Revisiting Schoolcraft State Park

Image is of a green hammock covered in black bug netting hung between two trees. The ground below the hammock is covered in pine needles. There is the front of a car in the background.

#20 of my 52 Hike Challenge

Trail/Park: Schoolcraft State Park, Grand Rapids, MN

I want to acknowledge this hike took place on the traditional territory of the Mdewakanton, Anishinabewaki ᐊᓂᔑᓈᐯᐗᑭ and Očhéthi Šakówiŋ. To learn more about the tribes and these lands, please follow the links provided.

After two days of learning I was off again for more adventure. Including the fun of needing to find a place to camp for the night. When I’d booked my camping reservations, I’d assumed my time at Camp Hiawatha would include the evening after class. Instead, with a noon completion of the class, I had the opportunity to camp with no plan. I’d surveyed the class members for suggestions as well as consulting my gazetteer. As I was looking at the gazatteer, I noticed the proximity of Schoolcraft State Park. I’d stayed and hiked in the park back in 2018 on my road trip to northwestern Minnesota. Making a return trip seemed the thing for me instead of seeking out an alternate place in a state forest.

I headed toward the park, knowing it has no park office. Instead it has only a kiosk to pay fees, buy locally cut wood and get information on the park. I also knew I’d need to drive the campground to pick a site before paying. I took a spin through the campsites, chose the one I thought would be a good fit for this visit and paid my fees. Only as I’d dropped my payment envelope into the kiosk box, did I think of checking the DNR website to see if the site I’d selected was reserved for the night. A quick search told me that, yes, I’d need to take the site adjacent instead. I left a note for the park rangers of the change.

Back at the site, I set up my hammock. The campground was nearly empty so I’d have a relaxing evening despite the heat. I kicked back in my hammock, read for a bit, sketched and looked over my route for the following day. After dinner I took a walk around the campground and over to the picnic area and boat launch.

The late afternoon was hot as I settled in on the dock next to the boat launch. A breeze kept bugs at bay while providing just enough cooling to take the edge off the heat. I sat for quite awhile watching the Mississippi River flow by. Birds came and went. An eagle soared overhead and then a heron. I relished the solitude.

Walking back through the campground I came upon a turtle sitting on the dirt road. Gently I approached and moved it to the area just off the road. Earlier I’d seen one that had been crushed so I hoped this would offer this little one a better chance at surviving. As I rounded the last turn toward my campsite, I stopped to talk to a couple who were camping a few sites down. We shared stories of the parks we’d visited and traded our favorites.

Back at my campsite, I made my dinner and cleaned up. My sketchbook and pastels – a new experiment in creativity – came out. I journaled about the past few days. Before long I headed to my hammock only reluctantly putting the tarp up in case of rain (which turned out to be a good choice with a midnight shower coming along). Drifting off to sleep I tried to enjoy the simplicity of my slowed down pace, knowing the next day I’d be driving a lot of miles as I neared the end of this hiking adventure.

Next Post Preview: Red everywhere and one of the most beautiful lake views I’ve seen yet await along with checking out a park meant for mountain biking on foot.

GEAR: Merrell Women’s Siren 3 Mid Waterproof, REI Co-op XeroDry GTX Jacket, Marmot Kompressor Pack, SPOT GEN3 Satellite GPS Messenger, Dueter Dirtbag, Kula Cloth, Leki Women’s Micro Vario Cor-Tec TA trekking poles, ENO DoubleNest Hammock with Atlas Straps, Guardian Bug Net and Pro Rainfly, Paria Thermodown 30 down quilt, REI Flash 3-Season Sleeping Pad, Thermarest Z Seat™, MSR Pocket Rocket Stove, GSI Pinnacle Dualist Cookset, MSR® IsoPro™ Fuel. Want to know more about my gear selections? Head on over to Gear & Gadgets or check out my posts titled “Gear in Review”.


Photo of a group of hikers on a sunny day in a field heading towards a wooded area. The photographer has taken the photo from behind the group.

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