Summer Adventure : Old Park, New Trail, New Companions

#26 of my 2022 52 Hike Challenge

Trail/Park: Wheaton Lake Loop, Lebanon Hills Regional Park

This hike took place on the traditional territory of the Očhéthi Šakówiŋ and Wahpekute. I respect the histories, languages and cultures of these peoples, whose presence continues to enrich our vibrant and changing communities. Join me in learning more about the tribes and these lands, by following the links provided.

Trash Collected: 0.2 pounds

A last minute decision to post a hike to the Women Who Hike MN group provided me an opportunity to hike with new and familiar faces. We also were able to visit a part of Lebanon Hills Regional Park which I had not explored. The Wheaton Lake Loop was on my AllTrails list of hikes which I hadn’t completed so I took the day as an opportunity to try another new trail. I was joined by two ladies from Women Who Hike.

Our first challenge was determining how to get from the Jensen Lake trailhead to the Wheaton Pond Loop on the west side of the park. While the map indicated we could cross over (or under) Pilot Knob Road, in practice this wasn’t as clear. Pilot Knob Road is a busy thru-way and the intersection of trail and road has no traffic control. Taking my best assumption we looked a bit harder and found a trail sign which then revealed an underpass which would safely get us to the other side without requiring the excitement of dogging traffic.

While the trail is wide, it was also obvious it’s not as well traveled as the trails which wrap around Jensen Lake. The trail starts with loose rock as it descends toward the lake. My companions and I fell into easy conversation fueled by discussion of gear and then our hiking adventures. We had the trail to ourselves and were continually surprised by beautiful vistas. Before we knew it we’d circled Wheaton Pond.

We agreed we wanted to hike further so we opted for a section of hiking through the park’s campground. I was unaware the park had a campground so I peeked into the empty campsites, making a mental note this would make a fantastic place to get a night of camping in when traveling any distance might be an issue. A little misread of the maps took us a bit off track before we found our way to the Gerhardt Lake trail which would loop back toward the Jensen Lake Trailhead.

The last section offered a bit more in the way of hills to get us primed for the last stretch uphill and through the underpass back to our starting point. As we said our goodbyes, I reflected on how the last minute decision to look for hiking companions made sharing the trail all the sweeter. We had seen turtles, frogs and even a garter snake. We had experienced a less used trail and shared wonderful conversation. All the reasons I’d joined Women Who Hike in the first place.

Next Post Preview: Exploring a trail I’d heard about with river views in the Richard J. Dorer Memorial Hardwood State Forest.

GEAR: Marmot Kompressor Pack, Vasque Ultra Dry Waterproof Hiking Boot, SPOT GEN3 Satellite GPS Messenger,
Dueter Dirtbag, Kula Cloth, Leki Women’s Micro Vario Cor-Tec TA trekking poles.

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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