Deciding What Trail to Take

#42hike of my 52 Hike Challenge

I needed to get outside. A beautiful day lay ahead. But I wasn’t in my usual mode of being willing to travel an hour or so to get to hike. I have some go-to parks within a 30 minute drive. Nearly every one is west of my house. I wasn’t in the mood. I needed something new, something different.

What to do? Then it hit me. Look a bit closer to home in one of the regional parks. Maybe St. Paul would have something. After all there was that hike that I met Ami on over at Reservoir Woods. She was new to Women Who Hike and Minnesota. She’d picked it because it wasn’t too far for her that day. It is gem. There must be more like that one.

Then I was reminded of a hike my pal Liz and her husband took me on near Mendota Heights a while back. We spent a few hours on a fall afternoon exploring a park somewhere that I didn’t keep track of the location.

So I headed onto the great Google and typed in “Ramsey County Parks“. As I scrolled through the list one stood out – Battle Creek Regional Park. The park sits along the east side of the Mississippi River on the border of St. Paul and Maplewood. An area I’d not explored before. Perfect! About 15 minutes later I was on the road because my day pack is always ready to go – I just add water and snacks and I’m off.

I’d recommend heading to the trail nearest the Dog Park in the eastern area of the park. Most of the west side is mountain bike trails and from the cars and cyclists I saw at the parking area it’s a heavily used trail which makes hiking there a dangerous proposition.

The entrance to the hiking trails is just to the left of the dog park from the parking lot. Hikers start on paved trail, but throughout the park you can take long side trails that are used for cross country skiing in the winter. They are wide, mostly shaded and have a nice mix of flat and hilly terrain. The park is well used, but I had many times where it was just me on the trail.

The day made me think about all the times I’ve been told women shouldn’t hike alone. I’m working on a future post about that, but I reveled in the day and the fact that I’m really ok hiking alone. I’m ok picking a place I’ve never been before and checking it out. Don’t get me wrong, I do a bit of research before I go, I let someone know where I’m going, I carry my 10 essentials no matter if I’m in a city park or on a remote trail. I also get to go at my own pace. I can take photos and even get to have lunch sitting in the middle of the trail if I want to (which I did!).

I noticed the sumac are starting to change to red, which was a reminder that fall is on the doorstep here in Minnesota. I found a huge cluster of mushrooms of a kind I’ve never seen before. They looked like a gigantic orange cabbage. I crossed a small creek. I had views that were vibrant with purple and yellow flowers.

I also spent more time than I’d have liked picking up trash. Most of it near the various trailheads. It surprised me how few garbage recepticals there were when I needed to empty my Dueter Dirtbag. Something for the park to work on. I was grateful for the beauty of the park so picking some trash up wasn’t that hard. And I found a cute reminder to “Be Active. Be Green!” in a toy dinosaur on one of the park’s many benches.

If you’re in Minnesota and looking for an alternative to a state park, I’d encourage you to do web search for city or county parks near where you are. You might be surprised what’s in your backyard like I was.

Next Post Preview:  I’ll be looking back at my latest trip to the North Shore of Minnesota. There will be hiking. You can count on it!

Copyright Ruth Wikoff-Jones, | No Use Permitted Without Prior Permission

2 thoughts on “Deciding What Trail to Take

  1. I get the ‘women shouldn’t hike alone’ comment over here too. And it is incredibly rare to spot a Taiwanese female solo hiker, (I have probably seen less than 30 in my time here in comparison to the thousands of solo male hikers). In fact it is even a thing for groups of middle aged women to arrange to have a male guide (who may or may not be experienced in what he is doing), to accompany them. It still astounds me given that Taiwan is probably the safest place I have ever been to.

    Good to see other people out and feeling at home with the outdoors.

    1. Thanks for the read! Interesting how we take this for granted in many places, while in other countries it’s still uncommon for women to be alone on trail. I’m looking forward to reading your blog too!

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