE STATE PARK - WINTER
JAY COOKE STATE PARK - EARLY FALL
14 Fall 2021
the parks showed me the multitudes of ways that others use the parks. From athletic to artistic endeavors, I was consistently surprised by others’ ingenuity
Fall 2021 15
SPLIT ROCK LIGHTHOUSE STATE PARK
16 Fall 2021
embodied everything about this trip. Split Rock Lighthouse is my most visited spot, as I continuously missed arriving in time for an actual sunrise. When I finally made it, I was disappointed with the images I had taken. Too dumb to quit, I tried a different spot and opted to challenge the waves. The juice was worth the squeeze and, yes, I got wet.
Fall 2021 17
waterfall in Minnesota takes no small feat to get to. Simultaneously it might be the most accessible of our state’s viewpoints. The path is made for everyone, on pavement and wooden boardwalks. You simply need to drive to the very end of the state. And it’s worth every mile.
18 Fall 2021
GRAND PORTAGE STATE PARK
Trail had a different feel than anywhere else I’d been. A post-glacial feature called an esker, formed by deposits of sand and gravel in ice tunnels at the base of a mile-thick ice sheet as it melts. On either side of this path the earth falls away to Coon and Sandwick Lakes, providing a unique experience walking above and between them.
SCENIC STATE PARK
Fall 2021 19
not the entire adventure. On this trail I experienced high highs and low lows. Horseback riders offered me beverages when I was thirsty from the afternoon sun. And I locked myself out of my car midway through changing to swim in the lake. You just never know what will happen.
MAPLEWOOD STATE PARK
20 Fall 2021
Fall 2021 21
exudes nostalgia for me, as it was the first park I practiced my project idea on. In 2014 I made a day trip and it scratched the itch just enough that I knew I would one day come back.
22 Fall 2021
FATHER HENNEPIN STATE PARK
I had to
walk back in the dark after taking this photo, but the scenic overlook at the end of High Peak Trail offered me a clear view of the sunset at 1,352 ft.
GLACIAL LAKES STATE PARK
VISITBRAINERD Choose Your Adventure.
VisitBrainerd.com Fall 2021 23
2/11/2020 10:52:34 AM
so close I can’t believe I had never been. Long docks through long grasses are like little gateways to new worlds.
24 Fall 2021
RICE LAKE STATE PARK
a beginning, and there must be an end. The project was nearing its end as I visited Camden and ‘bitter-sweet’ never made more sense. Sunrises in fall maple forests were just the way to wrap it up.
CULTIVATING THE BEST EXPERIENCES ON THE CAMDEN REGIONAL BIKE TRAIL
V I S I T
VISITMARSHALLMN.COM 507-537-1865 MARSHALL, MN
CAMDEN STATE PARK
Fall 2021 25
wished I had researched each park beforehand, waiting for the perfect amount of preparation would keep me from doing anything. I arrived at Frontenac to find beautiful sunset views and afterwards a sky full of migrating birds.
26 Fall 2021
FRONTENAC STATE PARK
had been muddy, rainy and, honestly, a little bit dreary. However, I’ve found if you stay long enough you can be surprised. The road between Upper and Lower Sakatah revealed a sunset with cormorants I will never forget.
SAKATAH LAKE STATE PARK
Fall 2021 27
28 Fall 2021
LAKE LOUISE STATE PARK
brings a new look. I had never been to my nearby park in the spring, when trails are covered by snow. Thusly, I had never realized how beautiful the melting of winter can be.
Fall 2021 29
Bike Rides & Tours MnGravel160
Tour of Lakes
Mora Bike Tour
September 10-12, 2021
September 11, 2021
September 18, 2021
Road/Gravel | Willmar, MN
Road | Brainerd, MN
For more information visit:
For more information visit:
CARAMEL APPLE RIDE
September 11, 2021
September 12-18, 2021
Trail | Sauk Centre, MN
Enjoy the fall colors and great apple refreshments at all the rest stops including caramel apples and other treats from local vendors. Spend the day riding the great Lake Wobegon Trail Country.
Taste of the Trail
Ride the Ridges will take riders through some of the most scenic areas in southeastern Minnesota, from lush valleys along streams to bluffs overlooking the Mississippi River. Four routes, ranging from short to a century. Each route has hills and valleys and spectacular views.
Saint Paul Classic Bike Tour 2.0 Trail | Saint Paul, MN
September 12, 2021
For more information visit:
North Star Bicycle Race
Chatfield, Fountain, Preston, Harmony, MN
September 15, 2021
Road | Saint Paul, MN to US-Canada border For more information visit:
Houston, Rushford Area, MN
Trail | Willmar, Spicer & New London, MN
For more information visit:
More details at www.mntrails.com/ events
RIDE THE RIDGES
For more information visit:
Lanesboro, Whalan, Peterson, MN September 25, 2021
www.mntrails.com/event/mora-bike-tour Road | Winona, MN
September 18, 2021
For more information visit:
Road | East Grand Forks, MN
September 11, 2021
Road | Mora, MN
MAYOR’S BIKE RIDE
September 17, 2021 The communities of Willmar, Spicer and New London are coming together for a bike ride. Mayors from Spicer, New London and Willmar will be leading a ride starting in each of their towns.
The Central Lakes Trail Starts Here BikeFergusFalls.com
September 18, 2021
Heck of the North
Gravel | Two Harbors, MN
September 25, 2021
For more information visit:
Fulton Gran Fondo Road | Minneapolis, MN
September 25, 2021
For more information visit:
Road/Trail | Park Rapids, MN
September 25, 2021
For more information visit:
Rent a trike or rent a shuttle
It’s a good day for a ride!
TRANSPORT OR TRIKE
Enjoy 55 miles
of beautiful, paved rail-trails across central Minnesota. SAVE THE DATE
RAIL TRAILS 100 BIKE TOUR
30 Fall 2021
Bike Rides & Tours
PARK 2 PARK ADVENTURE RIDE
Road | Little Falls, MN
September 25, 2021 Get to know the future route of the Camp Ripley/Veterans State Trail and explore Little Falls. When complete, this unique trail will connect The Soo Line bike trail with Crow Wing State Park and join together the Central Lakes, Lake Wobegon, Soo Line, Paul Bunyan, Heartland and Mi-GiZi Trails! Leave Charles A. Lindbergh State Park and choose from several options. www.littlefallsmn.com
Road/Trail | Prior Lakes, MN
September 25, 2021
For more information visit:
Have bike event photos? Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org
THE BLACK & WHITE www.attheblacknwhite.com
Best Dining inalls! Little F
Your stop for
art, food, beer & wine
- Innovative Menu - Craft Beers on Tap - Great Wine Selection - Historic Setting
116 First Street SE Little Falls, MN 56345
on the Lake Wobegon Trail
Open April-October | 1400 4th Street, Holdingford | 320-746-0680 320.632.5374
Biking! The Centre of it all!
where you can experience art, shop, eat, golf, fish, camp, explore & more. STAY THE WEEKEND
Home of the Lake Wobegon Trail Covered Bridge
GOPHER PRAIRIE INN
• Caramel Apple Ride (September 7) Mark your • 510 Art Lab-Art Crawl (September 18) calendars • Mural Tour or Self-Guided Historic Tour Visit our website for information on these events and more.
Explore the most scenic stretch of the Lake Wobegon and Soo Line Trails!
Visit us Online www.holdingfordmn.us
Ad courtesy of City of Holdingford and Holdingford Municipal Liquor Cyclists Welcome!
Fall 2021 31
Bike Rides & Tours Gravel Grovel
Gravel | Miesville, MN
September 26, 2021
For more information visit:
as 10 P
Fall de Tonka
Road/Trail | Minnetonka, MN
September 26, 2021
For more information visit:
THE FILTHY 50
Gravel | Lanesboro, MN
's La rgest
October 9, 2021 The Filthy 50 is an unsupported, timed gravel bike event through southern Minnesota’s scenic bluff country. You can ride at a leisurely pace or race to challenge yourself.
Pipestone ... yles argo G 16
Mankato River Ramble Road | Mankato, MN
Pedal the Picture perfect Prairie! Prairie !
CASEY JONES STATE TRAIL (10 MILES = 8 PAVED, 2 GRAVEL) PIPESTONE NATIONAL MONUMENT ~ WINNEWISSA FALLS SPLIT ROCK CREEK STATE PARK ~ CAMPING ~ HIKING UNIQUE SHOPPING ~ DELICIOUS DINING ~ HISTORIC DISTRICT
October 10, 2021
For more information visit:
The Pie Burner
Gravel | Hibbing, MN
November 27, 2021
For more information visit:
ONE STEP FOR ME
120 miles for you
MNBIKETRAIL.COM 32 Fall 2021
Where the heck is
Breadloaf Ridge? By Zach Johns
Last summer I came across a social media post from the Superior Hiking Trail Association (SHTA) announcing their “Summit Challenge.” It sounded exciting and I opened the link expecting to find the normal list of peaks that I, an SHT enthusiast, had climbed every year like clockwork, since the mid-nineties: Carlton Peak, Mount Trudee, Oberg Mountain. Those would be on the list for sure, right? What I found surprised me. Stewart Knob? Wildflower Hill? Glove Overlook? Railroad Vista? What were these places? I had never heard of them, which was strange because having hiked the entire trail, I had obviously been to them all. Not only had I worn out dozens of pairs of hiking boots, I had also represented the trail at countless events, confidently answering questions from aspiring hikers. Yet if one had walked up to me and asked for the best trailhead to access the Downers Park Overlook, I would have frozen in my tracks, stumped. That was the genius of last year’s Summit Challenge. It took hikers away from the SHT’s “Greatest Hits” and out to some of its lesser-known gems. In a year when COVID restrictions pushed more and more people into the Outdoors, it was greatly needed. People who had not set foot on a hiking trail in years, if ever, suddenly swarmed the North Shore of Lake Superior. Cars spilled out of trailhead parking lots and onto local roads as hikers
explored the spectacular vistas they had seen on social media. The SHTA knew they needed to do something to spread out the throngs of hikers. In August they devised the Summit Challenge and many of us bit. Personally, I can’t resist a challenge, especially when hiking is involved. From 2006 to 2011 my two sons and I crisscrossed the state gathering passwords for the Minnesota State Parks Hiking Club while hiking over 200 miles in our glorious parks. From the lush forests in the southeast corner, to the prairies of the west, to pine country close to home, it was a grand adventure. Like the Summit Challenge, the Hiking Club took us places we might not have normally thought to hike, as we visited every state park in Minnesota. The final password we found happened to be “Diversity,” which truly summed up the experience. I’ve also participated in the North Country Trail Association’s (NCTA) annual Hike 100 program, which challenges hikers to log 100 miles on the North Country National Scenic Trail. That challenge was easy for me since the SHT is part of the NCT and I usually get 100 miles in by late September. Last year I had three months off due to the pandemic and I was able to finish by mid-May. It was a great start to the hiking season. The Summit Challenge, though, was unique. After scouring the maps and guidebook to figure out just where
the heck some of these places were, my friends and I hit the trail. The SHTA gave us a list of 12 objectives with a goal of hiking seven to qualify for the prize pin, but we wanted the full dozen. I’ll admit, not all of the places on the list were obscure. The majestic 270-Degree Overlook with its spectacular view into the Canadian wilderness at the trail’s northern terminus was on the list. So was Pincushion Mountain, towering high above Grand Marais and showing off its wonderful, newly reconstructed trail section. However, many were off the well-beaten path in parts of the trail I hadn’t hiked in decades. It was wonderful to have a reason to get back there and realize, “Wow, I forgot how nice this section is, I need to hike here more often!” The need for a plan to facilitate the dispersal of hikers was never more obvious than one morning as we left our basecamp in Finland, MN. We drove into Silver Bay for breakfast before heading south to hit a couple more summits. As we passed by the Penn Boulevard trailhead, we were shocked to see cars lined up for blocks along both sides of the road at nine o’clock in the morning. That trailhead is the gateway to the immensely popular Bear and Bean lakes but the amount of cars that day was staggering. I could only imagine the crowds standing elbow-to-elbow atop the overlooks. After breakfast we hiked to Breadloaf Ridge and saw no one.
This year’s Summit Challenge runs through October 31 and the Hike 100 Challenge ends December 31. See pages 34 & 35.
Raven Rock Photo by Roberta Laidlaw Minnesota Trails
Fall 2021 33
Hike 100 Locations 1. Prairie Wetlands Learning Center Accumulate miles with loops of multiple lengths through the beautiful prairies of the Prairie Wetlands Learning Center, right off of I-94 in Fergus Falls. 2. Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge The two-mile Tamarac Lake loop takes you through a mix of prairie and north woods at scenic Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge near Detroit Lakes. 3. Itasca State Park See the Mississippi’s “true Headwaters” in Itasca State Park near Park Rapids on a five-mile out and back trek into the DeSoto Lake Campsite. 4. Paul Bunyan State Forest Experience old-growth pines around very scenic, all natural Waboose Lake in the Paul Bunyan State Forest near Akeley on a four-mile walk.
North Country Trail
Hike 100 Challenge By Matt Davis
Back in 2016, the North Country Trail Association (NCTA) started the Hike 100 Challenge in honor of the Centennial celebration of the National Park Service, which oversees administration of the North Country National Scenic Trail (NCT). The Challenge proved to be wildly popular with the public and attracted lots of interest from new hikers, and they’ve continued it every year since. All
5. Chippewa National Forest Hike three miles from W. Macemon Road to the Hwy 200 parking area and enjoy “wetland wonders” in the Chippewa National Forest near Longville.
Along the NCT near Pine Lake in Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge.
6. Grand Rapids Hike four and a half miles from the Sports Complex across the historic research forests of the University of Minnesota, and through displays of iron mining history on Arbo Township lands to the CR-61 trailhead near Grand Rapids. 7. Bingshick Lake Take the Kekekabic Trail and NCT from the Gunflint Trail trailhead out to Bingshick Lake and back for a total of six miles. You’ll see evidence of historic iron mining exploration activities near Mine Lake. 8. Loon Lake Landing The Border Route Trail, NCT and Bryce Breon Trail loops have fantastic views of Gunflint Lake below. Start from the Loon Lake Landing near Gunflint Lake and enjoy 4.8 miles of solitude.
you have to do is log your miles hiking, walking, running, skiing and snowshoeing, day hiking or backpacking on the NCT between January 1 and December 31. Once you reach 100 miles you’ll receive a certificate and a patch. There’s even a collar tag for your furry friend. Fall is around the corner and those perfect hiking temperatures are on their way. Here are some suggested hikes from across northern Minnesota. It’s not too late to start collecting miles.
www.northcountrytrail.org/hike-100-challenge Photo by North Country Trail Association
Your Adventure Starts Nearby.
Download our FREE detailed hiking maps at
northcountry trail.org/ 34 Fall 2021
Follow us on Facebook (@NCTinMN)
Volunteers from the six Minnesota North Country Trail Association Chapters, along with those of our partners at the Border Route Trail Association and Superior Hiking Trail Association, invite you to get out and hike on the North Country National Scenic Trail (NCT) across northern Minnesota this fall. Minnesota Trails
Summit Challenge By Matt Davis
Wildflower Hill Photo by Roberta Laidlaw
The Superior Hiking Trail Association (SHTA) is mixing up their challenge this year to include areas that aren’t really summits, but are still worthy destinations for a hike. Some of them are lesser-visited sections while several highlight some of the SHTA’s recent trail renewal work. Hike to seven of the 12 destinations before October 31, 2021 and share a photo through your social media page using the hashtag #SHTSummitChallenge, then fill out the SHTA’s brief survey. Successful hikers are eligible to receive a Summit Challenge button.
12 11 8
4 More Info:
Summit Challenge 1. Southern Terminus Arch Anyone who starts or ends their hike here at the terminus will agree that this location is a high point, if not a true “summit.” 2. Ely’s Peak Nowhere near the town of Ely, this Duluth favorite gives you an expansive view of the St. Louis River Estuary. 3. Peace Ridge Loops and vistas? What could be better? 4. Rock Knob Nowhere else on the trail can you overlook an old farm turned wet meadow. 5. Fox Farm Pond If you access this pond from western Fox Farm Road Trailhead, you’ll know why it’s called a summit. The spur trail up from the trailhead does have a vista as well. 6. Reeves Falls A hidden gem of the Superior Hiking Trail, this tiny waterfall cascades seasonally. 7. Faultline Valley Vista Inland vistas abound in this area. 8. Sawmill Creek Pond Boardwalk Another symbolic “high point” is this boardwalk, constructed just last year. 9. Tower Overlook There’s no nicer place for a water break on the whole trail. 10. Cedar Overlook You may have been to Leveaux Mountain and Britton Peak, but this overlook tucked between those two points of interest rarely sees any visitors. 11. Hellacious Overlook One of the most expansive views on the entire SHT, this overlook is as epic as it gets. 12. Rosebush Ridge If you’re expecting a fantastic view from the highest point on the SHT, prepare for disappointment. However, just a mile north of here is a nice overlook.
www.superiorhiking.org/summit-challenge Minnesota Trails
Fall 2021 35
Trails Q & A
John & Kellie Van Slyke Ham Lake, MN
Seen: Camping and celebrating Christmas early with their dogs Jake and Chewbacca at Wild River State Park. Gear: Jayco Eagle travel trailer on its maiden voyage. How many miles do you hike a year? 25 to 30 miles a year. What does being outdoors mean to you? John: Being able to enjoy nature, take walks, just be away from everybody else. How do you feel about camping in December? Kellie: This year we were like ‘Ok, we’re not doing the same old Christmas shopping at the Mall of America, so let’s go camping’. Favorite Minnesota state park? Kellie: This one for closeness. It has big sites, it’s wooded, it has great hiking. Best Minnesota parks experience? Kellie: Our very first camping trip at Mille Lacs Kathio in the fall. It was perfect weather, magical, great hiking. Worst Minnesota parks experience? John: Rolling down the Bluffside Trail at Frontenac State Park and breaking my humerus bone. Advice for the novice hiker: Kellie: Go off the beaten path. John: Bring a cellphone and plenty of water. What would you do with $1,000? John: Take out all of our friends camping and cover everything. Trail Treat: Kellie: Peanut butter and apples, granola bars.
Snapshots of people we meet along the trail
Jaron Cramer Duluth, MN
Seen: Hiking Section 13 of the Superior Hiking Trail (SHT) near Finland, MN Occupation: Development and Communications Director with the Superior Hiking Trail Association. Best Minnesota trail experience? I really love trail running in the winter in Duluth. When conditions are right, it’s an awesome way to stay sane and warm and see some excellent winter-only sights. Advice to hikers: Do what you can to recreate responsibly, practice Leave No Trace, advocate for public lands, be kind and helpful to other trail users, and give back to help to keep the outdoors accessible and enjoyable for all. What would you do with $1,000? I’d look for the greatest good I could do with the money and donate to organizations working to help on this front. Favorite Minnesota park or trail? The SHT obviously, but a close second is the amazing parks system in Duluth. As a self-described hike-run-bike-skipaddle enthusiast, there is just so much here for me to enjoy. Favorite hiking gear or clothing? My lightweight hydration pack. I’ve learned that I really don’t need to carry much more than the essentials to enjoy my time in the outdoors. Future Minnesota plans: Beyond visiting many more state parks, I’d really like to backpack the Border Route Trail and the Kekekabic Trail. How many trail miles do you hike or run per year? Around 500.
Which state parks are on your bucket list? John: Just the three we haven’t been to, yet. Kellie: Glendalough, Lake Carlos, Lake Louise. Trail Treat: Peanut butter Minnesota 36 Fall 2021 Trails
Phillip Johnson Bemidji, MN
Seen: Camping with his wife Vonda and their Golden Retriever, Ricki, at Bear Head Lake. Occupation: Former building contractor, retired as of yesterday.
Teresa Coble Topeka, KS
Seen: Hiking the Superior Hiking Trail near the High Falls of the Baptism River. Occupation: Librarian How many miles do you hike per year? Only 50.
Gear: Tab 320 S teardrop travel trailer, Boondock edition.
Best Minnesota experience: Right here!
Favorite Minnesota state park? This one is it, right now, because it has great access to the water. Itasca State Park would be the other one, but that’s from the tradition of visiting for 30 years.
Worst Minnesota hiking experience: None at all.
Best Minnesota outdoor experience? Visiting the Boundary Waters. You don’t have people everywhere. Worst Minnesota outdoor experience? Camping at Lake Bemidji State Park in 100-degree heat with my twoyear old daughter on the Fourth of July.
Advice to the novice hiker: Wear sunscreen and sturdy shoes. What would you do with $1,000? Put it in the bank. Favorite Minnesota park: All of the North Shore parks. Favorite hiking gear or clothing: Good legs and Nike running shoes. Trail Treat: Almond butter Clif Bars
Advice for the novice camper? This is only our fourth outing with this trailer, but I’d say start young and with a tent, then do some research into trailers. What’s on your Minnesota bucket list? I’m going to revisit places I’ve camped with a tent. I’ll stay at Itasca State Park Tuesdays through Thursdays. What would you do with $1,000? I don’t know, maybe buy a kayak. Trail Treat? Potato pancakes in a cast iron skillet.
Minnesota Fall 2021 36 Trails
Fall 2021 37
By Molly Brewer Hoeg
A bike ride is so much better with a des- We frequently transport our bikes to Marcell pavement. At our usual moderate pace of 12 tination. That sense of purpose turns a bike or Bigfork to begin our rides, avoiding the miles an hour, it took less than 90 minutes route into an adventure. So it was the day beautiful but dangerously curvy Highway to get there. we cycled to the Lost 40. 38, the Edge of the Wilderness Scenic Our final approach took us along In the 26 years we have owned our cab- Byway, near our cabin. Using a short stretch of dirt road, in on North Star Lake north of Grand Rapids, Google Maps it’s easy to which was easily naviwe’ve done our share of exploring and hik- pick out circle routes gable with our bikes. New interpretive ing with our kids, but somehow we’d never or out-and-back With no fanfare, we signs are being installed. made it to the Lost 40. We knew vaguely of rides of varying reached the simPhoto by Chippewa its history and its fabled old growth forest. length. ple Forest SerNational Forest In 1882 intrepid surveyors camped in For this vice sign that the November chill and swirling snow to outing, Rich marks the ensurvey the Minnesota Northwoods. An error chose the trance to the in their calculations placed Coddington Lake B i g f o r k Lost 40 SNA. about one-half mile further northwest than River public According to it actually lies. As a result, maps produced access near AmberBeth using this wrong data showed a lake where Highway 6 VanNingen, there wasn’t one and the timber in that area and County DNR Northwas never logged. Today, these 144 acres of Road 14 as east Regional old growth red and white pine forest are our starting SNA Specialist, protected as a Scientific and Natural Area point. It had “The primary (SNA). It’s a Minnesota treasure that allows the advantage goal of an SNA is to us a glimpse of what Minnesota looked like of a parking lot and preserve Minnesota’s before the settlers arrived. a reasonable 36-mile outdoor heritage. It’s Armed with this overview, round trip disespecially focused on native we set off to discover it for tance. Coming plant communities and rare speourselves. It is little surfrom the east was con- cies. These old growth trees fit well into that prise that we chose venient for us but designation.” Visitors are encouraged to to bike there. starting in the explore these natural areas, but recreation Upon our retirewest, the city is limited to activities that will continue to ment my husof Alvwood protect the health of this fragile habitat. In band, Rich, would be keeping with that, we parked our bikes at and I took a 26-mile the entrance as they are not allowed on the up bicycle trip. Leav- site. touring, ing from I found that the simplicity and quiet traveling B l a c k d u c k nature of the Lost 40 greatly enhanced its for weeks requires a at a time more amwith limited bitious 54 The author and belongings miles. Both of one of the red pines and seeing these are outinside the SNA. the countryside and-back routes. Photo by Rich Hoeg at a slow pace. In Early Septembetween we can freber delivered a perfect quently be found riding cycling day. The heat of for training or pleasure — usuthe summer had broken, giving ally both. us pleasant sunshine with temperatures The area north of Marcell is ripe with in the 60s. It was a flat route, with easy cylow traffic roads that make ideal bike routes. cling along roads with little traffic and good
LEARN MORE ABOUT THE LOST 40: • MNDNR Lost 40 SNA: www.dnr.state.mn.us/snas/list.html
• Chippewa National Forest Lost 40: www.fs.usda.gov/chippewa 38 Fall 2021
appeal. The real stars were the trees. They were massive, up to 250 years old and between 22 and 48 inches in diameter. The best way to see them was to walk the onemile interpretive trail. It was easy to follow, with a wide flat surface carpeted with leaves and pine needles. There were just enough informational signs to be interesting without interrupting the flow of a leisurely walk. In that short distance I learned plenty. I discovered how to distinguish the bark of a white pine to that of a red pine. I tried in vain to find the fern-like seedlings of cedar trees. I could see the effects of the rust disease brought in by imported pine species. I hugged an enormous red pine, and admired a towering white pine. Owing to a unique combination of ownership by the Chippewa National Forest and the State DNR, the Lost 40 has the benefit of more amenities than most other SNAs. It’s easily accessible by car and includes a parking lot with a vault toilet. In winter, Itasca County keeps the road plowed and the un-groomed trail is open for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Since our visit, new interpretive panels have been installed. They highlight not only the importance of old growth forest, but also the diverse plant and animal species, geology and fire history in the area. New directional signs include tree identification
Hikers walk among some Old Growth. Photo by Chippewa National Forest
tips for visitors along the way. Karen Lessard, Blackduck District Ranger of the Chippewa National Forest, notes that their objectives are to keep the area accessible to the public, and to let it be. “Imagine all of Minnesota covered with these big, beautiful trees,” she says.
The quiet of the woods and the majesty of the trees remained with me after we had left. As we retraced our bike route back to the car I reflected on the good fortune that preserved those trees. No longer lost, the Lost Forty SNA is a site well worth visiting, no matter what your mode of transport.
The Significance of the Lost 40 Less than 2 percent of Minnesota’s forests contain old growth timber The old growth white and red pine in the Lost 40 are considered the most significant in Minnesota outside of Itasca State Park and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness The oldest white pine at the Lost 40 is about 194 years old. White pine can live up to 450 years, but most live to around 200 years. The oldest red pine there is about 250 years old. The oldest recorded red pine at the Lost 40 was 307 years old. Most of the mature red and white pine are between 22 and 48 inches in diameter. In other areas of the forest, trees are harvested at 80-150 years
135MILES MILES OF PAVED 135 OF PAVED TRAIL, 135 MILES OF PAVED TRAIL,
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New Campground at Split Rock Lighthouse State Park Makes Connections
By Tom Watson
Split Rock Lighthouse State Park on Minnesota’s North Shore needs no introduction. The popular tourist destination near Silver Bay brings in about 400,000 visitors each year who come to hike, bike, dive, paddle and visit the historic lighthouse. Overnight stays have always been a tent-only affair where campers had to bring in their gear by cart or backpack. With the new Shipwreck Creek Campground in the final stages of development, this is about to change. The new campground, named after a nearby stream, will feature 46 drive-in campsites with tent spots, including three wheelchair accessible sites, artfully etched out of the exposed basalt rock and northern forests high above Lake Superior. The addition of these new sites means a 20 percent increase in overnight campsites among Minnesota’s eight North Shore state parks. A critical factor in developing the campground was the changing importance of RV camping. “Campgrounds used to be laid out so sites were close together, to fit everyone in,” says Katie Foshay, the manager of Split Rock Lighthouse State Park. But that was before large recreational vehicles became a common sight in campgrounds.
40 Fall 2021
Plans to include a campground above Highway 61 were first discussed as early as 1980, but planning for the campground did not begin until 2008. Another ten years later it was officially listed as a project and work ultimately began in 2019. The campground plan was created by landscape architects at WSB Engineering in Minneapolis and designed to follow the contours of the land. “Definitely, there’s going to be a lot of screening between sites,” says Foshay. “All the trees that could be spared were left where they stood,” she said. “It will take some time for things to green up and start to grow up there, so expect the campground to get better as the years go by,” she adds. Lake Superior won’t be readily visible from the campsites as they’re about a mile away from the lake on higher ground, shielded by vegetation. You may be able to spy Gitchi-Gami in winter when foliage has thinned out. Campground facilities within the three loops of the 46-site campground include a modern sanitation building with flush toilets, showers, and Wi-Fi access at the building. The solar-assisted source of hot water is one of only a few in Minnesota state parks. To offset the energy consumption,
solar panels were installed at the Iron Range Off Highway Vehicle (OHV) park in Gilbert, MN, a location more conducive to solar power generation. The additions of roads, paved pathways and trails makes the new campground a hub for multiple use staging within the park, and means connections to adjacent trail networks. Access to the upper campground will be from the lower park and lighthouse area via a road under Highway 61. A parking lot for hikers and bikers will provide access to both the Gitchi-Gami State Trail and a network of new mountain bike trails adjacent to the park that have been built through a cooperative effort between Lake County and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR). The new Split Rock Wilds mountain bike trail will link the state park’s campground area and the Cove Point Lodge property near Silver Bay with a loop trail system of about 20 miles. 12 miles were constructed concurrent with the Shipwreck Campground development and the remaining miles are scheduled to be completed this year. (Read about the Split Rock Wilds Trail in our 2021 spring edition on Issuu.com) “We [didn’t] have any drive-in sites at
the park and there’s a lot of people that are looking for that,” says Foshay. “So it’ll bring about a lot more camping opportunities, show some people some different aspects of that park that they didn’t know existed,” she adds. Foshay says there is a heavy demand on the North Shore of Minnesota for camping in general, and electric camping has become more popular over the years with increased RV sales. “Shipwreck Creek Campground is laid out in a way that features the natural landscape and bedrock of Split Rock Lighthouse State Park, providing a unique and unforgettable camping experience.”
SHIPWRECK CREEK CAMPGROUND • Projected opening: May 2022 • 46 electric sites include 3 ADA-compliant sites • Modern restroom and shower building • Natural design and landscaping provides screening between sites • Future access to Gitchi-Gami State Trail and Split Rock Wilds Mountain Bike Trail Split Rock Wilds Mountain Bike Trail • Split Rock Lighthouse State Park to Cove Point Lodge • 12 miles built in 2020: Intermediate to Expert • 10 more miles to come in 2021: Beginner to Intermediate • Access trail from Cove Point Lodge only until campground opens
Shipwreck Creek Map Courtesy of MNDNR
Road construction in progress in the campground area. Note: Road shown has since been paved. Photo Courtesy WSB Minnesota Trails
Fall 2021 41
Yo-Yo the Kek In October of 2020 my wife Kelly and I went for a hike on the Kekekabik Trail to experience the beautiful wilderness, wildlife, and weather of northern Minnesota. It was her first attempt at an end to end, “thruhike” and she accidentally broke a speed record. The trail, nicknamed the Kek, is a victim of a bad rap. Few muster the nerve to hike it after reading outdated, fear-inducing articles, hike journals, and blog posts that give the impression of a trail that’s treacherous and impossible to navigate. As a sesoned thru-hiker, I can tell you there’s a new Kek in Minnesota! Volunteer trail workers have devoted many hours over the past couple of years to transforming the Kek into a well-defined, beautiful, real Wilderness trail just over two hours north of Duluth. This past fall, we had the pleasure of hiking it end to end, and back again, a so-called a yo-yo hike. It was a wonderful 80-mile trek where we enjoyed six days of beautiful fall weather and colorsand met only three other people. The Kek traverses the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW), so we strategically started our hike after October 1. This allowed us to get our BWCA permit right at the trailhead and saved time and money, since summer permits have a fee and require more effort to obtain. It also meant much cooler temperatures, low humidity, and vir-
By Paul Kautz
tually no insects to battle. Mid-September abundant along the Kek. Just a few miles would have been the very best time for fall in on our first day, we encountered a hunter colors, but an army of trail volunteers was hiking out with three grouse he had taken. busy doing maintenance at that time and Throughout our trek, we scared up dozens we didn’t want to compete with them for of the birds that hid in waiting until the last limited camping spots. second. The 40-mile Kekekabic Trail compares Our first night, I thought I heard a favorably to the much more popular Su- couple of gunshots just across the lake perior Hiking Trail. It has from us. But in the mornover a dozen established ing we hiked across an BWCA campsites for active beaver dam and hikers along its route. saw two beavers efAll these sites have fortlessly gliding tent spots, a fire through the frigid grate, a pit toiwater and I figlet and water. ured it was Lakes and most likely streams their tail along the slaps I heard. trail let hikers There are more replenish their beavers per mile water supplies on the Kek than on easily and downed any other trail I’ve trees provide fire hiked. At the western end of wood. Views are abunWe saw many other the Kekekabic Trail. dant and varied, from birds, and some very fearlake overlooks, to walks less chipmunks and squiracross beaver dams, to glacial erratic boul- rels at the campsites, but only tracks and ders. The trail tread itself is well-defined scat from larger animals. The rodents were and easy to follow, but not intensely blazed well-trained to associate humans with food, like the Superior Hiking Trail. I believe there so be sure to protect your food, trash, and are more views per mile on the Kek. gear from their efforts. Being a wilderness trail, wildlife is Near the mid-point of the trail, Aga-
Trail crossing flowage between Thomas and Hatchet Lakes. Photos by Paul Kautz 42 Fall 2021
mok Lake drains northward into Mueller Lake through a deep, impassable gorge. The Kek crosses this impasse over the Agamok Bridge, an old, sturdy, wooden structure. It was my favorite spot on the trail. Besides that bridge, I also greatly enjoyed the sporadic glacial erratics; boulders left behind by the glaciers that carved out all of our spectacular lake country. Much of the trail has been hacked through dense north woods. That means the tread may be rough, but it’s actually easy to stay on course. As long as you can take five steps without running into a tree or brush, you’re on the trail in most places. On high, exposed hillsides and other rocky areas, you may notice cairns placed to mark the route. Situational awareness is very important at trail intersections. It’s quite easy to follow a portage trail instead of the Kek. Fortunately, when you come to a lake, you know you went the wrong way and it’s just a short, easy fix to get back on trail. On our third day, we reached the easternmost campsite of the trail on Bingshick Lake. If you’re going to yo-yo the trail, stop and set up camp here, then hike the last three miles to the Gunflint Trail road with minimal essentials. We didn’t know it then, but by thruhiking the Kek in two days, six hours, and 25 minutes, Kelly had set the fastest known time for women. Our return trip was uneventful, hiking the same trail in the opposite direction. We stayed at different campsites each night,
The bridge at Agamok Lake.
and I had time to do a little trail clearing while Kelly navigated our way back. As we were leaving the Wilderness, we encountered two guys who were just beginning their hike through to the Gunflint Trail road,
waiting to be picked up by their wives. Other than them, it felt like we had the entire wilderness to ourselves for five wonderful days.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Agamok Lake as seen from the trail. Minnesota Trails
Paul Kautz hikes, writes, cooks, and teaches others. He did his first thru-hike in 2012, at the age of 50, on the 800-mile Arizona Trail. This has been followed up by the Superior Hiking Trail, Ice Age Trail, Pacific Northwest Trail, and Kekekabic Trail. He typically hikes two thousand miles a year, between local hikes and long trails. Paul embraces technology in the outdoors as long as it does not adversely impact the recreation of others. He loves to blog in real time from the trail so others can get a sense of what life on the trail is like. You can read all about his long hikes and adventures on HikingDude.com When not hiking, Paul presents Wilderness First Aid, Leave No Trace, and lightweight backpacking training to other adventurers preparing for treks into the wild. Paul owns Active Source, Inc. and lives in Eden Prairie, MN with his patient wife, Kelly. Fall 2021 43
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ExplorE MinnEsota tourisM and Mn trails photos
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Garden Island Rec. Area
Minnesota’s bike trails, long distance hiking trails, water trails, state parks, state recreation areas and biomes
Lake of the Woods
Zippel Bay Lake Bronson
Red River of the North
Lake Cass Winnibigoshish Lake Paul Bunyan Migizi Schoolcraft
La Salle Lake Rec. Area
Leech Lake Walker
OHV Rec. Area
Temperance Cascade River River
Chisholm Iron Range
Hill Annex Mine
Grand Portage National Monument
George H. Crosby Manitou Silver Bay
Split Rock Lighthouse
Gitchi Gami Trail Cloquet Two Harbors Heartland 169 Mississippi Park Buffalo River Detroit Superior Hiking Trail North Paul Rapids Lakes Country Lake Superior 2 Bunyan Trail North Duluth Country Jay Cooke Pine Trail Crow Savanna 59 Cuyuna Wing Portage Willard Alex Country Otter Maplewood Laveau Rec. Area Munger Tail Segment Moose 94 Brainerd Wadena Kettle Crosby Lake
Judge C.R. Magney
Bear Head Lake
Lake Vermilion /Soudan Undergound Mine 169
Border Route Trail
Lower Red Lake
Red River Rec. Area
Voyageurs National Park
Big Bog Rec. Area
Upper Red Lake
Glendalough Central Lakes
Glacial Lakes Pomme de Terre
Big Stone Lake 12
Pipestone Casey Jones
Blue Mounds Luverne
Watonwan St. James
St. Croix River
North Branch Sunrise Prairie Hardwood Creek Grand Rounds Hugo Saint Paul
STATE RECREATION AREAS
William O’Brien Marine on St. Croix Brown’s Creek Stillwater Gateway
Hastings Fort 52 Snelling Cannon Red Wing Minnesota Valley 61 Frontenac Valley Cannon Rec. Area
Pipestone National Monument
Split Rock Creek
Lake Rec. Area
Fort Marshall Ridgely Camden Cottonwood
TALLGRASS ASPEN PARKLAND
Minneapolis Luce Line Hutchinson Crow, Dakota LRT South Fork Greenleaf Rail
St. Croix Snake
Charles A. Lindbergh
Father Hennepin Hinckley
169 Sauk Sauk Centre Soo Line Albany Saint Cloud St. Joseph ROCORI 94 Mississippi Paynesville Sibley Crow, Glacial North Fork Lakes
Lac qui Parle
Upper Sioux Agency
Soo Line Little Falls
Mille Lacs Kathio
71 Long Prairie 10
Mille Lacs Lake
New Ulm Mankato
35 Falls Cannon
STATE WATER TRAILS CITIES LONG DISTANCE HIKING TRAILS Not for Navigation Jan. 2021
Mississippi Pioneer 63 Nerstrand Great Zumbro Big Woods River Carley
Faribault Straight Douglas Ridge John A. Latsch Sakatah Singing Hills Whitewater 14 Winona Owatanna Rice Lake Great River Bluffs Rochester Whitewater 52 Root Cedar Root River Myre Blue Blazing 90 Lanesboro Big Island Earth Star Shooting Beaver Creek Valley Preston Star 63 Blue Austin Shell Albert Harmony-Preston Valley Earth Rock Lea Lake Louise Harmony Forestville /
Fall in love with Fall in Preston!
www.gethookedonpreston.com | 507-765-2100
Fall 2021 45
Trail Partners You need a place to eat, stay, play and upgrade your gear? Our Trail Partners are here to help!
BIKE SHOPS CYKEL
324 Curtis Avenue, Ironton www.cykelonline.com
FITZHARRIS BIKE & SPORT
105 7th Avenue S, St. Cloud www.fitzharrismn.com
419 N. Nokomis St., Alexandria www.jakesbikes.com
REVOLUTION CYCLE AND SKI 320-251-2453
160 29th Avenue South, St. Cloud www.revolutioncycleandski.com
TOURIGHT BICYCLE SHOP
124 2nd Street NE, Little Falls www.tourightbicycleshop.com
6489 Cahill Avenue, Inver Grove Heights www.bike-king.com
CARS BIKE SHOP
2661 Co Road I & Old Hwy 10, Mounds View www.carsbikeshop.com
TONKA CYCLE AND SKI
TRAILHEAD CYCLING & FITNESS
TRAILHEAD CYCLING & FITNESS
6825 Hwy. 10 NW, Ramsey www.ramseybicycles.com 16 Shady Oak Road S, Hopkins www.tonkacycleandski.com
LODGING/CAMPING DEERWOOD MOTEL
23688 Forest Road, Deerwood Great rooms at great prices.
23457 Co. Rd. 31, Crosby www.redriderresort.com
BIG RIVER RESORT
1110 Hiawatha Dr. E www.bigriverresort.com
Metro Region Mankato
CENTRAL LAKES TRIKES
Osakis, MN | Trike Rental & Shuttle Service www.centrallakestrikes.com
COLDWELL BANKER CROWN REALTORS 218-546-8346
Hwy. 6 & 210, Crosby www.coldwellbankercrown.com
CUYUNA REGIONAL MEDICAL CENTER 320 East Main Street, Crosby 218-546-7000 www.cuyunamed.org
21236 Archibald Road, Deerwood www.deerwoodbank.com
MID MINNESOTA FEDERAL CREDIT UNION 218-546-5428
117 West Main Street, Crosby www.mmfcu.org
RED RIDER RESORT
22640 MN-6, Crosby www.oarsnmine.com
Minnesota Trails Directory Regions
TIMBER BUILDING SUPPLY 218-678-2063
14506 State Highway 6, Deerwood www.timberbuildingsupply.com
A quick and easy reference for planning your adventure!
CENTRAL LAKES TRAIL ASSOCIATION 320-763-0102
324 Broadway, Alexandria www.centrallakestrail.com
FERGUS FALLS CVB
112 Washington Ave. W, Fergus Falls www.visitfergusfalls.com 2 Main St., Hutchinson www.explorehutchinson.com
14084 Baxter Drive, STE 12, Brainerd www.visitbrainerd.com
SPECIALTY STORES VICTUAL
124 West Main Street, Crosby www.shopvictual.com
11350 Aquila Drive, Suite 505, Champlin www.trailheadcyclingandfitness.com
12901 16th Ave. N, Plymouth www.trailheadcyclingandfitness.com
MUSEUMS SOO LINE DEPOT
101 1st Street NE, Crosby www.cuyunahistory.org
SCAN FOR TRAIL MAP
COUNTRY BED AND BREAKFAST 651-257-4773
5 miles from Taylors Falls www.countrybedandbreakfast.us
GREEN HERON B&B
2810 Meyers Bay Road, Grand Rapids www.greenheronbandb.com
EAT & DRINK
THE DEERSTAND RESTAURANT AND BAR 218-534-9253
24188 Mohs Street, Deerwood www.deerstandrestaurant.com
TRAILSIDE TAVERN & PATIO
212 West Main Street, Crosby www.trailsidetavern.com 46 Fall 2021
is above aver Where every season is above average!
Join us fo enjoyable trail
We’re here to help! lakewobegontrail
Lake Wobegon businesses are open and 100 miles: ready to serve you! Shuttle RAIL TRAILS 100 out, ride back. 1st Saturday in August
Caramel R ll
2nd Saturday in June
Caramel Sleep R ll
Eat & Drink 100 miles: Shuttle RAIL TRAILS 100 out, ride back. BIKE TOUR
2nd Saturday in June America’s Best Value Inn 322 12th St. S, Sauk Centre americasbestvalueinn.com (320) 351-7256
1st Saturday in August Bad Habit Brewing
Come celebrate over 20 years of the Lake Wobegon Trail!
25 College Ave. N, St. Joseph badhabitbeer.com (320) 402-4442
Eat & Drink
Bad Habit Brewing Baymont By Wyndham Barbacoa The Estates Bed 25 College Ave. N, St. 820 Shamrock Lane, Albany and Breakfast 441Joseph Railroad Ave, Albany
Avon Cabin Café
www.badhabitbeer.com www.wyndhamhotels.com/hotel/45394 Authentic Mexican & American 29 E Minnesota St., Saint Joseph (320) 845-2145 estatesbedandbreakfast.com(320) 271-3108 food right off the trail Right off the Lake Wobegon Trail (320) 557-0300 Grab an after-ride pint (320) 403-1590
105 Avon Avon Ave. Ave. S, S, Avon Avon 105 www.avoncabincafe.com avoncabincafe.com (320) 356-7198 356-7198 (320) Home cooking at its finest
Corner Deli and
379 Railroad A cornerstonede arvigmed (320) 84
Shop The Outpost Art in MotionMercantile
The Estates Bed and Breakfast
615 6th St. S, Sauk Centre 1400 4th Street, Holdingofrd theoutpostmercantile.com 29 E Minnesota St., Saint Joseph www.artinmotiononthelakewobegontrail.com Lake Wobegon www.estatesbedandbreakfast.comTrail Gallery (320) 746-0680 (320) 351-7678 (320) 557-0300 Art, music, food, craft beer, ice cream 431 Railroad Ave., Albany email@example.com lakewobegontrailgallery.com (320) 845-4100
Gathering Jordie’sGrounds Trailside Café
Paint your own pottery
Joel Schneider Auto Service
701 Railroad Ave., Albany Auto, cycle, ATV & snowmobile 107 Avon Ave. N, Avon Visit Joetown potspotceramics.com 75 Callaway St E, St service Josephand accessories (320) 845-4856 701 Railroad Ave., Albany (320) 356-2233 www.joetownmn.com www.joelschneiderservice.com (320) 363-7201 (320) 845-4856 Small town warmth. Big city cool. Expert repair with 30 years of experience
105 1st Ave jordiestrails (320) 584
Best pie on the trail
Joel Schneider Auto Service
200 Avenue S, Avon 105Avon 1st Ave., Bowlus gatheringgroundsavon.com www.jordiestrailside.com (320)584-8193 356-1106 (320)
Helping Hands Outreach
Rent a surrey bike in Holdingford! holdingfordhelpinghands.org (320) 746-9960
Fall 2021 47
GEAR UP FOR FALL
Fall is the best time to hit the trails. Make sure you and your bike are ready for any adventure. Need great gear? Looking to upgrade? Searching for places to ride? Visit your authorized Trek retailer today for information, hours, and services!
Adventure Cycle & Ski advcycle.com | Winona
OneTen Cycles onetencycles.com | Mendota Heights
Scheels Mankato scheels.com | Mankato
DL Bike Shop dlbikeshop.com | Detroit Lakes
Outdoor Motion outdoormotionbikes.com | Hutchinson
Scheels Rochester scheels.com | Rochester
Downtown Bicycles downtownbicyclesllc.com | Northfield
Ramsey Bicycle ramseybicycle.com | Ramsey
Scheels Moorhead scheels.com | Moorhead
Gateway Cycle gatewaycycle.com | Oakdale
Revolution Cycle and Ski revolutioncycleandski.com | St. Cloud
Scheels St. Cloud scheels.com | St. Cloud
Jake’s Bikes jakesbikes.com | Alexandria
Rick’s Cycling and Sports Center rickscycling.com | Willmar
Straight River Sports straightriversports.com | Owatonna
Maple Grove Cycling maplegrovecycling.com | Maple Grove
Rydjor Bike Shop rydjor.com | Austin
The Bike Shop thebikeshopmarshall.com | Marshall
Scheels Eden Prairie scheels.com | Eden Prairie
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