Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Minneopa State Park: June 23, 2012

What a day!  After visiting Hermann the German and doing the Flandreau State Park Hiking Club Trail, Joe and I headed to Minneopa State Park for one more hike.  Minneopa is only about 20 minutes from Flandreau, so it made sense to try and knock two off on the same day.  No problem!  Especially on such a beautiful day.

Minneopa State Park is divided into two sections.  The first one we went to - purely by chance - was the one that had the waterfall and the old WPA building.  I could have titled this blog "Visiting Every Waterfall In Minnesota in 2012", but "Tales of the Witch of November has a nicer ring to it, right?

Two falls: one behind the bridge, and the tall one in front of it.

The Waterfall side of the park had a little Nature Center in the old WPA building.  The bricks of the building were of this neat light colored stone - local limestone, I guess.  The Nature Center was a simple, single room with a few exhibits about the park.  I was excited to see an exhibit about native prairie grasses: would I finally get to see my prairie??

Little nature center made of local stone

Hurrah!  We found the prairie!  Waving grasses, birds chirping and hopping in the brush, blue blue endless sky, and a blazing June sun.  I was glad that we both remembered to bring our hats.

Little Joe on the Prairie

Another feature of Minneopa State Park is the big old boulders.  They were left behind as the glaciers receded after the last ice age.  These "glacial erratics" proved to be much fun for our Hermann the German wannabe.

"Elly Vortex, give me back my legions!"

The Hiking Club Trail is a long oblong loop.  We started at the west end and headed back towards the picnic area through the prairie.  The way back west is through the edge of the forest - which was kind of nice, because the sun was getting kind of warm.  The Minnesota River was somewhere in the valley below, but it was too far away for us to see.  By the time we got back to the car, we decided to skip the "bonus hike" to the old Seppman Mill, and instead enjoy the air conditioned car as we drove the mile or so out there.

The Seppman Mill, made of the same stone as the WPA Nature Center building.

The Seppman Mill was built in the 1860's, and it used to have big huge windmill blades on it.  They were damaged several times over the windmill's 150-year history, so they have been removed.  Joe and I thought that it would be neat for the DNR to put them back up, but it would probably just invite trouble.  We wondered what all of the doors were for - the doors on the ground make sense, but what about the upper doors?  Well, it turns out that this building had five storeys.  Some of the floors were really short and only held machinery, but it was technically a five-storey building.  Practically a skyscraper in 1860's terms!

Minneopa was a neat park.  It was small, so I feel that we really did "see it all" by doing the Hiking Club Trail and viewing the waterfall.  I wouldn't drive all the way to Mankato to visit it again, but if I happened to be in town, I'd stop in for a quick nature break.  I wouldn't mind visiting it in the winter - they groom the trails for XC skiing and you can snowshoe everywhere - and they allow dogsleds on the road out to the mill!  I wonder if Thunderdog would consider being hooked up to a sled...

Total miles hiked today: 2.7 miles at Minneopa
Total miles hiked (in 2012): 61.7
Total ticks today: Joe - 0; Thunderdog - 0; Elly - 0
Total ticks (in 2012): 45


  1. We visited both these parks as part of our week-long trip two years ago. I felt the same way about Flandreau...very strange to be in the middle of a town. I liked the falls at Minneopa, though! Can't wait to see what comes next for you! We are heading on our week-long trip next week, this year up to the NW part of the state, right along the Canadian Border. I'm hoping for cooler weather up there than predicted down here!

    1. I dunno Mandy, I think that you'll run into hot weather up there...are you going to hit some of the parks up there? Lake Bronson, Zippel Bay, Hayes Lake? The common feature of all of them seem to be LAKES...good if it really does turn out to be a scorcher. But I am hoping for nice weather for you guys :-)