On Saturday (30 March) I was on a time schedule, I had to meet a friend in Hinckley mid afternoon. I had Wild River State Park on my “to do” list last year, that didn’t happen and so I was pretty determined to hike it this Spring.
The weather was crystal clear blue sky, temperature in the low 30s F with a wind chill of low 20s F. That didn’t stop me from hiking. After layering my clothes, I headed North to North Branch, Minnesota.
I have never driven highway nine before and was surprised at the size of some of the farms along that road. It is always fun for me to experience a new part of Minnesota.
As I got closer to the Park I had to turn North in Almelund. I almost got the feeling I was on the wrong road. It seemed pretty remote, no traffic, very little besides the occasional farm. I drove three miles, the road ended at Wild River State Park entrance.
I stopped at the visitor center where they were producing maple syrup. I have seen the maple trees tapped before but it was interesting to see the cooking process. I talked to the volunteers who were watching the cook down by keeping the wood stove fueled.
The visitor center has a wonderful deck overlooking the St Croix River Valley. Without the leaves on the trees you can see far down the St Croix River. The sun was wonderful on the deck and I sat and soaked it in for awhile.
This State Park hosts a variety of terrains. The bluffs have a wonderful grassland that on Saturday held migrating blue birds. The bright blue males popped out of the brown backgrounds of tall grasslands.
The real reason for stopping at this park was to check out future kayak/canoe possibilities. Currently the road is blocked due to Spring flooding on the St Croix River.
I hiked the short trail leading into the river valley at the site of the old Nevers Dam.
The trail is an old hand built dam that crossed the St Croix River in order to control the flow of pine logs down the river. Built in the late 1800’s it saw the millions of board feet of timber pass down river to the saw mills located at Marine in St Croix and Stillwater.
The long dike trail is high and is a great place this time of year to see wood ducks and geese that are swimming in the marsh’s created by the St Croix River overflow.
When I got to the end of the trail there is a wonderfully built deck that looks over the river. On that day I could see chunks of ice floating past as the Spring melt cleaned the landscape further upriver.
I would recommend this out of the way park and its remote trails to anyone wanting to escape the Twin Cities for the day.
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