Thursday, June 6, 2013

Split Rock Creek State Park: May 25th, 2013

This is the first of a series of Big Trip Big Fun posts for the MN --> SD --> CO --> NE --> MN trip from which Joe and I just returned.  I'm still tired from all the travel (and getting caught up at work), and I'm a bit overwhelmed by all of the posts that I need to write.  Better jump right in!

Split Rock Creek State Park is the reason why I have to remember to put the "lighthouse" in Split Rock Lighthouse State Park.  I suppose it doesn't really matter...Split Rock Creek is in the far southwest corner of the state, and Split Rock Lighthouse is in the far northeast.  And I only live by one of them.  I'm glad to say that I live by the more interesting of the two!

The Hiking Club trail is 2.6 miles long.  It starts out by the lake - pretty lake - and goes right through the campground.  I felt a little bit weird walking through inhabited campsites.  Most of the trail was a six-foot-wide path mowed through the grass.  Welcome to the prairie!

Where is the Hiking Club Trail...oh, there it is.  On the fairway?

This appears to be a good birdwatching park, though.  We saw Baltimore Orioles, Redwing Blackbirds, Robins, Catbirds, Flickers, Golden Warblers, Hairy Woodpeckers, Goldfinches...we also saw rabbits everywhere.  Too bad Thunderdog was at Doggie Camp, she would have loved this hike!  We also saw evidence of beavers on the trail, but no actual beavers.  Joe wondered how beavers were able to move such big trees across land.  It'd be great to see them in action some day.

Beavers were here

 Split Rock Creek State Park is very much a local park.  Not a lot to draw visitors from around far away, but it seemed like a good destination for camping and fishing folks from the region.  We arrived on Saturday of Memorial Day weekend, and the campground was packed!  Lots of people sitting in their winter coats around campfires in the mid-afternoon, because we continue to endure this Year Without A Summer in Minnesota.

Minnesota State Park Hiking Club Trails: now featuring laundry!

Just when we thought that we'd missed the Hiking Club Password sign, we discovered that the trail went over a neat dam and around the other side of the lake.  That's where we found the sign - and the dam was worth a look too.  I'd never seen construction quite like this before.  The stair-steps created a unique, beautiful cascading waterfall.  Pictures don't quite do it justice.  Who would have created such a thing?

Very, very cool dam 

Ah yes, the Works Progress Administration!  My favorite depression-era work program, again.  I suppose the plaque is proof that they built the bridge, not the dam...but I'm pretty sure the dam was built by them as well.

Split Rock Creek State Park: a nice place for a 2.6 mile hike in the middle of a very long car drive.

Created by my favorite fellows, the WPA!

Total miles hiked today: 2.6
Total miles hiked in 2013: 15.8
Total Superior Hiking Trail miles hiked in 2013: 6.8
Total ticks today: 1
Total ticks in 2013: 3

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