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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Hike 13 - Osprey Trail

There are so many places to hike in the Black Hills, and there were a number I wanted to try, but wasn’t sure my 8 year old would be up to hiking that far. Plus, I felt like I was dragging energy wise all week, but it was important to me to get in one more hike before we left South Dakota.

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I originally planned to hike the Osprey trail the day we camped at Pactola Lake since this trail is right next to the campsite, but rain delayed this plan until later. This trail has a couple loops and another short trail we accidentally wandered down to make it about a 2.5 mile hike.

Hike #: 13

Trail: Osprey Trail

Location: Near Rapid City, South Dakota

Trail surface:

Date: 8/29/18

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It was a warm day so it was nice to have shade, but there are plenty of open areas with full sun so you’ll want to make sure you have a hat and sunscreen. The trail was sometimes hard to find so I was grateful to be using the AllTrails app again to help us find one of the trail heads. As a side note, this app allows you to record your hike and gives you stats such as what your average time per mile was. Wish I discovered this earlier.

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We saw a couple people on this trail, but for the most part we had it to ourselves which wins huge points for us. Also, having shade earns it points and it had a pretty view of the lake.

Jo: ★★★★

Jesse: ★★★

Riley: ★★

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