State Park Chronicles: Interstate State Park

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Well, well, well… Looks like my last state park post was a lie. I had at least one more hike in me. Maybe more, depending on the weather and how much work/school gets to me before it snows. And surprise, surprise, it’s snowing….

Anyways, I tried to go to my library a few weeks back and upon turning into the entrance road I realized that it was Big Truck Day (firetrucks and dump trucks and all that jazz all parked in the parking lot for kids to go check out, very very very popular). I had a panic attack and had to get out of the zoo that was the parking lot as quickly as I could and then I ended up just going home and changing and heading off to Interstate State Park instead. The drive was absolutely gorgeous, the weather was perfect and I’m so glad I ended up spending my whole day outside instead of at the library (though that definitely wouldn’t have been a horrible way to spend the day either).

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Interstate was originally named “The State Park of the Dalles of the St. Croix” and was a joint venture between Minnesota and Wisconsin. It was created in 1895 and then Wisconsin purchased land for their portion in 1900. I thought this was really cool! This is one of Minnesota’s most popular state parks and averages about 300,000 visitors each year.

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If you’re looking for the Hikers Club trail, it’s the River Trail which is about 1.5 miles long. It’s definitely not a bad hike, it’s got amazing views! But make sure you’ve got good shoes and watch where you walk. It’s a very rocky trail and I definitely made a few missteps that had me shaky and almost twisting my ankles. I would rate it more of an intermediate hike, definitely not crazy difficult seeing as it’s relatively short, but with the terrain it could get dicey.

And speaking of views, here are some of my many river pictures:

 

It was super busy when I went out seeing as it was a Saturday and one of the last really good weather Saturdays at that. So I definitely hiked this a lot faster than I was expecting to. Worked up a sweat from going so fast but it was great overall.

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I did find this really nice sort of “hidden” rock overlook that I sat down at to do a little journaling and eat some snacks. There were a number of these along the trail and I tried to stop at any of the ones that didn’t already have people at them!

Nature is 100% my happy place and I could’ve spent all day here if I let myself.

 

After getting to the Glacial Potholes I explored a bit (again, very busy and I always get a little anxious being around people when I’m hiking, which also I feel like I should write an entire post about being a female solo hiker because people always ask me how/why I do that?) If you’re into rock climbing this is the park for you! I didn’t take any pictures of the climbers because I didn’t want to be creepy but you can get a permit and go climbing here. If I wasn’t terrified to try climbing on natural rock I would have loved to give it a go! Maybe someday!

Instead of pictures of the rock climbers, here’s a pic of some candy I ate:

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The glacial potholes area was super cool and if I wasn’t sweaty and tired and wanting to hike back to my car I would have explored this area a bit more. I do have to go back to get a stamp for my state park passport though so I think I’ll explore this area more then! It was really interesting and I wish I would have taken more pictures. Next time!

I snagged this geologic information from the Minnesota DNR website:

About 1.1 billion years ago, earthquakes erupted from Taylors Falls to Lake Superior and caused at least 10 different lava flows. The hardened basalt rock from these lava flows partly formed the Dalles of the St. Croix and the bottom of the river. From 530 million years ago up until 70 million years ago, the state was washed by advancing and retreating seas. Evidence of these ancient seas is revealed in the sedimentary rocks and formations found in the park. These rocks contain fossil remains of ancient animals, evidence of various creatures, and ripple marks left in stone by the now vanished seas.

There have been many different St. Croix Valleys through the ages. The first formed about 70 million years ago and current valley formed about 10,000 years ago. A glacier formed both Glacial Lake Duluth, now Lake Superior, and Glacial Lake Grantsburg, now extinct. Glacial Lake Duluth was much larger than modern day Lake Superior. As this giant body of ice thawed, its meltwaters roared south to carve out the broad valley of the St. Croix. Only very resistant basalts were able to partially withstand the torrent, resulted in the dalles, potholes, and cliffs we see today.

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State Park Chronicles: Afton State Park

This potentially might be the last State Park Chronicle of the year 😦

There’s a chance that I will be able to go to one or two more parks in the coming weeks but I swear every time I make the plan to go to hiking on the weekend, then one of three things happens: one is that work gets so overwhelming that I have to spend the weekend hibernating (even though I know that hiking will make me feel better), two is that I end up staying up way too late on Friday night and spend Saturday sleeping instead, and three is that all week it says it’s going to be nice on Saturday and then it RAINS.

So if I can somehow get it together, I might go hiking this weekend. But also, I’m getting a new bed frame next week and am supposed to be getting a storage unit soon and I have another paper due so I’m guessing I will spend the weekend crying and stressed instead of hiking. Plus my chronic pain has been through the roof the last few weeks and it’s hard enough standing on my feet for eight hours a day for work let alone unwind with some rigorous hiking 😦

Okay, back to the point of this actual post. Afton State Park!! I have been here a lot over the years and while I haven’t explored a whole lot of it, the parts that I have seen are very nice.

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Afton was created in 1969 and I think the biggest draw to the park is the St. Croix River!

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The beach is almost always at least a little bit busy and there are always boats going by in the river.

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Since I was there with my brothers and mom this time, we mostly stuck to the main loop, heading down to the river and then back up. There’s also a trail through a “prairie” that’s really pretty (when it’s not sunny that is, hiking in direct sunlight is no fun!). Other than that, I don’t think I’ve been on any of the other trails.

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It was crazy looking at these trees by the river because you can see the marks from flooding water and it’s crazy to see how high up the water got. The flooding this year was crazy!

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There have been a ton of butterflies out and about and my mom and I chased this one down the trail to get some pictures. Afton is also a great park for checking out birds. I almost always spot loons down at the river and there are usually some hawks swooping around too.

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I think that Afton is a great day trip spot. My mom and the rest of my family camped in a yurt there once during the winter and they had fun but I think I’d prefer going just during the day. It’s a pretty small park, at least compared to something like Itasca and like I mentioned earlier, I feel like the main draw is the river. And to be honest, I’m not a huge fan of water so it’s definitely not my main draw to the park. Plus if you stop in for a day trip, then you can head over to Stillwater, or across the river to Hudson and get food or just walk around. Both of those cities are really nice!

But it’s got relatively easy trails (the hike back up to the parking lot can be a bit of an effort just because it’s all uphill) that are simple to navigate.

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Hopefully I’ll be able to make it to another park before winter hits, but I think if not I’m ending off the year on a high note. This was a fun trip and the weather was absolutely perfect!

Throwback Thursday: Great River Bluffs State Park

Last summer my boyfriend and I had a lovely adventure to Great River Bluffs State Park.

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The trails were pretty easy, and a lot of it was shaded which was nice. The weather was gorgeous and the views were absolutely stunning.

One helpful tip! Check yourself for spiders before you leave the park! Because there may be a chance that you will have one crawling all over you and then your boyfriend will have to smash it with an almost full cup of coffee while you’re driving so that you don’t panic and drive off the road. (WHAT A FUN TIME).

Great River Bluffs is a beautiful park, small yet totally worth the trip!

Hope y’all enjoyed the pictures.