Carpenter St. Croix Valley Nature Center-Hastings-Minnesota

Today’s hiking adventure was at the Carpenter St. Croix Valley Nature Center.

Today I adventured out for a solo hike. Mother Nature has a way of healing the soul and I needed a bit of that today. The sun was shining, the birds were chirping, and the squirrels were playing. I began my adventure on the Savanna Trail.

From the Savanna trail, I entered the South River Bluff Trail. The trail descended down the bluff towards the St. Croix River.

The river began to appear through the trees. I could hear all the boats’ motors roaring in the distance.

The right side of the trail was lined with stones. Some are covered in a dark green moss.

The trail led to a dock on the St. Croix River. Many boats passed by in the distance. The wake from the boats made the dock sway back and forth.

I must have been the first person on the trail this morning. I was walking into so many spiderwebs.  Spiderwebs are so itchy!

The trail began to go straight up the bluffs. Many different ferns were basking in the heat.

The trail led me back to the Savanna Trail.

Next stop was the Ravine Lookout. A beautiful wooden deck stretched down the side of the hill. It was a bit buggy at the bottom, so I didn’t stay long.

The North Loop Trail was next.

The next part of the trail was my favorite. The tall pine trees looked amazing and they smelled wonderfully.

The Red Cedar Trail was next.

The Red Cedar Trail led back to the North Loop Trail.

The trail led to the front of the park. I crossed the road to take a photo of the park sign. A beautiful Polyphemus Moth was hanging on to a stem. I couldn’t believe how huge it was. After a bit of research I learned they only live for 4 days. I am thankful I was able to see it in its short life. It remained very still for me to take its photo.

Vibrant purple lupine lined the field by the front of the park.

I crossed the street and headed back inside the park. I took the trail next to a small pond. The pond was full of tadpoles!

I wanted one more view of the river before leaving this amazing park. I took the trail to the River Overlook.

Today’s hiking adventure was 5.5 miles.

Minnehaha Parkway (part 2)-Minneapolis-Minnesota

We continued our hike on the Minnehaha Parkway May 30th, 2023.

We started our hiking adventure this evening where we left off last week, off of Portland Avenue. Another beautiful night to be out, a bit hot and humid but hey, it’s almost summer.

The Minnehaha Creek and Parkway cuts through a large part of South Minneapolis’ neighborhoods. This means there are many different entry points to access the parkway. There are also many different bridges to cross over the creek. Of course, we had to take in all the different views.

The trail continues under Highway 35W.

Under Nicollet Avenue was next. I find hiking under the highways and roads I use all the time so interesting.

Below one of the bridges was a small dirt island where some ducks took up residence.

Vibrant wildflowers grew alongside the trail.

Along the trail are some giant ancient trees. The trunks on some of these trees are ginormous!

The next main road we went under was Lyndale Avenue.

We continued along the parkway trail towards Lake Harriet.

We reached Lake Harriet and decided to turn around and head back to our starting point.

On our way back, we decided to hike on the other side of the creek for a bit for a different view.

Earlier we had crossed under a long pedestrian bridge. We made sure to find a way to cross over it. It was cool to see the trail below that we had just hiked.

We noticed a pine tree still decorated in holiday ornaments. I have to assume that since only the bottom half was decorated, the gnomes must have done it.

Our hiking adventure was 5.5 miles.

Minnehaha Parkway-Minneapolis-Minnesota

We hiked the Minnehaha Parkway May 23rd, 2023.

We began our evening adventure on the Minnehaha Parkway by the Minnehaha Falls. Beautiful homes, trees, and flowers lined the parkway.

There were many different bridges to cross to view the creek below.

We continued along the paved trail.

At Portland Avenue, there is a giant bunny statue. This bunny is decorated by the neighborhood residents throughout the year. We turned around and began to hike back. We chose to hike the unpaved trails close to the creek.

Being so close to the creek, the mosquitos began to swarm around us looking to make us their evening meal.

We rushed back to the paved trail trying to save ourselves from the mosquitos. It was a beautiful evening, so we decided to make a loop around Lake Nokomis before heading back to our starting point.

The lake was packed! Everyone was out enjoying the almost summer evening at Lake Nokomis. People were walking, biking, swimming, and sailboating.

The sun was beginning to set.

Lake Nokomis is near the airport and downtown Minneapolis. The smoke from the Canadian wildfires cast a haze over the sky.

The next few photos are my favorite of the evening.

We took the sidewalk through the neighborhood back towards Minnehaha Falls. We passed a mushroom that looked fake due to its size. After a closer look, we determined the mushroom was real!

We took a moment to view the Minnehaha Falls before calling it a night.

Our evening hiking adventure was 8.6 miles.

Baker Park Reserve-Medina-Minnesota

Today’s hiking adventure was at Baker Park Reserve.

My usual hiking partner, my cousin, was out of town today. I was very happy to have my mom join me on my hiking adventure.

The trails are nicely paved in Baker Park. Many people were out hiking, biking and rollerblading. We hiked the trail that loops around Lake Katrina.

The birds were singing to us throughout our entire hike. A Tree Swallow was perched on a birdhouse.

Signs of spring were still present. Wildflowers and baby leaves were popping up everywhere.

The sun shining through the trees created beautiful shadows along the trail.

The sun was beginning to get warm. The cool shade of the trees felt nice.

The water was so blue next to the vibrant greenery.

We found a sign that marked the 45th Parallel at Baker Park Reserve. Where we were standing marked the midpoint between the Equator and North Pole.

The sumac was so colorful against the blue sky.

We continued along the trail enjoying all the colors around us.

We took a rest at a bench with Lake Katrina in the distance.

Today’s hiking adventure was 6 miles.

River Bend Nature Center-Faribault-Minnesota

Today’s hiking adventure began at River Bend Nature Center.

As we began our adventure, we couldn’t help but notice all the colors of Spring! From the green grass and leaves to the purple, white, pink and yellow wildflowers. The energy of the park was vibrant and alive.

Not too long after we started our hike, we had to stop and put on our rain gear. Dark clouds appeared overhead and the rain began to fall.

For some reason, both of our internal navigation systems were off today. Every trail we thought we were on took us to a different destination then we read on the map. This park had surprises for us.

One side of the park borders the Minnesota State Prison. There were giant metal fences on one side of the trail and beautiful park land on the other. We continued on the unpaved trail.

The trail led to a tunnel. It was called the Teepee Tonka Tunnel. The sign stated it was established in 1937 as an old root cellar. Of course, we had to go through it.

Once through the tunnel, colorful wildflowers lined the edges of the trail.

We stopped on the bridge that crosses over the Straight River. Trains crossed over the bridge in the distance. A lone goose sat on the bridge watching the rushing river below.

The trail continues on the other side of the bridge, however, the River Bend trail system ends. We decided to turn back and take the trail closest to the river. River trails never disappoint!

A single red Columbine grew alongside the trail.

We spotted another tunnel but decided against going into it. We stayed on the river trail until we reached Teepee Tonka Park.

We looped around the park and it brought us back to where the lone goose was hanging out on the train bridge. And yes, the goose was still there. We found a tall set of stairs and decided to see what lay atop of the hill. We spotted deer at the top. We could not locate any trails, so back down the steps we went.

The trail laid parallel to the train tracks. We momentarily diverted from the trail to the train tracks.

We then crossed under the train tracks.

We continued along the trail.

The Straight River is anything but that. We hiked alongside the river and then crossed over it again.

At this point I decided that this park is now one of my favorites. The variety of landscapes and trails are amazing! Even in the pouring rain, the beauty of this park spoke to me! Little did I know what else this park was about to show me.

Lots of mushrooms! We even found a turkey feather.

There were many trails to hike on, some wide and some narrow. The narrow trails led within the forest area. A little slippery at times due to the rain and incline of the trail.

We looped back across the bridge over the Straight River and under the train tracks. There were several trails to choose from. As always, we chose the trail closest to the river. Wow! The river current was strong.

We continued on the trail taking in all the views of the river.

We made our way back to the Nature Center. As we were leaving the park, we saw a sign for a waterfall. We parked at the nearest lot and hiked back to see the waterfall.

Today’s hiking adventure was 10 miles.

Hiking Essentials

The following are my personal recommendations of items for average hikers like myself. They all make great gifts for the hiker in your life or for when you want to treat yourself! As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Thank you for supporting my hiking adventures!

TrailBuddy Trekking Poles are lightweight and collapsible. They come with interchangeable accessories for different weather and terrain. The poles easily attach to my backpack. The Trekking Poles come in different colors.

The INOXTO Lightweight Hiking Backpack has lots of pockets to store all my needed items. It also comes with a waterproof rain cover. The best part is that the backpack has two straps. One connects around the waist and the other connects around my chest. It helps alleviate any pain from my shoulders and back that come with wearing a backpack.

If you are looking for a smaller and lighter backpack, then I recommend the ZOMAKE Ultra Lightweight Backpack. Lots of fun colors to choose from.

Another MUST have item is a water bottle. The Hydro Flask Bottle and the Thermoflask Stainless Steel Insulated Water Bottle keep your water nice and cool on hot days. I always carry a 40 ounce bottle with me.

Hot sweaty summer days can deplete our bodies of the good stuff. I found Liquid I.V. Hydration Multiplier to be the best at replenishing the body’s need for electrolytes and vitamins. Lime and Passion Fruit are my favorite flavors.

This next item is a game changer! The mosquitos and flies can be horrible on the trails. Pop one of these nets over your cap and never look back. Just don’t wear around open flames.

Bug spray is an important item, especially to keep the ticks off. I have found OFF Deep Woods Aerosol works the best under hot and sweaty conditions.

This small First Aid Kit is perfect for your backpack. Mine has come in handy when I have scraped my leg climbing over a fallen tree on a trail. Safety first!

Another must-have summer item is sunscreen. I really like the spray sunscreen from Alba Botanica. It’s biodegradable and cruelty free. Bonus, it also works well. I use it all over my body including my face.

Neutrogena has a great sunscreen for your face. This sunscreen is lightweight and non-comedogenic.

After a long hike I use Neutrogena Cleansing Face Wipes to clean all the bug spray, sunscreen and sweat off my face. If you are prone to breakouts, I highly recommend using these to clean up before your drive home. They are also plant-based compostable.

A good pair of socks can go a long way on a hike, especially on a long hike. Darn Tough Socks stay put on your feet-no bunching up in your shoe or slipping off and no blisters. They are also guaranteed for life.

Balega is another great brand of socks and are a great option if you’re wearing sneakers on paved trails-they’re super comfortable.

A great pair of hiking boots can make or break your hiking adventures. Oboz Sypes Mid Leather B-Dry Hiking Boots will keep your feet happy along those trails.

Don’t let the rain stop you from going on a hike. Throw on the Anyoo lightweight rain poncho and hike on! They have many colors to choose from. I like this poncho because it covers me and my backpack all in one.

I found the perfect lightweight long tank top. Most tank tops end just past my stomach, not this tank. It hangs much lower than most tank tops for a comfortable feeling all while covering your lady parts and bum area.

I never hike without a baseball cap connected to my backpack. On hot sunny days I wear it to keep the sun off my head and on rainy days I wear it to keep the rain off my glasses. Being a Minnesotan, I gotta rock a Twins cap.

Sukeen Cooling Towels are great to wear around your neck or to drop over your hot sweaty head. They help cool you down instantly and they are reusable.

Never be without a charged phone again with an Anker Portable Charger. I take lots of photos so I drain my battery quickly on long hikes.

Snacks! The best part of hikes are the snacky snacks. Clif Bars are my favorite snack. They give me energy. I have found that many of the power bars on the market make me sleepy after eating them, not Clif Bars though. My favorite are the peanut butter ones!

That’s it Fruit Bars make a tasty hiking snack too!

Hopefully, you will never need this item however, I recommend having it just in case you run into a bear or another large animal that you need to run away from.

Winter Hiking Items

MSR Revolution Explore All-Terrain Snowshoes have great traction on snow, ice, up and downhill. They are easy to put on and they stay on. I found them to be very lightweight!

These are a must-have item for my backpack during the winter months. YakTrax are easy to put on and they stay on. No more slipping on icy trails.

I will continue to update this list as I find other must have hiking essentials. Please share the list with other hiking enthusiasts.

Bertram Chain of Lakes Regional Park-Monticello-Minnesota

Today’s hiking adventure began at Bertram Chain of Lakes Regional Park.

After looking at the map, I can see why the park has “Chain of Lakes” in the title. Four lakes and a pond are surrounded by hiking trails.

We followed the trail down to Bertram Lake.

The unpaved trails were wide and well maintained.

We crossed over many different bridges throughout our hike. Little bits of green were popping out. Spring is here!

Long Lake offered beautiful views. The clouds mirrored themselves across the still lake. The lake was actually quite long, hence its name. There were several places along the trail to stop for different views.

New growth was everywhere!

Alongside the hiking trails, a single track bike trail weaved throughout the forest.

We continued on the trail.

Hiking through the pine tree grove is always a favorite. The smell is so relaxing.

I forgot to mention earlier, the trails are numbered 1-5. So far we had been hiking on trails 1 and 2. Trail 3 is a loop which circles the park’s prairie restoration area. They recently had a controlled burn of the prairie. The contrast of the green trail and the burnt prairie was striking.

Back on trail 2… The bright blue sky and the green grass was so nice to see.

Wildflowers added a wonderful splash of color along the trail.

A snake shed its skin right on the trail.

We found a bit of tree graffiti along the trail.

As we looped back to our starting point, the sky was mostly clear. I snapped a few more photos of Bertram Lake. The trees mirrored against the calm water.

Today’s hiking adventure was 8.3 miles.

Tamarack Nature Center-White Bear Township-Minnesota

Today’s hiking adventure began at Tamarack Nature Center.

This past week I placed all my winter hiking items into storage. Oh boy, did I regret putting them away this morning. It was 38 degrees and windy and rainy as we began our hike. I’m not sure Minnesota will see a spring this year. We may just jump straight into summer. Nevertheless, we persevered as true Minnesotans do. Tamarack Nature Center has several trails throughout the park. We began our hike on the Acorn Loop.

Throughout the park there were nice boardwalks. With the water level high due to all the snow and rain we have had this year, some of the boardwalks were almost level with the water.

Tamarack Lake can be seen in the distance. A few blue jays were seen flying around. Unfortunately, they didn’t want to be photographed.

We took the Turtle Pass Trail down to the dock on Tamarack Lake.

We continued on the Acorn Loop to the Dragonfly Loop. Baby leaves were popping out everywhere. We passed by a cute fairy house. Inside the house, there was a notebook where people could write down their wishes for the fairies to answer.

A bit further down the trail about 5 deer passed in front of us. They watched us just as closely as we watched them.

We continued on the Firefly Loop trail.

We passed through a beautiful green pine tree grove.

Several wild turkeys greeted us. One turkey just stood there as if I was the paparazzi, and they were enjoying having their picture being taken. They sure have beautiful feathers.

The Deer Pass Trail brought us to Fish Lake. The wetlands surrounding the lake were also full of water.

We finished our hike at Tamarack Nature Center and decided to hike towards Otter Lake. Unfortunately, the trails we found were underwater. We then hiked to Bald Eagle Lake to take in the view.

Today’s hiking adventure was 7.1 miles.

Patrick Eagan Park-Eagan-Minnesota

Today’s hiking adventure began at Patrick Eagan Park.

After a week of rain, it sure was nice to see the sun this morning. We found a zipline near the parking lot. Of course, we both had to take it for a ride. Now that our adrenaline was pumping, it was time for our hike.

The trail led us to McCarthy Lake.

Little bits of green foliage were beginning to pop.

The morning sun shining through the trees is one of my favorite sights.

Up and down the hills we went.

We found a giant birch tree.

Due to the heavy snow we had this winter, many branches and several whole trees were down.

The trail led us between Lake McCarthy and another unidentified lake or pond.

Back at our starting point we decided to ride the zipline one more time!

Today’s hiking adventure was 5 miles.

Fort Snelling State Park-St. Paul-Minnesota

Today’s hiking adventure began at Fort Snelling State Park.

We parked by the Thomas C. Savage Visitor Center and began our hike towards Pike Island. Let me backup a bit, this past winter Minnesota experienced its 3rd snowiest winter. This past week, the weather was in the high 80’s which meant the snow melted fast! As we neared the bridge to cross over to Pike Island we noticed…well…as you will see in the picture below, the bridge was surrounded by water. Since we didn’t have a canoe, we needed to change our hiking plans.

We decided to hike the paved trail towards Coldwater Spring. The weather was cool and rainy. It sure was nice to see little bits of spring beginning to pop out.

In the distance, we could hear running water. We exited the paved trail and began to explore the unpaved trails. A mini waterfall surrounded by colorful graffiti appeared.

As we entered Coldwater Spring, more signs of spring began to appear.

We continued to hike the unpaved trails towards Minnehaha Falls.