Hiking Club Trail #55
Date: October 7, 2022
Location: Side Lake, MN
Length: 3.0 Miles
Cumulative Hiking Club Miles: 154.2 of 197
This park is BIG, kinda disjointed and hard to navigate with minimum maintenance roads. You must take at least a small length of a minimum maintenance road to access the HCT. We parked in the Pickerel Lake parking lot that you need to take a short spur trail to the actual trail (this will add 1 mile total to your hike) just to stay off of the larger minimum maintenance road.
The trail was wide and nice - the woods were beautiful. Fall colors were past peak by about a week but were still good. Dogs flushed out 6 grouse.
The trail gets rough and narrow as you get to Pickerel Lake - great views just harder.
I think this was my favorite park of this trip.
Bear Head Lake
Hiking Club Trail #54
Date: October 6, 2022
Location: Ely, MN
Length: 3.0 Miles
Cumulative Hiking Club Miles: 151.2 of 197
We earned our 150 mile patch today! And I mean EARNED - this trail was difficult (the most difficult we've done up until this point, by FAR).
The entire trail minus about a mile of it is nothing but rocks and roots - like nowhere else to step but on the next rock type of trail. Add in the difficulty of doing this will a visually impaired person and 2 dogs and it made for a stressful afternoon. The fact that my Mom was able to do this one with little to no assistance is a miracle.
The park was beautiful though - I would have loved to see more of it but my eyes needed to be on my feet most of the time to make sure no one got hurt.
It snowed the night before and rained lightly on us all day - which had taken a lot of leaves off the trees. Despite this the fall colors still looked great, though the ranger told me she wished I could have seen it the day before, oh well.
Squirrels are still coming after the dogs at all costs - taunting them every chance they get. Dogs also found a garder snake towards the end of the trail.
Hiking Club Trail #53
Date: October 5, 2022
Location: Deer River, MN
Length: 1.8 Miles
Cumulative Hiking Club Miles: 148.2 of 197
Grouse are assholes - I've said it before, it still rings true.
The dogs have flushed 4 of them out of the woods today -they scare the hell out of me every time :)
This park is tiny, with only 2 total miles of hiking trails and rustic camping but in the fall it is still pretty. Huge white pines tower over the forest of maple and birch trees. The colors plus the smell of pine and oak just made the park feel relaxing.
Squirrels are still out for the dogs - Penny almost got one. It rounded a tree and ended up at eye level with her. I saw it's eyes get huge but it managed to barely get away.
Zippel Bay - Round 2
Hiking Club Trail #52
Date: October 4, 2022
Location: Williams, MN
Length: 1.5 Miles
Cumulative Hiking Club Miles: 146.4 of 197
We attempted to hike this park back in June but the HCT trail that runs along the shores of Lake of the Woods wasn't accessible due to record breaking flooding. We returned hoping to be able to do the trail along the lake but the lake is still high so they have moved the HCT temporarily to a new location.
It was a surprisingly beautiful hike through a birch forest - all the leaves were golden yellow, with the sun shining through added a magical glow to the forest. The trail also had an odd amount of boulders for flat terrain. We were able to hike to the sounds of songbirds and there wasn't another soul in sight.
We will have to go back someday and do the regular HCT but I was greatly surprised to find this gem of a trail I probably wouldn't have otherwise found.
Hiking Club Trail #51
Date: October 3, 2022
Location: Bigfork, MN
Length: 2.9 Miles
Difficulty: Moderate to Difficult Depending on ability
Cumulative Hiking Club Miles: 144.9 of 197
Squirrels are terrorists! Do they stalk your dogs like they do mine? They make sure they can been seen then move just out of their reach - chaos ensues!
The Park was a bit under construction so we started the HCT at the Chase Point Trail (this is the best part of the hike) you are on an Esker between 2 lakes the entire time - going through beautiful old white pine forests. Fall colors were at peak or just beyond. Leaves we falling on us the entire hike.
My mom fell climbing up a rooty and rocky hill - being visually impaired her depth perception doesn't alway exist and even with my assistance she stepped in the wrong spot and kind of slo-mo fell backwards, like a cartoon. Somehow she managed to not hurt herself so we just laughed and continued on.
The rest of the hike is loop through a pine bog and a maple forest - that was beautiful in the fall.
Lake Vermilion-Soudan Mine
Hiking Club Trail #50
Date: October 2, 2022
Location: Tower, MN
Length: 2.5 Miles
Cumulative Hiking Club Miles: 142.0 of 197
The first time I visited this park I was 12 and on a school field trip where we toured the mine. Fast forward many years and here we are again - the mine is currently closed for tours (maintenance) but we are here to hike.
The trail starts as a tour of the outside of the mine buildings - giving you a full history of the mine before taking you into the woods.
Fall was in full force here - the colors were really popping.
We finished our hike - then headed to our cabin rental in Remer where we will be staying for the week while visiting more state parks.
Cuyuna Country SRA
We stopped by to get our passport stamp on the way up North. The stamp is not at the Park it is at the DNR office in town. Once we found the stamp we headed out to the Park (which is a lot bigger than I anticipated). The park is used more as a mountain bike park - hiking is allowed on a lot of the trails but you will share them with bikers. There are many lakes inside the park created from old mine sites.
First we stopped at Croft Mine (which is closed and fenced in) we looked through the fence at the old buildings then drove to Yawkey Mine Lake. I hiked down to the lake - almost got run over by a couple of bikes (it is hike at your own risk) took some pictures and we headed out.
I will definitely be back - with my bike next time!
This is my quest to find my place beneath the stars - outside the confines of my office and without the pressures of everyday life.