Black Dog Trailhead-Burnsville-Minnesota

Today’s hiking adventure began at Black Dog Trailhead.

We hiked the Minnesota River Greenway alongside the Minnesota River. The trail began just shy of the Highway 35 W bridge and follows the river to the Cedar/Highway 77 Bridge. A squirrel greeted us as we began our adventure.

The Minnesota River was partially frozen.

Besides a light dusting of snow at times, the paved trail was nice and clear of snow and ice.

Black Dog Lake Overlook

Across the river from us, we could see many people riding their fat tire bikes along the river bottom trail.

We hiked up to Cedar/Highway 77 Bridge and turned around back to our starting point.

The trail passes by the Xcel Energy Power Plant.

Several eagles perched in the trees above the river looking for a snack.

The Highway 35 W bridge can be seen in the distance.

Today’s hiking adventure was 8.5 miles.

Purgatory Creek Park-Eden Prairie-Minnesota

Today’s hiking adventure began at Purgatory Creek Park.

We hiked Purgatory Creek Park this past summer and loved it! So of course, we had to see how everything looked covered in snow. Wow! We were not disappointed. A happy face greeted us as soon as we hit the trail.

The paved trail was covered in ice. Thankfully, we had our Yaktrax in our bags so we slipped them on. It was our first time wearing our Yaktrax and we could not believe how amazingly they worked.

We veered off the main trail towards a narrow bridge which crossed over part of the lake. Most of the lake was frozen except near the bridge.

Back on the paved trail, it was interesting to see leaves still on the trees.

We took another detour off the main path. There was a narrow walkway that led to an overlook of the wildlife area.

We continued our hike towards Staring Lake.

We hiked on the frozen Staring Lake.

The trees looked so beautiful covered in snow. At times, a gentle breeze would blow the snow off the trees which would catch the sunlight creating a glittery winter wonderland all around us.

We hiked back to our starting point crossing over the partially frozen creek.

Today’s hiking adventure was 7.4 miles.

Big Rivers Regional Trail-Mendota Heights-Minnesota

Today’s hiking adventure began at the Big Rivers Regional Trailhead.

After a week of heavy snowstorms, it felt great to get outside while the sun was shining. The temperature was a bit cool at -1 as our adventure started.

Big Rivers Trailhead has an amazing year round view of the Minnesota River and the airport. Planes were flying low overhead coming and going from the airport.

The paved trail was freshly plowed.

Giant snowballs gripped the branches of the trees. It gave the appearance of fluffy cotton balls.

The trail continued through the small town of Mendota.

Frozen water cascaded down the side of the rocky cliffs.

The confluence of the Mississippi River and the Minnesota River at Pike Island

Train tracks lay parallel to the Big River Trail at times. A long train passed by us as we hiked.

We reached the Lilydale trailhead and decided to hike the Robert Piram Regional Trail.

Tree branches were covered in snow. The snow shimmered in the sunlight.

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

Once back at the Big Rivers Trailhead we took in another view of the Minnesota River.

Today’s hiking adventure was 10 miles.

Best of 2022-Minnesota

This past year, my cousin and I hiked 36 Minnesota State Parks and 30 different Parks and Trails. Whether it was raining, snowing, or the sun was shining…we hiked. Our hiking adventures accumulated to a total of 348 miles in 2022!

Minnehaha Falls-Minneapolis

Crow-Hassan Park Reserve-Rogers

Cottage Grove Ravine Regional Park-Cottage Grove

St. Croix State Park-Hinckley

Elba Fire Tower-Elba

Great River Bluffs State Park-Winona

Forestville/Mystery Cave State Park-Preston

Myre-Big Island State Park-Albert Lea

Blue Mounds State Park-Luverne

Broken Down Dam Park-Fergus Falls

Lake Shetek State Park-Currie

Upper Sioux Agency State Park-Granite Falls

Big Stone Lake State Park-Ortonville

Glacial Lakes State Park-Starbuck

Sibley State Park-New London

Flandrau State Park-New Ulm

Charles A. Lindbergh State Park-Little Falls

Crow Wing State Park-Brainerd

Quarry Park and Nature Preserve-Waite Park

Banning State Park-Sandstone

Salem Hills Park-Inver Grove Heights

Theodore Wirth Regional Park-Golden Valley

Louisville Swamp-Shakopee

Happy New Year! Cheers to more adventures in 2023!

Athletic Park-Chaska-Minnesota

Today’s hiking adventure began at Athletic Park.

We hiked the Levee Trail alongside the Chaska Unit which is part of the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge.

Our recent snowstorm this week created a beautiful blanket of white snow throughout the State of Minnesota. Snow gently topped the Sumac and icicles shimmered in the sun.

Along the trail we found a park next to the Carver Water Tower with old metal playground equipment. It had an old school merry-go-round! We had to take it for a spin. After a few long laughs, we continued on our hike.

The Minnesota River was partially frozen.

Carver Creek Loop was the next trail we hiked.

The crisp white snow created a stark contrast along the shoreline of Carver Creek.

Clouds covered the sky for most of our hike however, the sun tried to make an appearance.

Rapids Lake Unit at Bluff Park was our next destination. We continued along the Carver Creek Loop trail. The trail went from a few footprints and fat tire tracks on the trail to having only one set of footprints in the snow and then no footprints. We followed some animal tracks on what appeared to be a trail. A few miles in, we saw a sign stating we were on the Rapids Lake Trail.

We decided to turn around and hike back to the Carver Creek Loop. I’m not sure why the trail is labeled as a loop since there is no loop. Our off the beaten path adventure allowed us to see three deer prancing, a flock of swans fly overhead, and best of all…hear the silence of the winter forest.

Today’s hiking adventure was 9 miles.

Louisville Swamp-Shakopee-Minnesota

Today’s hiking adventure was at Louisville Swamp.

We hiked the Mazomani Trail through the Louisville Swamp.

Our first stop was to take in the view at the Bluff Overlook.

The trail followed alongside the Louisville Swamp creek.

Eventually, we had to make a decision to cross over the creek or turn back around. We decided to jump on the rocks and ice to the other side. Of course I had to stop midway to take pictures.

Our next stop was to explore Jab’s Farm. The house was made from sandstone in 1880.

Back on the trail again.

Our next find was a GIANT boulder.

The mushrooms didn’t seem to mind the snow.

Mother Earth always seems to amaze us! We found wild cucumber pods. They appeared to decorate the trees like holiday ornaments. We also found a sweet tiny new branch growing from a stump.

We crossed over the Louisville Swamp creek several more times on the trail. Thankfully, there were bridges.

A blue jay flew by and landed long enough for me to snap its photo.

Today’s hiking adventure was 7 miles.

Theodore Wirth Regional Park-Golden Valley-Minnesota

Today’s hiking adventure was at Theodore Wirth Regional Park.

Wow! This park was packed by 9 am. There were many people cross country skiing, hiking, and biking along the trails. It took us a minute to figure out where the non paved hiking trails were. We decided to hike up the steps to get a better perspective.

The first trail we hiked was the Conundrum Trail. This trail ran parallel to Bassett Creek. The creek was partially frozen. Frozen snow formed stars on the top of the ice covered creek.

The snow covered trails were beautiful.

Snow blanketed the trees. We found some giant trees on the trail and some fallen trees that are now home to the woodland critters.

The next trail we hiked was the 45 North Trail. It brought us by the railroad tracks. We found some colorful graffiti under one of the bridges.

We hiked the Theodore Wirth Parkway for a bit. The park was making snow for the ski trails. The trees close by were covered in the fresh snow.

Along the parkway, downtown Minneapolis could be seen in the distance.

Today’s hiking adventure was 4.8 miles.

Carver Park Reserve-Waconia-Minnesota

Today’s hiking adventure began at Carver Park Reserve.

Winter is here! We bundled up this morning to fight off the morning chill. On went our winter coats, hiking boots, hats, gloves and even extra warm pants. After a week of cloudy and snowy weather, it sure was nice to have the sun out today.

The snow crunched under our feet as we hiked the trail. I always forget how loud winter hiking can be.

We hiked to an overlook. Lundsten Lake is in the far distance.

The trail led us to a section of Lundsten Lake where the lake was on both sides of the trail. 

The trail continued through the woods. Another angle of Lundsten Lake appeared. The lake almost looked frozen. 

There were a lot of hills on the trail. We definitely got our cardio in today. Towards the end we could feel the extra energy we were exerting with all the winter gear we were wearing.

Today’s hiking adventure was 4 miles.

Kaplan’s Woods Parkway-Owatonna-Minnesota

Today’s hiking adventure began at Kaplan’s Wood Park.

The temperature was a cool 44 degrees and the sun was beginning to shine as we began our adventure. Thick leaves layered the unpaved trail.

Pumpkins were scattered throughout the park for the critters.

There were maps throughout the park, however, they were not incredibly helpful. The different trails seemed to wind around the forest haphazardly. At times we wondered… “have we been on this trail already?”

Our mushroom friends helped us remember which trails we had been on before.

Raindrops laid gently on the leaves from last night’s rain.

Straight River flowed through the park.

We left Kaplan’s Woods and hiked to Lake Kohlmier. The wind was so strong it almost blew us into the lake from the dock.

The bridge brought us to a small island. Ducks were swimming all around us and the geese could be heard gossiping with each other in the distance. 

Today’s hiking adventure was 6.6 miles.

Salem Hills Park-Inver Grove Heights-Minnesota

Today’s hiking adventure began at Salem Hills Park.

The end of October is always bitter sweet. We are in the season of letting go. There are more leaves on the ground than on the trees. Fall colors are beginning to fade and the air is getting cold. Today though, may have been the perfect fall day. The sun was shining, the temperature was warm, and there was a cool breeze blowing.

The park is made up of unpaved shared hiking and biking trails.

Hiking through the birch tree groves was incredible. The changing colors of the leaves popped alongside the white bark.

The trail led us to a small pond.

Mushrooms were enjoying the weather too!

The trail looped around the park offering an amazing view of the spectacular fall colors.