Minnesota Trails Fall 2022

Page 1

Fall 2022

Minnesota

HIKING TRAILS & 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 Karen Knoblach Page Layout & Design Graphic Design

Editorial Board Brett Feldman Executive Director Parks & Trails Council of Minnesota

Vol. 27, No. 3 August 2022 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. Continuing the

LODGING EAT / DRINK

DEERSTAND RESTAURANT & BAR 24188 Mohs Street, Deerwood 218-534-9253 www.deerstandrestaurant.com Why limit happy to one hour?

RED RIDER RESORT 23457 Co. Rd. 31, Crosby 218-838-6858 www.redriderresort.com Cabins and camping right off the trail

SERVICES

TRAILSIDE TAVERN & PATIO 212 West Main Street, Crosby 218-546-5465 www.trailsidetavern.com Crosby’s newest trail-friendly restaurant

SPECIALTY STORE

COLDWELL BANKER CROWN REALTORS Hwy. 6 & 210, Crosby 218-546-8346 www.coldwellbankercrown.com Impacting lives through real estate

CUYUNA LAKES CHAMBER PO Box 23, Crosby 218-546-8131 www.cuyunalakes.com

CRMC Cuyuna Regional Medical Center

VICTUAL 124 W Main St., Crosby 218-545-1000 www.shopvictual.com Ice cream, cheese, charcuterie, gourmet, gifts, spirits

NEW WALK-IN CLINIC Inside Super One 22418 HWY 6, Crosby 218-545-5350 M-F 8-6, SAT 9-1

218-546-8131

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

TIMBER BUILDING SUPPLY & ACE HARDWARE 14506 State Highway 6, Deerwood 218-678-2063 www.timberbuildingsupply.com Your local building supplier

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

Cuyuna Lakes Chamber members you! are open & ready to serve you

www.CuyunaLakes.com 2 Fall 2022

Minnesota Trails


FALL 2022

Contents FEATURES

8 Life is Good on the Root Jan Lasar

17 Arrowhead Re-route Takes Shape Matt Davis

18 Marching On: Volksmarching Jan Lasar

20 Proud Moments: Kekekabic Trail Sara J Campbell

23 A Trail Saved, a Forest Reborn: Powwow Trail Lon Otto

24 Quiet Time at Tettegouche Jan Lasar

28 Fall Hiking at Lake Carlos Jan Lasar

32 The Glacial Lakes Trail Comes to Sibley State Park Jan Lasar

35 Challenge Accepted: Hiking at La Salle Lake State Rec Area Jan Lasar

COLUMNS

4 Minnesota Miles Jan Lasar

DEPARTMENTS

5 Parks & Trails Council News Lisa Filter

14 Bike Rides & Tours

Minnesota Events Sept. - Nov.

21 Trails Q & A

Conversations with Trail Users

38 MN Trails Map

Minnesota’s Trails At-A-Glance

39 Trail Partners

Find Trail-Friendly Businesses

DISCOVER

Natural beauty

ABOVE: On the Large Tooth Aspen trail at Lake Carlos State Park. Jan Lasar photo COVER: 14 miles of natural surface trails make Lake Carlos State Park a fall hiking destination. Jan Lasar photo

THANK YOU:

FIND US ON: Minnesota Trails

You’ll need a weekend (or more) to appreciate the beauty that can be found along our variety of hiking trails. Request your Hiking Guide at IronRange.org. Fall 2022 3


Minnesota Miles

Travel Trailer Tales

When Jen and I joined the travel trailer crowd we started keeping a journal. I’m happy we did, because it documents in black and white how quickly I forget things I thought were forever etched into my brain. Not all of our camping experiences were stellar, pleasant or dripping with travel brochure-like happiness, but that’s not why we do it. Thumbing through the pages of the journal, a few entries stand out. Jan Lasar

Trails Editor/Publisher

July 18, 2019 Split Rock Creek State Park

On one of our first excursions, things got a little hairy when a severe thunderstorm swept in during the night. “We ran and took shelter in the bathroom building. There was one other guy in there from the group camp,” my brief note reads. That leaves out the part where we stood there, drenched and dripping when suddenly the door flew open and a bewildered, young man burst in. His camping party had fled their tents and taken off in their cars and, somehow, he slept through the ruckus and was left behind. The three of us waited out the worst and he was able to finally call someone on the phone and everyone reunited. His tent was in a tree, however. Nobody was hurt, but please don’t leave camp without your camping buddy.

November 16, 2019 / Sibley State Park

Some campsites at Sibley stay open late into the season and as long as we have electricity, we’re good. We were the only ones in the campground when there was a knock at the door. According to my scribblings, “At one point Saturday morning Jack Nelson, the park manager, stopped by and asked if he could take a picture of our rig in the campground. He needed a photo for bragging rights for his weekly report.” It was the latest we had ever been camping in a year, but we would soon break that record on December 6, 2020 at Whitewater State Park.

Sept. 6, 2020 / Pine Island, MN

Sometimes you’ll find happiness in the unlikeliest of places. The city of Pine Island offers camping across the street from the trailhead of the Douglas State Trail, on a lot next to the Dollar General. For a modest fee you get electricity, water and a place to drain your tanks. There’s even a couple of giant walnut trees for shade. After our daytime bike excursions, we sat and watched the goings-on at the trail entrance. During our stay we observed a farmer’s market, a taco truck and a piñata party, but nothing captured our attention quite like the store in the parking lot next to us. “The activities at the Dollar General never cease to amaze us,” I wrote.

November 13, 2021 Mille Lacs Kathio State Park Another festive camping experience at a state park. We caught the holiday spirit early and put lights on the only “tree” at our campsite, a buckthorn. “It started snowing and we had a bonfire and Dutch oven pizza while we got snowed on,” I wrote. During the day our decorated, decrepit shrub resembled Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree, but just like in the show, the real magic happened when the sun went down and the lights came on.

We’ve been out six times so far this year and it’s hard to pick a highlight at this point. However, Jen finding a garter snake in her kayak is certainly a contender.

October 31, 2020 Banning State Park

It was a tough time in Minnesota. COVID-19 was on the loose and pretty much the only safe thing to do was to stay away from people. It was an odd time, too. Parks were full, but people were actively avoiding each other. Where you might have struck up a conversation with someone at a scenic overlook and shared in the joy of being outside, you now waited your turn and passed each other at a safe distance, silently. It was to our delight that someone walking by our campsite stopped to tell us she liked our Halloween decorations and the bowl of candy at the end of our driveway. It turned out she was the only other camper from two sites down, with her own display. When the sun went down, our campsites lit up with pumpkins and ghosts glowing festively in the woods and for a moment all of the fear and anger and bone headedness of the pandemic disappeared. The entry reads “Sadly, none of the little bags of Skittles went.”

/ See you at camp!

TREASURES, TRAILS AND TREATS PLUS WAVES OF FUN

CANNON FALLS, MN 4 Fall 2022

CannonFalls.org Minnesota Trails


Presented by

2022 PHOTO CONTEST

²ЅҟӉиɯ̿Ⱦ

MINNESOTA PARKS

Ŀդ иƾȾɯͻ͌ Enter your best photos August 1 - October 1

parksandtrails.org/events/2022-photo-contest/ Minnesota Trails

Fall 2022 5


Presented by

S

Finding Nature in Minnesota Parks

CAVENGER 2022 HUNT

Mammals Flowers Trees Mushrooms Birds

June 1 - Sept 12, 2022

At Minnesota Parks

parksandtrails.org/events/2022hunt

Weekly Drawing for $20 Gift Cards from entries to all participating parks. 6 Fall 2022

Minnesota Trails


Caramel R ll

Where every season is above average!

RIDE

2ND SATURDAY IN JUNE

100 miles: Shuttle out, ride back.

1st Saturday in August

LakeWobegonTrail.com Lake Wobegon businesses are open and ready to serve you!

EAT & DRINK

Avon Cabin Café

105 Avon Ave. S, Avon www.AvonCabinCafe.com (320) 356-7198 Home cooking at its Ɠnest

STAY

Bad Habit Brewing

25 College Ave. N, St. Joseph www.BadHabitBeer.com (320) 271-3108 Grab an after-ride pint

Gathering Grounds

200 Avon Avenue S, Avon www.GatheringGroundsAvon.com (320) 356-1106 Hot and cold coffee drinks, pastries and more

Jordie’s Trailside Café

105 1st Ave., Bowlus wwwJordiesTrailside.com (320) 584-8193 Best pie on the trail

Art in Motion

1400 4th Street, Holdingford www.ArtInMotionOnTheLakeWobegonTrail.com (320) 746-0680 Art, music, food, craft beer, ice cream

SHOP

The Outpost Mercantile 615 6th St. S, Sauk Centre www.TheOutpostMercantile.com (320) 351-7678 Healthy sandwiches, smoothies and goodies.

Minnesota Trails

Sauk Centre

1230 Timberlane Dr., Sauk Centre www.WyndhamHotels.com (320) 352-2800 Stay with us after a day on the trails

The Estates Bed and Breakfast

29 E Minnesota St., Saint Joseph www.EstatesBedAndBreakfast.com (320) 557-0300 info@estatesbedandbreakfast.com

INFO

Minnesota Street Market 27 W Minnesota St., St.Joseph www.MnStreetMarket.com (320) 363-7733 Food, Drink, Art and Conversation

Visit Joetown

75 Callaway St E, St Joseph www.JoetownMn.com (320) 363-7201 Small town warmth. Big city cool.

Fall 2022 7


B Y JAN L ASAR

Life is good ON THE ROOT

All photos Jan Lasar

Text

Fall in love with Fall in Preston!

www.gethookedonpreston.com | 507-765-2100 8 Fall 2022

Minnesota Trails


The e is such a thing as a perfect fall day. The lea es have turned, but the sun is still strong and you packed a light jacket, just in case. Whether you came here to fish, bike, paddle, shop or take in the annual Taste of the Trail celebration, the Root River is your constant companion.

You get to the next town, grab a coffee, find a benc and watch the water fl w by.

Life is good. Minnesota Trails

The Taste of the Trail highlights different Bluff Country communities on three weekends in September.

Fall 2022 9


Photos: Gift shop in Harmony / Railroad trestle bridge near Lanesboro / History on display in Rushford / Amish hand pies as a shore lunch / Rural scene in Rushford / September and October are prime months for fly fishing the Root River.

Rush hour in Harmony, MN

Visit

THE VALLEY Explore Southeast Minnesota's Driftless Area

up to 60 miles on the BIKE paved Root River Trail System HIKE groomed or primitive bluff trails ENJOY PIE, ICE CREAM, PIZZA, LOCAL FOODS & MORE! STAY AT INNS, CAMPGROUNDS OR VACATION RENTALS

www.rushfordpetersonvalley.com 10 Fall 2022

Minnesota Trails


e r o l Exp ony Harm sota

Minne

So m treas any to dis ures cove r!

Come for the bike trail . . .

. . . Stay to explore! • Niagara Cave • Amish Tours • Antique Mall • Gift Shops • Casual & Fine Dining

The three branches of the Root River are a designated State Water Trail, which brings many visitors, who canoe, kayak or float downstream in inner tubes. Fed by numerous trout streams along its 80-mile journey, it's also a top destination for those who come with rods and reels. Minnesota Trails

Join us on Saturday, Sept. 17, for Taste of the Trail! Enjoy the beautiful fall colors in southeastern Minnesota.

Call for a free visitor guide! 1-877-886-2469 www.exploreharmony.com

Fall 2022 11


Photos: The moon rises over Peterson's city campground. / Fall in full swing in the valley near Rushford / The 1885 Peterson Barn in Peterson is constructed from walnut lumber. / Wet feet can be a good thing when you're exploring the river.

The 60-mile Root River and Harmony-Preston Valley State Trail system in the heart of southeastern Minnesota’s Bluff Country is one of the major trail destinations in Minnesota because of its scenic views. The hills and valleys are especially gorgeous when the leaves begin to turn.

BIKE • HIKE • EXPLORE

Sandbank fishing on the main branch of the Root River

12 Fall 2022

15 + m il e s

of paved trails www.luvernechamber.com Minnesota Trails


MAKE MORE POSSIBLE A little extra boost leads to incredible possibilities and a whole lot of fun. On an electric bike, you can ride farther and faster, easily carry everything you need, and explore new places. E-bikes make it simple to ditch the daily traffic jam, get more exercise, and feel great about treading more lightly on the planet. Best of all, no matter your reason to ride, you’ll have a blast along the way. Visit your authorized Trek retailer today!

Adventure Cycle & Ski advcycle.bike | Winona

Outdoor Motion outdoormotionbikes.com | Hutchinson

SCHEELS Eden Prairie scheels.com | Eden Prairie

DL Bike Shop dlbikeshop.com | Detroit Lakes

Ramsey Bicycle ramseybicycle.com | Ramsey

SCHEELS Mankato scheels.com | Mankato

Downtown Bicycles downtownbicyclesllc.com | Northfield

Red Wing Bicycle Co. redwingbikes.com | Red Wing

SCHEELS Moorhead scheels.com | Moorhead

Gateway Cycle gatewaycycle.com | Oakdale

Revolution Cycle and Ski revolutioncycleandski.com | St. Cloud

SCHEELS Rochester scheels.com | Rochester

Jake’s Bikes jakesbikes.com | Alexandria

Rick’s Cycling and Sports Center rickscycling.com | Willmar

SCHEELS St. Cloud scheels.com | St. Cloud

Martin’s Cycling & Fitness martinscyclingandfitness.com | Albert Lea

Rochester Cycling cycling-fitness.com | Rochester

Straight River Sports straightriversports.com | Owatonna

Rydjor Bike Shop rydjor.com | Austin

Minnesota Trails TK22_MN_Retailers_Ebike_Jul_Group_Ad.indd 1

Fall 2022 13 7/11/22 2:09 PM


2022

Bike Rides & Tours CARAMEL APPLE RIDE

TASTE OF THE TRAIL

Trail | Sauk Centre, MN

September 10, 2022

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.

September 17, 2022

September 10, 2022

Trail | Lanesboro, Whalan, Peterson, MN Trail | Fountain, Preston, Harmony, MN

September 24, 2022

Trail | Houston, Rushford Area, MN Three consecutive weekends, each feature a different selection of towns. Get a taste of each community with different activities, food and music. Enjoy what is special about each town while you pedal your way through the beauty of Bluff Country along the Root River.

www.lakewobegontrail.com/lwta-rides

RIDEMN1

Road | Pipestone, MN

September 10-17, 2022

RideMN1 holds an annual bicycle ride across Minnesota to raise awareness and raise funds for cancer research. This year they visit Pipestone, Granite Falls, New London, St. Cloud, Sandstone and Superior, WI. There’s optional pre-ride camping and a dinner the day before.

www.rootrivertrail.org/events/taste-of-the-trail

SAINT PAUL CLASSIC BIKE TOUR

Trail/Road | Saint Paul, MN

September 11, 2022

The Saint Paul Classic is back and tours the Grand Rounds. The ride will be held on bike trails and lanes only, there'll be no road closures at all. Attendance is limited to 1,850. Mileages: 14, 32

www.bikemn.org/all-events/st-paul-classic

North Star Bicycle Race

Road | Saint Paul, MN to US-Canada border

September 14, 2022

www.mntrails.com/event/north-star-bicycle-race

Up-to-Date Information & Details at www.MnTrails.com/events

www.ridemn1.org

MAYOR’S BIKE RIDE

Trail | Spicer, New London & Willmar, MN

September 16, 2022

Mayors from Spicer, New London and Willmar will be leading a ride starting at 5:00 pm in each of their towns to come together for a picnic at Goat Ridge Brewing in New London, MN. All three towns are connected by the Glacial Lakes State Trail.

www.willmarlakesarea.com/event/mayorsbike-ride

DIRT BAG GRAVEL GRINDER

Your stop for

Gravel | Clearwater, MN

September 17, 2022

on the Lake Wobegon Trail

Open May-October | 1400 4th Street, Holdingford | 320-746-0680

www.ArtInMotionOnTheLakeWobegonTrail.com

This central Minnesota fall ride on the backroads around Clearwater honors the memory of the late John Egbers. In the spirit of gravel riding, it’s free and unsupported. Distances: 36, 70, 100 miles.

Visit the ride Facebook page or email javajohncc@gmail.com

A. T.

THE BLACK & WHITE

The Centre The Centre of it all!

where you can experience art, shop, eat, golf, fish, camp, explore & more. STAY STAA THE WEEKEND ST

• Caramel Apple Ride (September 10) • Art on the Ave. (September 17) • Mural Tour or Self-Guided Historic Tour

www.attheblacknwhite.com

Best Dining inalls! Little F

Mark your calendars

Visit our website for information on these events and more.

320-352-5201

visitsaukcentre@gmail.com

visitsaukcentre.org

- Innovative Menu - Craft Beers on Tap - Great Wine Selection - Historic Setting

116 First Street SE Little Falls, MN 56345

320.632.5374

Enjoy 55 miles of beautiful, paved rail-trails across central Minnesota.

14 Fall 2022

Minnesota Trails


2022 Louisville Days Bicycle Ride

Bike Rides & Tours PARK2PARK BICYCLE RIDE

Gravel | Huot, MN

Road | Little Falls, MN

www.mntrails.com/louisville-days-bicycle-ride

RIDE THE RIDGES

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.

September 17, 2022

www.littlefallsmn.com/events/park2parkbicycle-ride

September 17, 2022

Mora Bike Tour Road | Mora, MN

September 17, 2022

www.mntrails.com/event/mora-bike-tour Road | Winona, MN

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. All routes have well-stocked rest stops featuring local delicacies. Rider amenities include a longsleeve t-shirt, meal coupon, showers, and SAG support. Distances: 18, 42, 65, 106 miles

SEPTEMBER 17-18

September 24, 2022

Winston County Gravel Cup

& Loppet Field Day & Surly Brewing Co. Trail Loppet

Gravel | Houston, MN

September 24, 2022

www.mntrails.com/event/winston-countygravel-cup

www.ridetheridges.bike

Headwaters 100

Road | Park Rapids, MN

September 24, 2022

www.mntrails.com/event/headwaters-100

2022RIDEMN1

NORTHFIELD ROTARY BIKE TOUR

Road/Gravel | Northfield, MN

September 24, 2022

Explore the hills and valleys of Dakota and Rice Counties on this popular tour and choose from tar and gravel routes from 10 to 100 miles. Part of the Rivers, Lakes, Fields Tri-Ride Series including Bridge the Valley Bike Rally and the Pedal Prior. Ride all three for extra swag and entry into cash prize drawings.

www.northfieldrotary.org

The Annual Minnesota Crossing for a Good Cause!

SEPTEMBER 10-17, 2022 Pipestone, MN to Superior, WI

LOPPET.ORG/TRAILLOPPET for more information

RIDEMN1.ORG

Adventure Ride

SEPT(ȥBER 24 CHAȪLES A. LINDBERG+ 7O LI7TLE (ȤK PșRȣ

20 MILES Explore the úture route of

the Camp Ripley Veterans State Trail by bike and discover Little Falls!

SCAN TO REGISTER:

RE*IST(Ȫ AT:

LittleFallsMN.com 800-325-5916 VisitLittleFallsMN Minnesota Trails

Fall 2022 15


2022

Bike Rides & Tours

ONE STEP FOR ME

120 miles for you

Fall de Tonka

Gray Duck Grit

September 25, 2022

October 14-15, 2022

Road | Minnetonka, MN

Gravel | Northfield, MN

www.mntrails.com/event/fall-de-tonka

www.mntrails.com/event/gray-duck-grit

Heck of the North

Pie Burner Fat Bike Ride

Gravel | Two Harbors, MN

October 1, 2022

www.mntrails.com/event/heck-of-the-north

The Filthy 50

Road, Trail, Gravel | Hibbing, MN

November 26, 2022

Find the Iron Range Fat Bike Riders group on Facebook.

Gravel | Lanesboro, MN

October 8, 2022

www.mntrails.com/event/filthy-50

Rosewood Gramble

Road/Gravel | Thief River Falls, MN

October 8, 2022

As of deadline, the information in this calendar was accurate. Check www.MnTrails.com/events for additional information.

www.mntrails.com/event/rosewood-gramble

MANKATO RIVER RAMBLE

Road | Mankato, MN

October 9, 2022

This fall classic features great rest stops, ride support, delicious food and beverages, live music and much more. All routes pass through beautiful Sibley Park where the Blue Earth River joins the Minnesota River. Distances:12, 26, 42 miles

www.bikemn.org/all-events/mankato-riverramble IT’S LEGENDARY

MNBIKETRAIL.COM

Up-to-Date Information & Details at www.MnTrails.com/events

Whee-Bikes

easy to rent. easy to ride. Reserve your bike today, meet us at Welch Station on the Cannon Valley Trail to pick it up & “e-joy” your ride!

Serving Welch, MN & surrounding area visitHASTINGSmn.org 16 Fall 2022

www.RollingRiverBikeRental.com Minnesota Trails


Trail MIX

ARROWHEAD

VO LKSM A R CH I NG

KE KE KA BI C

PO W WOW

17

18

20

23

ARROWHEAD RE-ROUTE TAKES SHAPE ON THE NORTH COUNTRY TRAIL

Whether you build,

NCTA volunteers rake away the duff to expose mineral soil which is leveled for the trail tread.

restore or just walk them with friends, Minnesota's hiking trails offer an outdoor

Volunteer Vacation crew member Jamie digs new sidehill trail

experience that's good for

Road and Minnesota Highway 6 near Remer that will replace a 13-mile walk along highways and county roads. The crew was made up of members of the NCTA’s local Arrowhead and Star of the North Chapters and members of the NCTA’s NextGen Coalition from Michigan and Minnesota. An American Hiking Society Volunteer Vacation brought additional help from Iowa, North Dakota, and Minnesota, and even a North Country Trail thru-hiker, who happened to be in the area, pitched in. Our group camped at Schoolcraft State Park and enjoyed the sights and sounds of abundant waterfowl in addition to kayaking and some very early season swimming in the frigid Mississippi River. On our half day “off” we toured the Forest History Center’s trails and did some maintenance on the Prairie River Trail north of Grand Rapids.

the body and the soul.

Early this May volunteers from the North Country Trail Association (NCTA) finished constructing the first new trail segment of the North Country National Scenic Trail’s “Arrowhead Re-route” near Grand Rapids, MN. This significant change of the NCT route in northeastern Minnesota replaces the original, wet route with a new, much longer and swamp-free stretch between Remer and Ely. Advocating for this legislation in Congress took over a decade, but once it passed, NCTA volunteers and staff scouted and flagged the new route and worked with land managers and private landowners to obtain their consent. Finally, the National Parks Service worked on the environmental compliance, completing an Environmental Assessment for the project late last fall. The latter took about 3 years.

NCTA Next Gen crew members on newly finished trail

The crew finished a mile of new trail between Tioga Beach Road and Itasca County Road 17 and experienced three seasons in the span of a week: Snow flurries and spring thaw gave way to hot, windy days without shade. The new NCT segment is part of a larger 18-mile project between Tioga Beach

This section of the NCT passes by the former Tioga Mine lake, the ore shipment facility and tailings pile from that mine, which provides a unique backdrop. The iron mining operations left their mark, but nature has reclaimed the overburden piles which now feature a variety of tree species. The other unique feature is that the NCT traverses the Tioga Recreation Area’s fantastic mountain bike and hiking trail system. The NCTA hopes local residents will enjoy walking on the new NCT yearround and relieve some of the hiking usage on the Tioga trails.

Arrowhead Re-route · North Country Trail Potential Campsites P Gravel Parking

Loon Lake

New segment built in 2022

Tailings Basin

Rice Lake

Leighton Lake

Future new segment to be built in 2023

Tioga Beach

Tioga Pit Tioga Mountain P Bike Trail System

Northwoods Trail Crossing Pokegama Lake

P Connecting Corridor to Existing Segment

By Matt Davis Matt is Regional North Country Trail Coordinator for North Dakota, Minnesota and Wisconsin Minnesota Trails

Matt Davis photos

Ely

New Trail Area Hibbing

Grand Marais

Ilgen City Silver Bay

Little Siseebakwat Lake

Grand Rapids Two Harbors

Lake Superior

Duluth

Fall 2022 17


TRAIL MIX

Events: Volksmarching

MARCHING ON Story & photos by Jan Lasar

Walking stick high fives

The land around the Minnesota Valley State Recreation Area has attracted people for centuries because the waters of the Minnesota River provided food, shelter, transportation and commerce. In the latter half of the 1800s, ambitious plans for a prosperous village near Belle Plaine, served by steamboats, fizzled when the railroad edged out the river as the connection to the world. The iron rails passed by the fledgling town of St. Lawrence and the boats stopped coming. Today, people visit to see the only remaining building of this settlement, the Strait House, and hike the extensive trail system to connect to history and nature. On a cool and foggy morning in October, the stone trail center building buzzed with activity. Several dozen people, some sporting colorful patches on their coats, lined up to register for a walk. Donna Seline was busy zipping from person to person for a lastminute check on the details, trying to get the crowd’s attention, while Peter Cartwright unloaded supplies from the back of his vehicle. “My van is the official carrier of all the bits and pieces,” he said. A colorful banner announced that this was an event organized by the NorthStar Trail Travelers (NSTT), one of three Minnesota chapters of the American Volkssport Association (AVA). Volksmarching is an anglicized version of the German word Volksmarsch and roughly translates into people’s hike. This movement started in Germany in the late 1960s as a non-competitive program for exercising and socializing. Military personnel returning home from Europe brought Volksmarching to the US and the first official such event happened in Fredericksburg, TX in 1976. 18 Fall 2022

“It’s a very welcoming club and we love to walk together.” Donna Seline’s involvement with this sport goes back half a century. She caught the bug when working for the US Army as a civilian in Germany, in charge of organizing recreational outings for GIs. Back stateside in 1988, she helped the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) set up a Volksmarching program in state parks, and it was a success. “We used to draw two or three hundred people on any given weekend,” she said. After nine years, the program was discontinued because of dwindling attendance. A year later, the NSTT group was born and remains the only Volksmarching club with the mission to walk in Minnesota’s state parks. Between 1988 and today, 341 organized hikes in Minnesota state parks have attracted almost 29,000 people.

Wayne Heath, one of the event coordinators, led the Scooters that morning. After a chance encounter with the NSTT at Jay Cooke State Park five years ago, he decided to join and take on a more active role. As an Event Coordinator he’s responsible for scouting routes, usually a year or more in advance. Once a route is chosen, it’s verified with a measuring wheel, a kind of cane with a mileage counter attached. The Event Coordinator then contacts the park manager and figures out the details like parking, camping and picnic areas. It can be a lot of work but the rewards are plenty.” We’ve made some good friends here,” he said.

A typical NSTT event has route options of 5km (3.1 miles) or 10km (6.2 miles) and walkers complete one, two or more loops at their own pace on marked trails. The October annual meeting, however, had a guided group walk to keep everyone on schedule.

While the walks are always open to anyone regardless of membership status, she said, NSTT is set up as a working organization. “When you join the club, we expect you to devote some volunteer time,” she said. Another way to keep people engaged is to break up a 10km walk into two 5km walks. That, she said, helps with the socializing, which she feels is just as important as the exercise part.

After a quick introduction the crowd split up into groups, according to their walking speeds. The slower Shufflers went first, followed by the Scooters. Finally, the Batsouttahell left, too, and the walk was underway.

To Seline, people like Wayne Heath are key to keeping the NSTT going strong into its 24th year.

Valerie Stachour proudly showed off her walking stick adorned with colorful medallions, souvenirs from walking Minnesota Trails


events. She started Volksmarching in 1990 when she was living in Germany and now covers about 350km a year, or 200 miles. Among the three Minnesota Volksmarching clubs, there are lots of events to choose from. “We try to get out most weekends,” she said. Besides the camaraderie and exercise, she likes NSTT’s focus on Minnesota state parks, which combines the best of both worlds for her. “I think we’re really lucky that we have such an amazing state park system here,” she said. Volksmarching is not a competition and that’s a draw. “We’re not here to figure out who’s going to get done first, we’re all just here to have a good time and be social and get some activity in at the same time,” she said. She realizes it doesn’t take a club to go hiking in a state park, but an organized event comes with piece of mind. “You know that people have been out there scouting the trails ahead of you.” Knowing that, she said, gives her the flexibility to stay within her comfort zone or challenge herself in a safe way. On the first 5km loop, Heath’s lively group walked through the misty forest along the Minnesota River. Spirits were high on this mild morning and the sun began to break through the fog. Most of the leaves were off the trees and crunched underfoot as the crowd trekked along. In the open, marshy areas, grasses were yellowed and exhausted from a long Minnesota Trails

summer, and bent over, heavy with dew. Walkers soaked it all in and chatted excitedly in small groups. Occasionally, Heath stopped to gather his troops to point out a natural feature along the way. Back at the trail center, there was a short break and they were off for the second loop. The fog had burned off by now, it was getting warm for a late October day and some ditched the jackets and rolled up their sleeves. This trip again followed the river, but then crossed a wideopen prairie area. Some had brought binoculars and stopped to take a look at an eagle’s nest in a huge tree along the edge of the prairie. After a brief rest at the restored, historic Strait House, they followed the same path back. Once the hike was over, hungry walkers grazed the plentiful potluck offerings and milled around the picnic grounds. The annual meeting was a brief one and after the door prize drawing the crowd began to thin out. Eventually, everything went back into Cartwright’s van, to be deployed at the next Volksmarch. It takes commitment to keep an organization going year after year, but his love of the sport keeps him coming back. “It’s a very welcoming club and we love to walk together,” he said.

FOR MORE INFO VISIT WWW.NSTT.ORG Fall 2022 19


TRAIL MIX

Volunteerism: Kekekabic Trail

PROUD MOMENTS,

VOLUNTEERS KEEP TRAILS OPEN FOR EVERYONE I’ve been addicted to trail clearing for several years now. Maybe it’s connecting with nature, or the people with whom I’ve worked. Maybe it’s the fresh air or the stunning, yet simple beauty of the pristine landscape. I cannot pick just one reason because each one alone is enough to keep me going back to the millionacre wilderness that is the Boundary Waters Canoe Area (BWCA). Year after year I leave behind the comforts of home to help keep the Kekekabic Trail open.

of the KTC do much of the work, but they need volunteers to make a daunting task achievable. During recent Kek clearing trips, some notoriously damp areas seemed wetter, even permanently flooded and affected paths have been rerouted onto higher ground. Be it climate change or just a season or two with more rain than usual, weather and climate will always be a factor, but dedicated maintenance is what keeps trails open for all to enjoy.

The Kek, as it is affectionately called, is a challenging 41-mile footpath through the heart of the BWCA. Because it’s a part of the 4,600-mile North Country National Scenic Trail (NCT), the longest continuous hiking trail in the United States, maintenance of the Kek is coordinated through the Kekekabic Trail Chapter (KTC) of the North Country Trail Association (NCTA) and the National Forest Service (NFS).

Camping and working in the wilderness means carrying everything on your back, from food and bedding to loppers and pruners. You need to be alert and prepared for wildlife encounters, inclement weather, cuts, scrapes, stings, and burns, and anything else for which there’s no nearby Walgreens or basement for protection. Cell service is sketchy at best in the BWCA and you have to be prepared for emergencies. That’s why going with people experienced in remote hiking, camping, and trail clearing is essential, and only highly experienced leaders can guide volunteer groups.

Trail clearing requires the use of lightweight, good quality pruning tools such as loppers and silky saws, small handsaws with aggressive teeth. Tackling large, fallen trees requires a bit more human—or machine-power, but within the BWCA power tools are not allowed. When a large tree falls across a trail, there are a few non-powered options to consider. One alternative is to cut the tree with handsaws. Two-person saws, called crosscut saws, are still in use in the BWCA. Another way is to find a spot where hikers can climb over or shimmy under the fallen tree. The trail can also just be re-routed around the obstacle, not an easy task in areas of storm-driven blow down. During the July 4, 1999 BWCACanadian derecho, almost half a million acres of old growth trees were flattened by 90-mph straight-line winds. Clearing and re-routing trails in this area has taken years. Keeping the Kek open can be challenging because of its remoteness. Mother Nature does her job well, which means existing trails, especially ones like the Kek need persistent care to keep them open, because they don’t receive the foot traffic needed to keep emerging vegetation down. The NFS and members

exercise is fun. Nature is pristine. After dinner, our groups always gather for stretching exercises and lying on the ground, looking up at the dark, star-filled sky is spectacular. The thrill of adventure, teamwork, satisfaction, challenges, and camaraderie of volunteer trail clearing in the BWCA cannot be overstated. It’s a great way to see new trails, visit and learn about protected wilderness areas, acquire camping, hiking, canoeing and portaging skills you never had, or just have a great outdoor experience. I’ve hiked the Kek end-to-end twice now and easily navigating areas of that trail that I helped clear or re-route were proud moments. By Sara J Campbell Sara is from St. Louis, MO but has lived in MN since graduating college in Northfield. Growing up, her parents deeply believed in the benefit of fresh air, sending Sara and her siblings outside to play from sun-up to sun-down, no matter the weather. From this she learned to love the outdoors, and has never looked back. Matt Davis photo

In spite of these challenges, trail clearing in the BWCA is extremely rewarding. The fresh air is intoxicating. The

Julie Campbell photo

VOLUNTEER:

www.northcountrytrail.org/volunteer/ways-to-volunteer

20 Fall 2022

Sara Campbell photo

Minnesota Trails


& Q Trails A

2022

Trails Q & A Snapshots of people we meet along the trail

Donna Seline

Gideon Ngobi

Occupation: Graphic Designer for two small publications and board member emeritus of the NSTT. Gear: Hiking cane decorated with souvenir plaques and New Balance hiking shoes. Seen: Route scouting for the NorthStar Trail Travelers (NSTT). Miles hiked per year: About 60. What does being outdoors mean to you? When I get out in the trees it’s kind of a sanctuary. My body loves getting out of the city and walking on soft terrain. Favorite Minnesota park? George H. Crosby Manitou, because it’s so rustic and it’s just a joy to walk around. Best Minnesota Experience? Helping start hiking club chapters in Minnesota. Worst Minnesota Experience? Having to seek shelter during a tornado while hiking in southern Minnesota. Advice for the novice: Start out slow and join a club. On your Minnesota bucket list? I really want to take a hot air balloon ride. What would you do with $1,000? Go to Europe to do a Volksmarch over there. Trail Treat: Nothing in particular, but I always have to have water.

Occupation: Financial planner with Thrivent Financial.

Minneapolis, MN

Roseville, MN

Seen: Hiking with the North Star Trail Travelers at Minnesota Valley State Recreation Area. How many miles a year do you hike? About 100. What does being outdoors mean to you? It connects me to nature and a walk in the woods is refreshing. Favorite Minnesota park? I’m new to this so I can’t say I have been to many. Best Minnesota experience? Camping in the Duluth area, I woke up and my water was frozen, but I made it through the night. Worst Minnesota experience? The fear of snakes. I know they aren’t venomous here, but because of my background I have a natural fear of them. Advice to the novice: Get good shoes and start small. On your Minnesota bucket list? Visit Lake Vermilion Soudan Underground Mine State Park. What would you with $1,000? I would donate it to a state park trail. Trail Treat: An energy bar.

Laura Greene Spicer, MN

Megan Pederson Eau Claire, WI

Occupation: Legal Administrative Assistant.

Occupation: Supervisor at Starbucks Gear: Camping hammock. Gear: New Balance walking shoes. Seen: Backpack camping for the first time at Lake Maria State Park. Seen: Hiking the new section of the What is your first impression of Glacial Lakes State Trail at Sibley backpacking? It was a little harder State Park with her sister Nancy. than I thought, but it was still very relaxing. I loved just lying in my hammock and listening to the How many miles do you walk a year? We just started walking again rustling leaves and birds all around. Favorite Minnesota State Park? and last month we did 50 miles. Lake Maria State Park for sure after this. What does being outdoors mean Minnesota bucket list: I want to to you? It feels good, gives you go to Blue Mounds State Park. It’s more energy and it’s relaxing. something different than most parks I’ve been to, especially Favorite Minnesota park? Lake compared to the North Shore. Maria State Park. My husband and Trail Treat: Probably trail mix. You I used to hike there, with hardly get a little protein, a little sweet, a anybody there. little savory. Best Minnesota outdoor Best Minnesota experience? experience? Backpacking in Backcountry camping at Hogback Lake in the Superior National Forest. general, or biking the Dakota Rail Regional Trail from Wayzata past Gale Woods Farm. That was Advice for the novice: Get a good beautiful. pair of shoes and have something Advice for the novice: Pack only to eat before you go. what you need and maybe get a wagon. But always bring your What would you do with $1,000? essentials, you still have to camp Buy a bicycle. in style. What would you do with $1,000? Trail Treat: A Dairy Queen ice cream I’d put it towards a trip to Peru. I cone. really want to hike Machu Picchu!

VISITBRAINERD Choose C hoo ose Your Your Adventure. Adventture.

Minnesota Trails

VisitBrainerd.com Fall 2022 21


You, your bike and a day of adventure.

Find a trail near you at mnDNR.gov/parksandtrails

22 Fall 2022

Minnesota Trails


TRAIL MIX

Restoration: Powwow Trail

By Lon Otto

Located north of Isabella, Minnesota, in SEPTEMBER 2013: New growth the heart of the Boundary Waters Canoe after a forest fire sometimes makes trails impassable. Area Wilderness, the 25-mile Powwow Trail is a treasure almost lost following the devastating Pagami Creek fire of 2011. Instead, in collaboration with the Forest Service, volunteers from the Boundary Waters Advisory Committee (BWAC) began the enormous project of recovering the trail. That meant finding it, first of all, and then using hand tools to saw JUNE 2018: Deadfall and and lop a path through nearlyemerging impenetrable obstacles left in growth make the fire’s aftermath—dead trees finding the in tangled masses sometimes a original trail quarter mile long, and sundifficult. loving trees and brush that quickly overwhelmed the tread.

To walk the Powwow Trail today is to experience a miracle of the natural world: the northern forest’s regeneration after fire, a process it has been practicing since the glaciers receded. Volunteers who worked on the trail from the beginning of the recovery effort are particularly conscious of the metamorphosis. Martin Kubik, founder of BWAC, circumnavigated the Powwow the year after the fire. “Most of the ground was bare,” he recalls, “with sedge grasses, bindweed, and fireweed representing about 30% of the ground cover. As the years pass, vistas that had been opened by the fire are now closing again. “On the north loop, six years ago,” he recalls, “the jack pines were only three to five feet tall, and we could see Pose Lake from the heights of the trail at many spots, along with boulder and rock formations in between. Now this view is disappearing.” John Mattson, another long time BWAC volunteer, recalls opening his car door in the trailhead parking lot in fall 2013 and being “met with the strong, pungent smell of burned wood,” and everything he touched coming away ‘dirty with soot’. The smell and the soot are all gone now.” Like Kubik, he recalls the bindweed everywhere, grabbing at his boots, and places like the junction where Minnesota Trails

Lon has been a trail maintenance volunteer with BWAC since spring of 2018. He is the author of three collections of short stories and a novel, published this spring: The Flower Trade (Brighthorse Books). He lives in St. Paul, Minnesota, is Professor Emeritus at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, and has taught for many years in the University of Iowa Summer Writing Festival.

Martin Kubik photo

the trail splits into a loop, heading north and west, that were wide open for several years after the fire and are now thick with jack pines MAY 2022: Standing, dead trees that the trail corridor cuts rise above fresh, new Jackpines through. BWAC clearing at Rock of Ages Lake. crews from 2017 and 2018 Verena Walther photo recall taking group photos in front of a drumming of ruffed grouse all along looming rock formation just a few yards the Powwow Trail, long a destination off the trail between Fallen Arch Lake for fall hunters using historic logging and Flapper Creek that today is almost roads to access their habitat. White completely obscured by vegetation. throated sparrows sing thrillingly. Vast sweeps of jack pine, evolved to In May of 2022, hikers camped release seeds from tightly knotted cones at Mirror Lake were kept awake when exposed to fire, were the first postin the middle of the night by the fire woody seedlings to emerge after the obsessively repetitive calls of a whip2011 fire. Other conifers came later: poor-will. Christmas-tree-perfect black spruce; All Boundary Waters hiking trails wispy tamaracks sprouting from damp are dynamic. The Powwow’s terrain peat; fresh-faced cedar colonies beneath varies from the rolling, relatively their twisted grandparents; and longneedled red and white pines, descendants level and straight south and east sides, where it follows old logging of giants that drew the loggers. Ferns, roads, to the more rocky, rugged, large-leaved aster, creeping dogwood, elevation-varied west and north pearly everlasting thickly obscure the sides, often skirting lakeshore. tread after the explosive growth of a wet Trails also change season by season spring. Broad-leaved thimbleweed grows and year by year. A spell of dry shoulder-high by fall in the trail west of or wet weather can make a huge Pose Lake. The poplar, birch, alder and difference in hikers’ experience. willow that beavers depend on grow in Rain, snow, or wind transform large stands in many areas, their healthy conditions overnight. What is growth suckering over the trail but tall distinctive about the Powwow Trail enough now to cast welcome shade. is the enormous, complex changes The ubiquitous beavers are joined by involved in recovery from a forest other animal life returning to the forests fire. With a few isolated “green and lakes and bogs. Moose and wolf scat zones”—unburned areas—standing is common. Lynx have been spotted, and as promises of what is to come, the snowshoe hares. Chipmunks and little burned wilderness of the Powwow red boreal squirrels now lurk at Powwow Trail moves steadily closer to Trail campsites. Hikers see and hear the becoming once more a mature forest.

LEARN MORE: WWW.BOUNDARYWATERSTRAILS.ORG

The work continues: a good storm still brings down barriers to be limbed and sawn and hauled aside, and brush comes up relentlessly. However, the trail is once more well defined, and circumnavigating it is now challenging but manageable for experienced, well-prepared hikers. Eight campsites are open. The tread is gradually being reestablished, footstep by footstep.

Martin Kubik photo

A TRAIL SAVED, A FOREST REBORN

Fall 2022 23


Range throughout Minnesota’s state parks and recreation

Quiet tıme B Y JAN L ASAR

Park RANGER

AT TETTEGOUCHE STATE PARK

areas for a journey rewarded with natural beauty and adventure.

FEATURED PARKS

24 Fall 2022

T ET T EGO U CH E

LA KE CA R LO S

SI BLE Y

24 - 2 7

28 - 30

32 - 34

Minnesota Trails


Photos Jan Lasar

It’s no surprise that nearly half a million people visit Tettegouche State Park each year. The deep gorge carved by the Baptism River with its steep cliffs, dark forests and roaring falls casts a spell that’s hard to resist. But when the fall season draws to a close and the shady valleys begin to freeze, the crowds retreat and it’s quiet time on Minnesota’s North Shore.

LA SAL L E L AK E RE C A R E A 35 - 37

Minnesota Trails

Clockwise from left: Scenic overlook near High Falls / The mouth of the Baptism River at Lake Superior / Near the end of the Shovel Point Trail / Fractured, twisted, folded: exposed volcanic rock along the banks of the Baptism River

Honeymoon Bluff

READY. SET.

WANDER.

Explore hundreds of miles of vibrant hiking trails. Download maps at VisitCookCounty.com/Hiking Fall 2022 25


PARK RANGER

Tettegouche State Park

Right: Swinging bridge over High Falls. Editor's note: The bridge was damaged in a flood in May of 2022 and is currently closed. / Clockwise from top: Paved trail near the Visitor Center / Cascade Falls is at the end of a one-way hike on the west side of the Baptism River / The Shovel Point Trail follows the shore of Lake Superior / Getting to the river means climbing stairs at Tettegouche State Park

Since 1991 the Parks & Trails Council of Minnesota has saved 300 acres of land, to be added to Tettegouche State Park. Find out more: www.parksandtrails.org/portfolio/tettegouche

Above: Illgen Falls cabin sleeps six and has modern amenities. / Right: Illgen Falls

visitgrandrapids.com | mesabitrail.com | ironrange.org

Hike 850 Minnesota Miles

145 miles of

PAVED TRAIL Maggie Ferguson Photo

NORTHCOUNTRYTRAIL.ORG NORTHCOUNTRYTRAIL ORG / EVENTS NORTHCOUNTRYTRAIL.ORG / MINNESOTA 26 Fall 2022

Minnesota Trails


Let’s Get Wild! Explore three of Minnesota’s most scenic and diverse trail systems, from along Lake Superior’s North Shore to miles of paths carved through the rugged wilderness. Visit our website for trail maps and more info!

Split Rock Wilds Beaver Bay, MN Minnesota Trails

Demonstration Forest Two Harbors, MN

Gitchi-Gami State Trail Two Harbors to Silver Bay Fall 2022 27


PARK RANGER

Lake Carlos State Park

Fall Hiking Lake Carlos AT

STATE PARK

Story & photos by Jan Lasar

1,200-acre Lake Carlos State Park is popular destination just ten miles north of Alexandria on the Glacial Ridge Trail Scenic Byway. With more than 14 miles of hiking trails, you can explore stands of hardwood trees one minute, then cross a grassy meadow to a woodland pond or marsh the next. This combination of grassland, wetland, and wooded ridge makes the park a treat for hikers. During a camping trip last fall the weather was just about perfect: Temperatures in the 30s overnight and in the 50s during the day, with plenty of sunshine meant crisp, foggy mornings and balmy, bug-free afternoons. Saturday morning started out foggy and frosty as expected, but we left our cocoon and hit the trails with gusto. For all the times we’d been to Lake Carlos State Park, we never made it to the very southeastern tip of the park, where the Long Prairie River State Water Trail exits Lake Carlos. We started out on the Prairie Restoration Trail near the park entrance and ten minutes into our walk we were at our first sto , the scenic overlook and observation platform at Schumacher’s Slough. Normally it’s a hot spot for bird watching, but not that morning. It was a quiet day on the trail for both animals and people and we were happy to just walk in the sun. When we started, the frost was beginning to melt off the lea es and grasses exposed to the sun. Shaded areas were still solidly crusted with tiny spikes of ice, but as we continued on, things began to dry out and warm up.

back up in the spring, but it made for a beautiful color combination with the yellow leaves of the aspen trees. And, yes, compared to the regular aspen, the leaves of the Large Tooth Aspen have rather large teeth along their edges. They ere on full display, raining from the rustling branches and littering the path ahead with golden highlights. The e was a slight change of scenery on the Long Prairie River Trail. The t ees disappeared and the path ahead wound across more grassy knolls. Here, we could see houses poking their roofs over the tree line, another reminder that if it wasn’t for parks preserving land for us all to enjoy, only a few would have access to beautiful places. The trail ended ab uptly at a road but because of Jen’s superior navigation skills and the Avenza map of the park, we found we had to walk a few hundred yards down the street to get to the headwaters of the Long Prairie River.

Below: New canoe access at the headwaters of the Long Prairie River

The rairie Restoration, Wetland Overlook and Large Tooth Aspen Trails form a series of interconnected loops along the northeastern edge of the park that run into the Long Prairie River Trail. We decided to walk the outside edges of the loops on the way down and the insides on the return trip. When the Large Tooth Aspen Trail merged with the Long Prairie River Trail, we stepped out of the woods briefly and walked th ough an open section with grassy hills. The grass was brown and waiting to wake 28 Fall 2022

Minnesota Trails


The ri er exits Lake Carlos, fl ws east and then north and fl ws into the Crow River in Motley, 95 miles later. The headwaters picnic area had just been refurbished with a new parking lot and signs, and a new canoe launch had been added just a few weeks ago. We sat and watched the water spill over the natural rock dam and had a snack. It was a little chilly in the shade and if it had been a little warmer, we could have had a takeyour-shoes-off-and-walk-ac oss-the-river experience, similar to Itasca State Park. Back at camp, the plan was to eat lunch and hike some more, but the weather was too lovely to not at least try to catch some fish. We bundled up and assumed position on one of the fishing docks near the campground. Nothing happened for a while and instead of our bobbers, we watched a group of coots diving and coming up with wriggling minnows in their beaks. The wind died d wn, the afternoon sun was strong and my eyelids got heavier with every splash of the waves on the beach. I had just nodded off when Jen elbowed me. “Your bobber is going down!” It was a large sunfish and f om then on, the fishing was good and the e was no need for sleep. We reeled in bass and perch, but stopped a walleye and northern short of the Lake Carlos variety pack. A bonfi e topped off this grand da , and we stared into the flames until our eyelids were too heavy once again.

Classic camper spotted in the lower campground Minnesota Trails

Fall 2022 29


PARK RANGER

Lake Carlos State Park

Right: The overlook at Schumacher's Slough / Below: Hidden Lake Group Center

Explore stands of hardwood trees one minute, then cross a grassy meadow to a woodland pond or marsh the next. The Central Lakes Trail Starts Here BikeFergusFalls.com

Sunday’s weather wasn’t quite as nice. It was overcast, breezy and a bit chillier. Getting out for a hike took some willpower, but we always get motivated by thinking about how balmy it is compared to some of the winter walks we’ve done. The estern portion of the park was more familiar territory. The aple Basswood, Red Oak, Prairie Pothole and Forestry Trails loop through this area and give you a variety of experiences with dense woods, rolling hills, open prairie, bogs and tiny ponds with the occasional boulder sprinkled in. When we returned, a lot of campers had left and we began our departure procedure, too. We’re already making plans for next summer and exploring the Long Prairie River.

30 Fall 2022

Minnesota Trails


Adventures • Fall Colors • Family Fun Lakes/Trails • Great Food/Drink • Shopping

Whether you like the isolation in the middle of nature, the fun of downtown shopping or a family weekend exploring the best fall can provide, Alexandria has options to build lasting memories.

ExploreAlex.com Minnesota Trails

Fall 2022 31


PARK RANGER

Sibley State Park

THE

Glacial Lakes Trail Sibley State Park

COMES TO

Story & photos by Jan Lasar

SIBLEY STATE PARK’S 2,500 ACRES PUT IT SOLIDLY IN THE TOP ONE-THIRD OF MINNESOTA’S STATE PARKS AS FAR AS SIZE GOES, BUT IT ALSO CLAIMS A SEAT IN THE TOP TEN WITH 200,000 ANNUAL VISITORS. IT CAN BE A BUSY PLACE, BUT THINGS CALM DOWN WHEN THE LEAVES ARE OFF THE TREES. IT TURNS OUT A MILD WEEKEND IN NOVEMBER WAS THE PERFECT TIME FOR A VISIT.

Above: En route to Mount Tom / Right: The new amphitheater next to to the interpretive center

Jen and I arrived about mid-day on a Friday with great plans of hiking and exploring a new section of the paved Glacial Lakes Trail inside the park. It was a great plan, but after setting up camp we decided to enjoy the mild weather and wonderful sunshine, sit in our camp chairs and watch a few more travel trailers pull into Oakridge Campground until it was time for a bonfire and a quiet night. 32 Fall 2022

There were no excuses on Saturday morning as Jen’s parents, Theresa and Mike, arrived early to join us for a day of hiking. The plan was to take a look at the new amphitheater in the park, search for the place where the new bike trail passes under Highway 71 and then spontaneously pick another route using our Avenza map app. Shortly after getting on the trail there was a split and like so many times in life, we

took the wrong turn. This trail wasn’t on any maps, so we were relying on our sense of direction, which turned out to be a hilarious choice. Instead of veering southeast we went northwest and walked through the Lakeview Campground, ending up at the boat landing on Andrew Lake. From there, an old section of paved trail took us out to a road near the canoe portage between Andrew and Henschien Lake. Minnesota Trails


For all the times I had visited Sibley State Park, this older, paved trail had somehow remained hidden to me. We continued to the scenic overlook near the horse camp and took a break. Temperatures had crept up to 60 degrees and the jackets were coming off. From the top of our little hill we had a great view of the rest of the park’s other rolling hills. Besides a few dots of burnt orange and rusty browns the forest’s fall colors were gone and our path to Mount Tom was a green ribbon through tan grass and was swallowed by the woods in the distance. On top of the next rise, the roof of the Mount Tom observation tower stuck out over the treetops and we began working our way toward it. This leg of our hike was a wide, mowed path through the woods for people on foot and on horses. After a short walk down a gravel road, we reached the Hiking Club Trail. Near Mount Tom it’s a steep and rocky climb that packs a punch, but, fortunately, isn’t very long. At the Little Mount Tom overlook, the little brother of the more popular Mount Tom overlook, we stretched the

legs and took a selfie, then set out for the real deal. At the parking lot I turned toward the observation tower to read the interpretive sign at the bottom. I was just about to start hiking up that last hill when I turned around and noticed the crew was gone. The sound of footsteps through leaves came from the woods and a voice announced: “We’re not going that way.” It was mutiny. Outvoted three to one I had no choice but to comply. Right after Mount Tom the Hiking Club Trail runs on a very distinct, flat ridge before it tucks back into the woods. This last leg back toward the campground was again very hilly, but not impossible to hike. By this time of the day the temperatures were nearing the mid-sixties and it felt more like late April than early November. We even met a fellow hiker who had taken off his shirt to cool down. By contrast, there were six to nine inches of snow on the ground at the same time the year prior. Back at camp we had dinner and enjoyed the rest of the sunny day.

BIKE, HIKE & KAYAK

explore. more.

The new Glacial Lakes State Trail section inside Sibley State Park Minnesota Trails

WillmarLakesArea.com | 320-235-3552 Fall 2022 33


PARK RANGER

Sibley State Park

Since 1993 the Parks & Trails Council of Minnesota has saved 189 acres of land, to be added to Sibley State Park. Find out more: www.parksandtrails.org/portfolio/sibley-state-park The next day we wanted to find out exactly where that brand new paved bike trail goes. It was so brand new that the construction marker stakes were still in the ground and newly seeded grass was just beginning to sprout along the edges of the trail. We walked southeast from the interpretive center toward the park road, through woods, then prairie and back into the woods. A natural ridge looked like it had been put there just to provide a flat surface for the trail to cross through a wetland, and it was lined with mature oaks that had been there many years. Eventually, we crossed the park road and ended up in the open prairie. The trees disappeared, the view opened up and we could see two people off in the distance, over the next hill.

VISITMARSHALLMN.COM 507-537-1865 MARSHALL, MN

The two women who lived nearby, were excited to have a new trail in their backyard. Since the construction crews moved out, they said, this new section of the Glacial Lakes State Trail has seen a lot of use.

Lakes State Trail, which is currently being worked on. To understand why this short piece inside the park is a big deal, a look back in time reveals that this is one tiny step in the fulfillment of the original plan for the Glacial Lakes State Trail. It was authorized in 1971 to originate at Kandiyohi County Park on the north end of Green Lake, travel to Sibley State Park, on to Glacial Lakes State Park and end at Lake Carlos State Park. The master plan was amended in 1993 to make the trail originate in Willmar and head northeast to Richmond through New London and Paynesville, with a possible connection to Saint Cloud thrown in. The extension north to Glacial Lakes and Lake Carlos State Parks was left in. A master plan for the extension into Sibley State Park was done in 2012, and fifty years after its conception, the Glacial Lakes State Trail is inching closer to completion.

At the intersection of Highway 71 and County Road 40, the trail reached the park boundary. A tunnel took us under the road and that was as far at it’s been built. From here, it’s just about three and a quarter-miles into New London and the connection to the Glacial Below: The Glacial Lakes State Trail enters the park at the southeast corner and winds through rolling prairie hills. / Right: At the equestrian campground

34 Fall 2022

Minnesota Trails


PARK RANGER

La Salle Lake State Recreation Area

Challenge accepted.

HIKING AT

LA SALLE LAKE STATE REC AREA Story & photos by Jan Lasar

YOU CAN FIND LAKE LA SALLE STATE RECREATION AREA (LSLSRA) FIVE MILES NORTH OF ITASCA STATE PARK AND ABOUT TWENTY MILES SOUTHWEST OF LAKE BEMIDJI STATE PARK. PART OF THE SRA IS THE SCIENTIFIC AND NATURAL AREA (SNA) BY THE SAME NAME JUST TO THE NORTH, WHICH ALLOWS YOU TO SEE THE FLEDGLING MISSISSIPPI FROM A SCENIC OVERLOOK. BOTH ARE MANAGED BY THE MINNESOTA DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES (MNDNR).

The star of the show is La Salle Lake, which is Minnesota’s deepest in-state body of water at over 200 feet. The 11-mile hiking trail system is a close second. The 39-site campground has full hookups and there’s a shower house with individual shower rooms and a laundry room. If camping isn’t for you, LSLSRA has two well-equipped guesthouses for rent. We woke up Saturday morning to rain drumming on the roof. Feeling adventurous, we left for the Challenge Trail when the rain let up. According to our research, this path around boomerang-shaped La Salle Lake promised to be steep, rugged and remote and included two wet, bridge-less water crossings. Challenge Accepted. The trail starts right by the campground bathroom building and we began working our way around the lake—but not without using the boot scrubbing station to keep invasive plant seeds in check. The trail was very narrow and intimate and it Minnesota Trails

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PARK RANGER

La Salle Lake State Recreation Area

really did feel off the beaten path. The campground noises soon disappeared and we started getting deeper into the woods. What had been a light sprinkle turned into an actual rain after a while, but we were sheltered from the worst of it by a dense canopy of trees. As we walked along a high ridge, we caught glimpses of the lake. The MNDNR website describes the habitat at LSLSRA as having “high and outstanding biodiversity significance.” To us it meant a constantly changing landscape. One minute the trail was lined with maples and other deciduous trees, reminiscent of Maplewood State Park. Then it changed to a nearly impenetrable palisade of young aspen, followed by stands of huge pines reminiscent of nearby Itasca State Park. Some shady ravines had lush mounds of waist-high ferns, moss-covered rocks and logs full of fungi. In the open areas, the sun had burned vegetation to a crisp. This kaleidoscope of minilandscapes kept randomly changing throughout our hike. At about the three-mile mark, we took a spur trail down to the lake. Slippery rocks made the steep descent

a challenge and the trail was beginning to live up to its name. Back on top of the ridge, the trail continued through aspen stands, we lost our tree cover and the rain was picking up. As a reward for all of our hard work so far, we had to walk through an area with dense, thigh-high grasses and other plants that were more than happy to dry themselves off on our feet and legs. Now we were getting wet from above and below, but it didn’t have an impact on our good mood. We were outside, immersed in nature and getting in a good walk. At the first water crossing, we came to a swampy area and hopped across a few logs and squishy grass tufts to avoid the mud. This was our water crossing. The water was knee-deep, clear and moving swiftly. On a hot, sunny day this would be an ideal spot to cool off and sit beside the sand-bottomed creek for a while. During a wet year or after a heavy rain, this water crossing could easily become the most challenging part of the hike. We continued on as before, sometimes climbing up a trail littered with slick rocks, sometimes squeezing through the woods on a narrow track no wider than a deer trail. Our footsteps thumped on the ground like on a hollow log in some spots and crunched with sticks and acorns in others and there was always the faint sound of wind in the trees and the constant hiss of the rain as it hit the canopy. Like the landscape, the smells varied, too. In the beginning I noticed a sweet odor that was hard to figure out. Then came the tannic musk of decaying oak leaves, the scent of fresh pine and the funk of slimy mushrooms growing in the cracks of rotten logs. The sights, sounds and smells were constantly changing as we made our way around La Salle Lake. Towards the latter half of the trip the sun came out and we dried out as the temperatures climbed. After the second river crossing, which was only a tiny stream we could easily step across, it was a short, straight up hike. Then, we walked on a wider, grassy trail for a while. Suddenly, we had reached the end of the Challenge Trail. Our Avenza app told us we had hiked

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about six and a half miles, but there was a little bit left to go to get back to the campground. We popped out of the woods on some mowed-grass prairie trails, just to duck back into a variety of hard and soft woods with some open, grassy areas thrown in. This was the Hunter Waking Trail. Soon we reached the picnic area. We stopped and checked out the nice, big shelter, natural play area and views of the lake. Next was the fishing pier, then the boat landing and a steep hike up past the camper cabins back to the campground.

If you haven’t been, Lake La Salle State Rec Area is definitely worth exploring. The Black Bear guest house at the northern end of La Salle Lake

We came back after about five hours and had hiked a total of 7.9 miles. While the Challenge Trail itself is six and a half miles long, we needed to hike an extra mile and a half on other trails to make it a loop around the lake.

bike & “paddle” northern minnesota. Catch a Bemidji Beer & take a crowler to go. // Downtown Bemidji off the Paul Bunyan Trail // BemidjiBeer.com Minnesota Trails

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Garden Island Rec. Area

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More details at:

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