Hiking Club Trail #16
Date: March 24, 2018
Location: Hinkley, MN
Length: 4.0 Miles
Difficulty: Intermediate: Only because it was winter and there was a lot of ice and snow
Cumulative Hiking Club Miles: 46.3 of 197
As my Mom and I are both approaching patches (25 miles for her 50 miles for me) we were hoping to get in 2 hikes this weekend - this was the only one we did - the ice is real people!
4 miles in the ice and a few inches of snow can be pretty exhausting - some days those 4 miles can feel like 10... this was one of those hikes.
I feel like this hike just didn't start right. We pull into St. Croix State Park - stop at the Ranger Station hoping to get our stamps for the Passport Club, the office is closed, no big deal usually there is a stamp outside - it is nowhere to be found and I am one of 4 people out there at that time looking for it. Never did find it so I am one stamp short in my Passport book. So I am not super thrilled with this park at this point but it it time to go hiking. This park is huge with over 100 miles of hiking trails - so my expectations are high - the big parks usually have their sh!t together.
Even the map is hard to read - because it shows the whole park and all of the trails it is hard to zero in on the section you need but, I drive to the lodge where our hike is supposed to start and I see no sign of the hiking club trail signs anywhere (usually you can see them from the parking lot if you are in the right place). I know my hike is supposed to start to the right of this lodge so I head that way and I swear it was a quarter of a mile before I saw a hiking club sign and for the entire hike they are few and far between - some of them even had directional arrows pointing the wrong ways.
We get out of the car to the strong smell of burning brush - I am guessing there was a prescribed burn a few days earlier because this hillside to the river was charred the entire length of our hike and was still smoldering in places.
The path takes you along the bluffs of the St. Croix river and through a wooded area. You come to the ruins of the old CCC camp and then loop back and follow a paved (ice) path back. There are stunning views a long the way and some pretty interesting things to learn through the informational signage at the CCC camp.
Side note: Grouse are assholes! They seem to hangout along the sides of the trails but they are so camouflaged I never see them then right as you approach where they are "hiding" they fly out abruptly right in front of you and scare the crap out of you. This is not my first experience with this it happened at at lest 3 different parks in the fall and this weekend it didn't happen just once it happened twice. Now my dog is in a crazy up roar then just to add to it 4 deer cross our trail right it front of us. Penny was exhausted from the excitement of that by the time we got to the car!
All in all this park offers a ton of trails and I can't wait to get back and check some of them out.