Hike 16 - Eagle Mountain

Jesse, Riley and l had a number of days off in October and we debated on how to use those. At one point, we were going to do a family activity, but in the end Jesse and I decided to do a bigger hike so we left Riley with her grandparents and headed up to the North Shore. I really wanted to hike Bean and Bear Lake, but the weather forecast didn’t look great for a backpacking camping experience. So we changed our plans to hike Eagle Mountain on our first day since it would be nice and then decided to play it by ear for the next day when it was supposed to be really cold.

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Hike #: 16

Trail: Eagle Mountain

Location: West Cook, MN

Trail surface: Dirt, rocks, tree roots, wood over marshy areas, rocks, rocks, rocks…

Date: 10/19/18

Note: The trail is partly within the Boundary Waters and you can grab a permit at the trail head.

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Eagle Mountain is the highest point in MN at 2301 feet. While that’s not incredibly high compared to high points in other states, I was still a bit concerned as I don’t do great with climbing up. However, most of the trail is fairly flat - or rolling and it’s only the last bit of trail that ascends up the mountain.

It still kicked my butt.

The trail is mostly rock and tree roots which means that you are hiking mostly head down to make sure you don’t land on your ankle (I still did twice, but was fine).

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This was Jesse’s third time hiking this trail and he noted that doing it in the winter was the easiest and I totally see why. Walking over rocks and tree roots constantly did a number on my knees (between that and the bitter cold the next day we didn’t get in another hike). The trail also could have used some maintenance… the water level was high and with the help of some beavers, the water overflowed over wooden planks which meant we had to take our shoes off to walk through part of the creek. I didn’t really mind though as it was all part of the adventure. The North Shore trails are what really feel like hiking trails to us, and the only reason we didn’t give this one a 5 star was because the trail surface is killer. I was surprised to see young to old complete this trail.

Jo: ★★★★

Jesse: ★★★★

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Hike - 15 - Big Willow Park

I’ve driven past these ballparks in Minnetonka so many times and had no idea that there were a bunch of trails behind them until my neighbor mentioned that it was a favorite place of hers. I finally gathered up my family one day after an especially lazy morning and we headed over to check it out.

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Hike #: 15

Trail: Big Willow Park

Location: Minnetonka, MN

Trail surface: Crushed rock, dirt

Date: 9/30/18

Big Willow really was a huge surprise. I expected paved trails around the sports field, and that’s about it, but in reality it was like walking in the forest along a creek bed. There were a number of short off shoot trails that brought you back to the main trail as well which was nice.

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Perhaps because our expectations were low we ended up all really liking this trail, but I think it’s a great near the city trail. It was clean, and near our house which is a bonus, but we’ve found that we tend to like trails that feel more like you are in the middle of the woods and this one fit that very much.

Jo: ★★★★

Jesse: ★★★★

Riley: ★★★★

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Hike 14 - Eastman Nature Center at Elm Creek

Part of the fun of this challenge is exploring new places. I often narrow it down to a few different options and then Jesse and Riley weigh in on their opinion. Riley had the final say on this one and I think she made a good choice.

The path near the Eastman Nature Center is in the Elm Creek park which has a ton of trails, a great play area and a swimming pond. The nature center wasn’t open when we were there, but I’d love to go back and check it out some day.

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Hike #: 14

Trail: Eastman Nature Center at Elm Creek

Location: Osseo, MN

Trail surface: dirt, wood chips, paved

Date: 9/9/18

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Our favorite part of this trail was the one covered in trees with a dirt path as it reminded us of hiking in the forest up north, but the paved area was beautiful as well. There were some signs, but like many other trails we’ve been on this year, there could have been more or they could have been clearer. Again, the AllTrails app came to the rescue to keep us on our intended path.

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In all honesty, I had to remind Jesse about this trail as he said he remembered the parking lot more than the trail. I don’t think that says anything against the trail, but he still only rated it a 2. I thought it was a nice trail and well groomed.

Jo: ★★★

Jesse: ★★

Riley: ★★★

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