Swede Hollow Park-St. Paul-Minnesota

Today’s hiking adventure began at Swede Hollow Park.

By descending down a long staircase, we started our adventure.

Swedehenge, a large stone exhibit, encompassed the lower level of the park. Informational historic markers lined the trail explaining the timeline of the park’s history.

We hiked out of Swede Hollow Park on the Bruce Vento Regional Trail.

We hiked under E. 7th Street through a very intriguing stone tunnel.

The bright colors of fall began to whisper through the greenery.

Downtown St. Paul and our State Capitol appear in the distance.

It was then on to Indian Mounds Park.

The park resides on the cliffs which offers great views of downtown St. Paul, the Mississippi River, and the train tracks below.

The fall colors were exploding as we hiked the trail through the park.

We continued our hike on the Samuel H. Morgan Regional Trail. The trail led us closer to the Mississippi River.

We hiked by the cliffs we were standing on earlier.

We continued hiking alongside the river passing under the Lafayette Bridge, Robert Street Bridge, and Wabasha Street Bridge. In order to loop back to our starting point, we hiked through downtown St. Paul capturing some fun photos along the way.

As we hiked along E. 7th Street, we passed by a fabulous neighborhood art exhibit.

Today’s urban hiking adventure was 10.5 miles.

Quarry Park and Nature Preserve-Waite Park-Minnesota

Today’s hiking adventure began at Quarry Park and Nature Preserve.

Ah, the crisp fall air felt wonderful as we began our hike into the park. There are many different unpaved trails throughout the park that weave around the 20 different quarries. Saint Cloud Red Granite was quarried from the land with operations ending in the mid 1950’s. Quarry Park and Nature Preserve opened in 1998. Along with hiking, biking and skiing, people are able to swim, SCUBA dive and rock climb in designated areas.

Old mining equipment can be found throughout the park. My favorite was the gigantic granite saw blade.

Giant rock piles are seen all over the park. The mining term for these piles is Grout Piles.

One of the grout piles had an observation deck at the top.

The quarries are stunning. The water mirrors the landscape that surrounds it.

Along with the amazing quarries, the park offers wonderful trails through wetlands and prairies.

The quarries created a humid environment which the mushrooms appeared to enjoy.

The leaves are just beginning to change.

Today’s amazing hiking adventure was 8.4 miles.

Myre-Big Island State Park-Albert Lea-Minnesota

We hiked Myre-Big Island State Park on July 14, 2022.

Our hiking adventure started on the Big Island Trail which looped around the island.

Big Island’s plant life was a vibrant green. Surrounding the island was the cool water of Albert Lea Lake.

We crossed the causeway to the mainland where we hiked the Bur Oak Trail to the Great Marsh Trail.

A beautiful black swallowtail graced us with its presence.

We made our way to the Blazing Star Prairie Trail. This trail was HOT! The July summer sun beat down on us. The view though made the heat worth it.

The wildflowers were loving the sun!

Briefly, we hiked the White Fox Trail to the Plum Trail until we reached the causeway again.

A curious deer greeted us when we returned to Big Island.

Mushrooms were beginning to take over a tall tree stump which created an intriguing sight.

Our hiking adventure was 8 miles.

Maplewood State Park-Pelican Rapids-Minnesota

We hiked Maplewood State Park on Aug 13th, 2022.

Minnesota is home to over 10,000 lakes. The trail we hiked took us past four different lakes however, the 9,250-acre park has 8 major lakes, 7 small lakes, and many ponds. A pelican statue greeted us as we began the trail.

The winding trail led us through the forest.

At times the forest was so quiet. The air was still, the birds were silent, and the small critters were absent. With heavy dark clouds covering the sky, the forest became a bewildering and mysterious place. The lake views echoed this energy.

Scattered throughout the forest were the most amazing mushrooms.

Fall colors were beginning to pop on some of the leaves.

The final stretch of the trail led to an open prairie. Several horses shared the trail with us.

Our hiking adventure was 7.4 miles.

Lake Louise State Park-Le Roy-Minnesota

We hiked Lake Louise State Park June 26th, 2022.

Our hiking adventure began and ended on the Wildwood Loop Trail.

We hiked alongside the Little Iowa River and Lake Louise.

The forest was so lush and green.

Our hiking adventure was 1.2 miles. As we were heading back to our car a beautiful bright blue butterfly landed at our feet.

Never underestimate a short hiking adventure. Sometimes, it leads to the best eye candy.

Forestville/Mystery Cave State Park-Preston-Minnesota

We hiked Forestville/Mystery Cave State Park on June 25th, 2022.

After a morning of rain, the sun began to shine as we started our hike. We hiked the Maple Ridge Trail Loop and part of the Big Spring Trail.

Forestville Creek and South Bend Root River ran parallel with the trail at times.

The Hackberry Emperor butterflies were in season and they were everywhere! They are very social butterflies. Several hitched a ride on us for over a mile.

Hundreds of the Hackberry Emperor butterflies covered the ground near the creek.

A beautiful Tiger Swallowtail joined in the fun as well.

And let’s not forget our mushroom friends. Pretty sure they were enjoying the humid weather.

Our hiking adventure was 3.7 miles.

Our next stop…the Mystery Cave.

We opted for the hour-long scenic tour of the cave. The Minnesota DNR Officer who led the tour did an excellent job explaining the caves ecosystem. We enjoyed learning about the Minnesota DNR’s thoughts on the Mystery Cave which is conservation over exploration.

This is a brief explanation of the following photos. Stalactites form from water dripping from the ceiling. Stalagmites form from the ground upwards. When the stalactites and stalagmites meet, it is called a pillar or column. Flowstone is when water drips down the walls of the cave.

A fossil on the wall of the cave.

The tour ends at a breathtaking turquoise lake.

Check out the Mystery Cave if you are ever in Preston Minnesota.

Beaver Creek Valley State Park-Caledonia-Minnesota

We hiked Beaver Creek Valley State Park on June 25th, 2022.

Our hiking adventure began on the Beaver Creek Valley Trail. The trail followed the winding Beaver Creek. This allowed us to cross over the creek several times on our hike. The creek is well known amongst people who fish for its brown and native brook trout.

The air was as thick as the fog that clung closely to the top of the creek. A mysterious, almost eerie scene was cast before our eyes.

The wide, well maintained trail led us to a large open prairie that was surrounded by a dense forest.

Our hiking adventure was 3.7 miles.

Great River Bluffs-Winona-Minnesota

We hiked Great River Bluffs State Park on June 25, 2022.

The rain poured as we began our hiking adventure. We followed the King’s Bluff Trailhead to the King’s Bluff Overlook.

The light fog and rain created a mystical environment. We felt like we were walking into an enchanted forest.

The ground was a bit muddy at times. Thankfully, Mother Earth provided natural traction as we hiked up the hills.

The plants and flowers were soaking up the rain.

Fog gently danced around the top of the trees.

The overlook was breathtaking! The Mississippi River can be seen in the distance.

Our hiking adventure was 2.6 miles.

John A. Latsch State Park-Winona County-Minnesota

We hiked John A. Latsch on June 24th, 2022.

The Riverview Trail has a rating of difficult due to the 592 steps one needs to take straight up the bluff to Mount Charity Overlook.

On a hot, sunny and humid summer day we took our time climbing up those stairs. We saw glimpses of what the top of the bluff might offer the higher we climbed.

We made it to the top of the bluff! The overlook was worth the climb. The view of the mighty Mississippi River was magnificent.

Lock and Dam #5 can be seen in the distance.

What goes up must come down.

Our hiking adventure was 592 steps straight up the bluff.

Whitewater State Park-Altura-Minnesota

We hiked Whitewater State Park June 24th, 2022.

Our hike began on the Coyote Point Trail. The trail is rated difficult which we soon learned why. As soon as we crossed over the Middle Branch Whitewater River the trail went straight up the bluffs.

The trail began to level off the higher we went. First we reached an open prairie, then took a quick hike through the woods, and finally reached a gorgeous view from the bluffs.

We hiked down the Dakota Trail. This offered an amazing view of the giant stone bluffs from a different angle.

The Dakota Trail ended by the Nature Store. We stopped in for a refill of cold water and began the Meadow Trail. We crossed back over the Whitewater River. Colorful wildflowers popped out among the vast amount of greenery.

The Valley Trail led us to a small section of the Dakota Trail we hadn’t hiked before, so back up the bluffs we went to the Coyote Point Trail, and then back down to our starting point.

Our hiking adventure was 5.6 miles.

Purgatory Creek Park-Eden Prairie-Minnesota

Today’s hiking adventure began at Purgatory Creek Park.

We started our adventure at the park’s pavilion. Next to the pavilion there is a beautiful garden to stroll through and an honorable Veterans’ Memorial.

A wide paved trail looped around the Purgatory Creek Wildlife Area.

After crossing over our first bridge, we found an unpaved trail and decided to see where it led.

We found an amazing gnome house! We rang the bell for good luck.

While crossing the wooden planks, a family of ducks swam past us.

We jumped back on the paved trail.

Several white herons were perched high up in the trees grooming themselves.

We continued our hike on the Creek Valley Trail towards Staring Lake. Once again we found several unpaved trails that called to us to be explored.

Giant mushrooms!

The paved trail around Staring Lake offered several docks to view the lake. Giant water lilies were blooming near the shoreline.

Today’s hiking adventure was 7.9 miles.

Carley State Park-Plainview-Minnesota

We hiked Carley State Park on June 24th, 2022.

Midmorning on a beautiful sunny warm day, our adventure began. The trail looped us around the North Branch Whitewater River.

Birds were singing, grasshoppers were jumping, and the plant life was so lush it had a tropical feel to it. We were surprised we didn’t see monkeys swinging from the trees.

The unpaved trails were wide and well maintained.

Mushrooms were enjoying the humidity.

We came to a river crossing however, there wasn’t a bridge to cross. The large rocks that jetted out in the river were spread out just far enough to make it too hard to use them to get across. We really wanted to see the trail on the other side of the river, so we decided to take our boots and socks off and cross barefooted. The cold river felt great on our feet.

Once on the other side of the river, the trail became much narrower.

We crossed the river a few more times. Thankfully, there were giant concrete steps for us to use.

Carley State Park is known for their spring Bluebells. Unfortunately, these were the only Bluebells we found.

Our hiking adventure was 2.4 miles.

Kayaking-Lake Johanna-Arden Hills-Minnesota

On the evening of June 17th 2022, I went kayaking (for the first time ever) on Lake Johanna with a friend.

Summer is here! Time for an adventure on the water. The temperature was warm and the sky was crystal clear, a truly perfect summer evening. We launched off the dock to kayak clockwise around the lake. A kayak tour by the University of Northwestern was our first destination.

Our next destination brought us through a patch of lily pads. The water-lilies were just beginning to pop.

We kayaked under the University’s walking bridge. The picture below was taken just on the other side of the bridge, my favorite.

We passed by a loon. It didn’t seem bothered by us kayaking quite close at all. 

As we continued around the lake we spotted a beautiful heron catching its dinner.

The sun was beginning to set as we docked.

I had an absolute blast kayaking. I cannot wait to go again!

Cleary Lake Regional Park-Prior Lake-Minnesota

Today’s hiking adventure began at Cleary Lake Regional Park.

We began our hike on the unpaved trails. The trails were wide and well maintained.

A mama deer and her fawn greeted us as we completed the Poplar Creek Trail loop.

The Lakeside Trail offered a beautiful view of Cleary Lake.

The birds were singing and the mosquitoes were buzzing as we hiked through the trees.

A frog hopped by us. He appeared to be enjoying a leafy snack.

The Ironwood Trail allowed us to see the frothy spittle from the Meadow Spittlebug and little mushrooms.

The paved trail loops around Cleary Lake and through a variety of tree groves.

Nature continued to surprise us. A Garter Snake slithered past us as we made our way closer to the lake.

We ended our hiking adventure at 8.3 miles.

I decided to cool down and relax by the lake for a few minutes before leaving the park. A Black Swallowtail decided to join me.

As I walked to the dock, I noticed giant water-lilies close to the shore. They demanded a closer look.

Cleary Lake Regional Park offers a variety of outdoor fun. I will definitely return in the future.

St. Croix State Park-Hinckley-Minnesota

We hiked St. Croix State Park June 3rd, 2022.

As we drove into the park, we noticed that the main park office was 5 miles off the highway. Wow, this park must be gigantic was our first thought. Yep, it is!! St. Croix State Park is the largest state park in Minnesota at over 33,000 Acres!

Our first stop was the Fire Tower. The Fire Tower was built in 1937 by the Civilian Conservation Corps. With 134 steps to the top and 100 feet tall, we were up for the challenge.