We went to the Lake County Demonstration Forest, about ten miles north and west of Two Harbors. Unfortunately, I forgot my phone (which is my camera). Bah! I did have such a good time that I plan on going back out there Friday, weather permitting.
The Demonstration Forest is a 400-acre "school forest". Inconspicuous posts with numbers on them refer to the very well-designed free pamphlets that one finds at the trailhead. The pamphlets give suggestions for things to observe: two marked trees, one Norway and one White Pine; an old beaver dam, the working face of an old borrow pit. Most of the posts were so well-hidden that I missed them, but I enjoyed the ones that I found.
There are four main trails in the Demonstration Forest. I took the Orange and the Blue trails, saving the Red and Green trails for another day. The Orange trail goes through a wonderful pine forest. It was silent: no wind, no animals, no sounds of humans. The ground was coated with orangey gold pine needles. The trees loomed overhead: it felt like the sort of place that fairies once lived. The Blue trail looped down towards a babbling creek - the start of Knife River. It was still partially frozen; it was covered in the hard crust of ice and snow that is usually the last to remain before finally washing away with the spring. Thunderdog enjoyed the opportunity to run around on the snow, chomping at it.
One other neat thing: it turns out that 1.2 of the Demonstration Forest miles are actually a spur of the Superior Hiking Trail. This is another part of the Duluth-Two Harbors section that is currently being constructed; of which I have virtually no knowledge. It is becoming clear to me that my Superior Hiking Trail Guide (5th edition, 2007) is too out of date. Luckily, the SHT headquarters is right in Two Harbors. I will stop by tomorrow and pick up a current edition.
I hope to return on Friday - WITH MY CAMERA - and cover all four trails. These two took about an hour of dawdling to hike in their entirety.
Total miles hiked today: 2.5
Total miles hiked (in 2012): 12.8