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.


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.


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: ★★★★


Hike 1 - Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve Park

Before I set my 50 hikes by 50 goal, I already had hiking on my brain. My husband, daughter and I were vacationing in San Diego over my 46th birthday and while we did a ton of walking when visiting the zoo, Seaworld, Old Town, Balboa Park, the seals in La Jolla, beaches, and so forth, I wanted to go on a good ol' hike. I gathered suggestions from friends and pretty much everyone suggested Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve Park in La Jolla. 

Hike #: 1

Trail: Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve Park

Location: La Jolla, CA

Trail surface: dirt, and rock and shells on the beach

Date: 1/27/18

Torrey Pines has a number of shorter trails which seems like a good idea when hiking with a kid. We are still testing our limits with her and understand this can change from day to day as well. We started out at the beach near the south beach parking lot - mostly I'll admit, because the light was amazing and I wanted to get some photos. Plus, my kid could spend all day running from waves and throwing rocks into the ocean.

San Diego 2017-587.jpg

From the beach we headed up the trail along Torrey Pines Park Rd. It was a hotter than usual southern California January day and we felt it along this stretch of little shade and constant incline. I was tempted to turn around at some point, not really knowing what we'd find at the top, but mostly because I thought my kid was having a hard time. There was whining, but in the end she was fine and it was worth trudging forward. 

San Diego 2017-739.jpg

We explored a couple of the shorter trails, the information booth (Riley liked taking the different animal prints they had and marking them in the dirt), and then found a map and determined we'd take a trail that brought us back down the beach (with a little detour in the middle) and eventually loop us back to the other end of the beach where we started.

San Diego 2017-735.jpg

I liked this hike and would go back to explore it in more detail. We mostly had the beach to ourselves when we started out, but the trails thickened up fast and there were a few annoying people who decided to play music on their phones for all to hear. This is not good trail etiquette, people! It was a little urban for Jesse and I would have liked more tree cover, but still a great place to hike. It was especially nice to explore a terrain that is so different than what we are used to in Minnesota.

On a 1 - 5 scale...

Jo: ★★★★

Jesse: ★★★★

Riley: ★★★★★