Baylor Regional Park

My first proper hike in Minnesota, now that everything is settling into place. There will be more of these, more miles on legs and ground. Aiming for 50 miles a month. We’ll see. Baylor had wide paths, maple trees providing shade in today’s 90 degrees.

Circle routes bring you back to the same points, so I break into the woods for a bit run through the old and new trees. The bugs seem to be dying down now that August has rolled in. I still look forward to November bushwacking.

It is too hot to rest in the pines and the hardwoods, but I try anyway, look the tree tops and try to sleep, but not this time. I start to walk the floating boardwalk through the Marsh, drag my hand occasionally through the green blanketed water. The cool water of Eagle Lake awaits.

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Riley Woods

In my little town of Eden Prairie, there rests the Riley Woods. A conservation park, some of which hugging Riley Creek and eventually leading to Riley Lake. Finally, an awesome day – sunny and 70s, and finally all settled after moving to Minnesota. So I can get back to regular hikes, bikes and runs.

Today, no one but the creek making sounds. There is evidence of activity: deer tracks, ripples in the greened-over pond, rabbit fur tucked into the fallen wood.

I leave the trails for pieces, and search through the fallen woods. Seeing life rebuild itself, jump to the sounds of another crashing, everything continuing, ending and starting.

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Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

Family trip to the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum to start walking around the place. and a rough attempt to try to recall some of the wildflowers and plants of the area. This was our first time here since we moved here, and it is pretty darn big – something that would take a full day to walk and enjoy.

We stick with a short walk, flowers and fountains before searching out the in-construction clay/dirt house. Each of us were able to grab some mud, pound some sandbags, etc in order to do our little part. On the way back, chipmunks and a hummingbird seated and resting, pointing his needlebeak toward the sun. I see flowers that will fit in the holes of my garden. My favorite still the field coneflowers in all different varieties.

I have a map, and a look of all the trails. There will be many hikes here in sun and snow. Watching the beauty hide itself, get stronger, waiting for spring.


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Natural Bridge State Park

The Natural Bridge State Park has been n our list for a while. A short hike, some climbing to the top, some pretending we were cavemen eating our cavemen picnic food. A nice little lesson in poison ivy, and then a nice trip home through the farmland.

Natural Bridge State Park is an 530-acre Wisconsin state park featuring the largest natural arch in the state. Directly beneath the arch is a rock shelter once used by Paleo-Indians. The park is located southwest of Baraboo between the unincorporated communities of Leland and Denzer, in the town of Honey Creek. The park is on the edge of the Baraboo Range in an unglaciated Driftless Area of south-central Wisconsin. Outcrops of sandstone deposited 1.6 billion years ago jut out of the tops of these hills.

An archaeological excavation of the rock shelter was conducted in 1957 by Warren L. Wittry of the Wisconsin Historical Society. His team found evidence of human use over a long time period. The remains of 50 vertebrate and 15 mollusc species were identified. The oldest artifacts were pieces of charred wood, presumably from fire pits, which were dated to between 9000 and 8000 BCE. This would make the rock shelter “one of the oldest dated sites for human occupancy in northeastern North America,” according to a sign in the park.

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Ice Age Trail, Hike-a-thon on National Trails Day

To celebrate National Trails Day, as well as to commemorate my final days in Wisconsin, I agreed to a 20+ mile hike along the Ice Age Trail. From Brooklyn State Wildlife Area to the Ice Age Junction Area (off McKee Rd), I traversed the edges of the last ice age.

The Ice Age Scenic Trail is a 1,000 mile path within the state of Wisconsin that highlights the glacial ice flow that sculpted a landscape across the state about 12,000 years ago. As the colossal glacier retreated, it left behind a variety of unique landscape features. These Ice Age remnants are now considered among the world’s finest examples of how continental glaciation sculpts our planet.

To be honest, I was a bit nervous at first. I had been years since I had completed a “long” hike like this. My wife and I did a 75 miler on the Appalachian Trail (West Virginia and Maryland) and I did a 50 miler in Escondido’s Daley Ranch. Both of which were spread out over multiple days. In turn, I am not the best “hiker” – I am a stroller, a wanderer, I like to get off the trail and look around. On this hike, I did so 4-5 times and had to pay the price to run and catch up to within sight of the group. As usual, I also came out with some cuts, some bugs, etc.

The hike was cool and sad as the miles went. There were some new places that I had never been which were cool to see, and other spots that I remembered from previous hikes which were sad to leave behind again. Special places that probably only mean something to me: Bridge 32, the Badger State Trail rock cliffs, alot of the geocache hides along the way (picked up three more during this hike).

As with any long hike, there was uncomfort and a bit of pain. I thought I would be able to fall and roll to the end. But once there, I remembered how good it felt to just lay in the grass, tired and sore, with a beer in my hand.

Thanks to all of the Ice Age Trail folks who volunteered to lead and support this event, as well as to the other 30ish folks who supported the Ice Age trail with 20+ miles on their legs. Here are some of the trail photos I took along the way …

Brooklyn State Wildlife Area


Montrose Segment


Badgers State Trail

Prairie Moraine Park


Verona Segment


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My path today: Donald Park

I first went through these paths last summer, long paths and some climbing up the old rocks. Balancing on cliffs and examing the cracks of rock, looking for …. well, just looking. Plenty of poison ivy, plenty of ticks, shotgun shots in the distance. I will miss this part of the country.

Up Donald Rock, not very strenuous or worrisome at first, but once on top, I creep to the edges closer and closer, one false step. No phone service, no more water or food. Well, I have my journal at least. Here, I also search around the rock, press myself into the cracks, rest in the mini caves with my small lunch.

Donald Rock and the other local rock formations in this park are between 20 and 30,000 years old. This area was not affected by the last glaciers and over time these outcrops were formed by many years of wind and water erosion.

Forego the trail on the way back and trust my own skills. Spring forest will make you pay for such things.

I take the country roads home, visit the old cemeteries. I like the history of such things with plenty of sadness as I walk through.

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My path today: Pope Farm Park

Went for a short run around Pope Farm Park this afternoon. A few miles to see the park in Spring. This has been the park I have visited most in the West-Madison area – the park of moraines and ice rocks, glacial leftovers a short distance from the driftless area.

Yes, it does not look like much, maybe more farm than park, but I like it that way.

We are about 60 days away from leaving Wisconsin, continuing the family adventure to Minnesota. Bittersweet, but the number of lakes and parks make it a bit easier, plus, the first park I went to had a 50-mile trail to start with!


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