Monday, yesterday, was Memorial Day Holiday here in the States. Susan and I decided to break out of our usual weekend routines and do something together. Hiking is one thing we’ve always done together. Heck, our first date 19 years ago was a hike. Since 2011 we’ve been members of the Minnesota State Parks Hiking Club Program. It’s an informal club. The challenge is to visit every state park in the state with hiking trails and walk a trail that has been designated a Hiking Club Trail. The trails range in distance anywhere from one mile to seven miles. Not to demanding. Since 2011 we’ve only done 16 out of 65 state parks, as of yesterday. We’re off to a slow start. We were concerned the challenge would be too easy with the shortness of the hikes. We’re finding the logistics of visiting every park is harder than we realized. We have to be very deliberate in our planning to get out. But we’ve also learned the challenge is taking us to small out of the way parks we would have never visited if it weren’t for the challenge. There are some real gems in the State Park system. Yesterday we decided to visit two nearby parks that we’ve been to dozens of times but have never hiked the Hiking Club Trail in each park. To keep you honest and show you have actually hiked each Hiking Club Trail, a password on a sign post is placed somewhere along the trail. You have to find that sign and record the password.
An added incentive to get out and hike in State Parks is the 125th Anniversary of the Minnesota State Parks system being celebrated this year. They’ve made a 125 mile challenge for this year. Hike, bike, or paddle 125 miles in state parks this year and earn a 125th Year Anniversary Certificate. We decided we could use the extra incentive to motivate us to accelerate our Hiking Club challenge.
Temperance State Park
We started our day by heading up the North Shore of Lake Superior. Our goal was to complete Hiking Club Hikes in two State Parks, Temperance River State Park and George Crosby H. Manitou State Park. Temperance River drops dramatically through a narrow gorge carved in 1.1 billion year old lava flows before reaching Lake Superior. The Hiking Club trail follows the river upstream for a mile and then returns. It’s short, extremely scenic trail easily accessible to day hikers and tourists. Considering it was a Holiday Weekend it wasn’t terribly busy. Here’s the highlight pictures:
George H.Crosby Manitou State Park
After we finished this hike we ventured inland on some gravel National Forest Service Roads through the scenic Northwoods to George H.Crosby Manitou State Park. This a unique park in the State Park System. The land was donated to the State with the condition it was to be left wild and undeveloped. There is no Park office, no facilities other than vault toilets, no running water. Just a gravel entrance road, a small parking lot, and a picnic area. There is a system of trails and rustic backpacking sites. Back in the 90’s when Susan and I were living in the Twin Cities and learning to backpack, we camped at this park. The trails are rugged and can be a bit challenging. The Hiking Club Trail follows the exact 4.2 mile loop we did as a backpack overnight loop back in 1999. It may sound short, but it is rock and root filled with constant elevation change. Lots of small ups and downs. It is much more difficult than the mileage would indicate. It could be the most challenging 4 miles of all the Hiking Club trails. We were pleasantly tired after finishing up this trail. One highlight, among many, is the gorgeous Falls on the Manitou River reached only by a rugged footpath. No flip flop wearing tourists at this waterfall. Here’s the highlights:
The weather was fantastic. One day only, it was in the mid-70’s, dry with moderate winds. The bugs were surprisingly low. However, we each got a couple of black fly bites. Back to work Tuesday today was a completely different picture. Highs in the mid-40’s, blustery, and rainy. I love it when holiday weather combined with a nice get away work out so great.