Hike 19 - Wolsfeld Woods Scientific Center

As I mentioned in my last post, there was a hike we attempted in May, but the trail was flooded so we came back in June. I was ok with that since Riley and I went on our own the first time and really wanted to bring Jesse back. Wolsfeld Woods one of those places I would have never found if not for this challenge. The trail head sits off a church parking lot about 20 minutes from home. The woods is named after the family that used to own it - while much of the land was used for farming, this section was kept as a maple syruping operation that continued from the 1880s into the 1940s. It’s now one of Minnesota’s scientific and nature centers.

Initially, Riley and I enjoyed the trail. It’s well shaded, and it would be the perfect fairy forest. Part of the trail is well maintained and other parts are in terrible shape. While we were able to find a way to get in 2 miles worth of walking, we weren’t able to complete the loop due to water. We decided to come back later in the summer with Jesse when it had dried out.

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Hike #: 18

Trail: Wolsfeld Woods Scientific Center

Location: Long Lake, MN

Trail surface: Dirt, rocks, leaves, mud

Date: 5/25/19 and 6/29/19

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When it wasn’t raining this summer, it was hot. I don’t do well hiking in the heat, but I thought this would be the perfect trail to explore in late June since it was so shaded. I was wrong. So very, very wrong. Between the water and the shade and the heat, this was mosquito central. I don’t think I’ve been swarmed by so many mosquitoes at one time. We were heavily covered in bug spray and put on multiple applications as we walked. Jesse finally just held the bug spray instead of putting it back into the back each time we were done with it. After the hike, we jumped in the car and cranked the AC on the way home - effectively sealing us into an area where I grew woozy with the smell of too much bug spray.

The upside is that we made our way around the loop and all agreed that this would likely be a wonderful trail in the fall (if they fixed/built bridges and cleaned up the trail some), but we were all a little scarred by the bug situation so we aren’t in any hurry to return. It’s a shame too as we all agreed that the trail has soooo much potential, but rating is based on our experience there.

Jo: ★

Jesse: 

Riley:

That’s right, there are no stars next to Jesse and Riley’s names, although after the May hike with just Riley and I, she was willing to give it a 2 at that time. This was definitely a trail of potential, but reality was that we were absolutely miserable. I would like to give it credit for all the trees and that it was very solitary (on each hike we briefly saw one other set of people). One day, we’ll go back in the fall if our memories of the bug attacks ever fade.

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 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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