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.


Hike #: 14

Trail: Eastman Nature Center at Elm Creek

Location: Osseo, MN

Trail surface: dirt, wood chips, paved

Date: 9/9/18


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.


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: ★★★


Hikes that didn't make the cut...

Sometimes I go out for a walk that isn't quite enough to make my list, but has the potential if I had walked longer, or not been stopped by flooded trails and other obstacles. I thought it might be worth noting these from time to time as a lot of these are great places to explore.

Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden and Bird Sanctuary


The Eloise Butler Wildflower path is within Theodore Wirth Parkway. We've been here a number of times, but I think it's best to come in the spring when more flowers are in bloom. We went the day after our Interstate Park hike hoping to get in some more steps. It was another hot day so walking around this garden was perfect since there is a lot of shade. I'd hoped to continue on the trail outside the wildflower garden, but it was just too hot which made this 'hike' a little too short to make the list. Make sure to bring your bug spray and binoculars  - there are plenty of benches to stop and watch the birds at.


Hidden Falls Regional Park


Riley and I attempted to check out this park while Jesse was out of town. It was the first time I really used my AllTrails app and I was happy to have it. We initially followed a trail, but then was blocked by a huge tree that came down over a walking bridge. We doubled back and I studied the app where I was able to identify another trail… which actually brought us to the hidden falls. Not sure if I would have found it on my own. I’d love to go back to this area after the bridge is repaired to explore the rest of the trail that we weren’t able to get to. The only downside to this trail was that there were a ton of bird sized mosquitoes near the falls.


Minnehaha Creek Preserve


I’ve been back and forth about whether I would call this a hike or not. I did put in 2 miles worth of walking, but it’s in a very compressed area so it’s not like I felt I went very far. This path mostly consists of boardwalk next to Methodist hospital and across Louisiana Blvd connected by a paved path. It’s a little hidden gem situated near the hospital and industrial buildings. The birds are plentiful here and you might momentarily feel like you are farther out in the country if it wasn’t for the hum of the cars on the nearby roads and lawn mowers blaring away.


Bass Lake Preserve


This trail is 1.4 miles which is why it didn’t make the main list, but it’s near our house and one that we’ve walked many times. Bass lake once was actually a lake, but was drained and then used as a dump. It was followed by a movement to preserve the area in some way. It’s now a wetland, and while it might not live up to it’s original glory, it is a beautiful walk where we often see a variety of birds.


Purgatory Park


Purgatory Park has about 2.2 miles worth of trails, but we did the 1.2 mile loop off the parking lot. I really liked this trail, but it was sooo hot this day. The trail is well maintained, and lightly traveled (at least when we were there). When I originally set this hiking challenge, I thought I would be doing more hiking on the outskirts of Minnesota or backpacking, but I’ve found that it’s introduced me to all sorts of fantastic trails close to home.


Rankin Ridge Trail


We found this trail while driving around Wind Cave National Park in South Dakota. This trail was short and fairly easy, but was steep and had me huffing and puffing for a bit. We walked up the trail side to see the fire tower and the view and then walked down the service road just in time to miss the rain. We were able to see a bison snoozing in the grass on our way down which was a bonus you don’t have on every trail.


Sylvan Lake Trail


While on vacation in South Dakota, we took a walk around Sylvan Lake which is only about 1 mile. It does, however, have a number of trails that lead off of it so you could make it a much longer hike. While most of the path is paved, there are a lot of large rocks that you will be tempted to climb on so it’s still important to wear good sturdy shoes. We love this area so much that it’s our second time visiting as a family.


So I might not be getting in the big hikes, but we are still out walking and exploring the places around us and that’s what counts.

Hike 8 - Interstate State Park - Minnesota

When I mentioned my hiking goal to a co-worker she suggested Interstate State Park on the Minnesota side and suggested we explore the glacial potholes there. So, Jesse and I scheduled  a day trip over Memorial Day weekend to do so, but as the day neared, we sort of regretted our decision as it was going to be close to 100 that day and we don't deal well with heat. We'd also changed our day trip to an overnight camping trip so we felt fairly committed to this. We got up early, drove the hour there, and were hiking by 8:30. It was probably close to 80 degrees by that time, which is too hot for hiking in our opinion (50 - 65 is a good temp range). 

May 27th, 2018 Fuji-5.jpg

Hike #: 8

Trail: Interstate State Park

Location: Taylors Falls, MN

Trail Surface: Rocks, dirt

Date: 5/19/18

We wandered around the glacial potholes, climbing and exploring for awhile when Jesse turned to me and noted that I already looked like I was in the danger zone as my face was all red. My danger zone usually leads to a three day migraine so we both know the importance of steering clear of it. I drank some more water and poured some over the back of my head (which is more effective in cooling me down). I wasn't ready to give up so we followed the river trail ever so briefly and then headed back to the air conditioned truck after it was clear that Jesse and Riley were getting a bit crabby from the heat.

May 27th, 2018 Fuji-20.jpg

I'm a little embarrassed to count this as a hike as I don't think we quite met two miles, but Jesse assured me that this one counts due to the nature of the trail. We worked hard to get to this trail so we weren't about to let it not count. I would have liked to hike the entire loop before rating it as I'm certain Jesse and I would have rated it higher. I'd like to come back here some day, but I'm guessing we'll check out the Wisconsin side of this park the next time we head up that way. Either way, I like hiking along the St. Croix River.

Jo: ★★★

Jesse: ★★

Riley: ★★★★★

May 27th, 2018 Fuji-64.jpg

Check out my post about our day exploring the Taylors Falls area.