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.


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


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: ★



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.

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 11 - Minnehaha Regional Park

I was fairly certain we weren't going to go hiking during the month of July. I had looked at the monthly forecast and it was pretty much high 80's for the entire month. I don't function well hiking in the heat, but Jesse suggested we find a place to hike this day and I agreed as long as we went early in the morning.

I selected to hike along Minnehaha Falls Creek since it is somewhat close to our house and I'd been wanting to show Jesse this trail. He's been to the falls many times, but hadn't explored very far down the creek.

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Hike #: 11

Trail: Minnehaha Regional Park

Location: Minneapolis, MN

Trail surface: paved, dirt, crushed stone, boardwalk, paved (there are a lot of paved trails at this park, but we did not take those on this hike - also a great area for biking).

Date: 7/5/18

We started out at the falls and headed down the west side of the creek towards the Mississippi. I'd done this hike some years ago on a photo walk and then took Riley last year, but always wanted to bring Jesse on this hike as well. The west side trail is a little more varied as it's crushed rock, boardwalk, and dirt and tree roots. You hike past several walking bridges and eventually come to the sandstone bluffs and then the Mississippi River. It's a lush and beautiful area, but has been tarnished by vandalism - the worst was seeing trees that were spray painted with peace signs and such. Why do people feel like they need to do that?

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There is normally a beach along the Mississippi, but the water level is really high right now so the beach from the walking bridge on was totally engulfed with water. In the past, we'd walk down the beach to a large concrete drain area (not sure what else to call it) to check out the graffiti, but we skipped it this time. I love this hike because it does have a bit of a rugged feel to it, but it's clearly an urban path. What I don't like is that people leave garbage everywhere - especially along the beach area. I get the feeling that people live here as well. Lets just say that this is not a beach area that I would let my kid take her shoes off and run around on.

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Luckily, someone piled some rocks in the water which allowed us to get to the bridge and take the trail on the east side of the creek. This trail is a well maintained, wide, crushed stone path that heads back towards the first bridge we came across... which is also a popular spot for families to splash around in the creek. 

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We always come to this park early because it can get busy fast (I'd suggest going before 10 to get a decent parking spot). Besides trails and the falls, there is a restaurant, playgrounds, bike rentals, and lots of picnic areas - an overall great park to explore. 

Jo: ★★★

Jesse: ★★

Riley: ★★★★★

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*pictures were taken with either the Lensbaby edge 50 or the Sigma 14 mm.