Hiking Club Trail #11
Date: December 3, 2017
Location: St. Paul, MN
Length: 3.0 Miles
Difficulty: Easy: Well packed wide dirt trails
Cumulative Hiking Club Miles: 31.4 of 197
Sometime between by trip to Nerstrand in late October to now time got away from me... Halloween, Thanksgiving, the start of the Christmas season - it was time to get back outside.
Fort Snelling State Park isn't too far from the International Airport in St. Paul - which puts it right in the middle of the Twin Cities, this park is highly used and often swarming with people (and their dogs). This time I braved taking Penny along because A: she is hiking all the parks with me and would have to do it sometime B: She needs the exercise and C: She needs the exposure to other dogs even though it can stress me out.
The trail starts at the visitor center (I swear there were 100 dogs - fine probably 8 but it might as well have been 100). It follows a short path in the woods over a bridge and onto Pike Island - the trail continues along the perimeter of the island where you will see the convergence of the Minnesota and Mississippi rivers. As we got down the trail a ways there were less people and dogs and the hike became much more enjoyable. There are hollowed out old trees big enough for grown adults to stand in, there is usually quite a bit of wildlife in and around the park, this time we saw 2 bald eagles perched in the trees on the cliffs overlooking the river and a few white-tailed deer near a clearing by the power lines (nothing close enough for pictures as all I had with was my iPhone).
The history of this Park is long - Generations of Dakota people lived in villages along the Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers that meet in Fort Snelling state park, long before Europeans arrived. The river confluence was believed to be the place of origin and center of the earth by the bands of Mde-wa-kan-ton-wan Dakota, the "Dwellers by Mystic Lake." By the late 1600s, Europeans had visited the area. In the 1820s, historic Fort Snelling was built on the bluff above the two historic rivers to control the exploration, trade, and settlement on these waterways. 2012 marked 150 years since the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862. Fort Snelling State Park was an important location during this time.
Overall it was kind of a gloomy December day but it was good to be outside because the snow will fall soon and the days spent outside will be numbered.