Sunday, August 25, 2013

Interstate State Park: August 18th, 2013

Good grief, I need to get this post done before I forget everything that happened at Interstate.  The last week has been just crazy - I'm coordinating a renovation at work and I've been putting in some very long days.  No time for hiking, or for writing about hiking!

Interstate State Park is located in Taylor's Falls on the Minnesota side.  There's more park on the other side of the St. Croix (hence Interstate) but we didn't investigate the Wisconsin side.  There was plenty to see in our own fair state.  The Hiking Club trail is an out-and-back along the River Trail, so we decided to make things interesting and take a loop instead (making sure we followed the River Trail on the way back, so that we could get the password).  Joe suggested taking the Railroad Trail...of course.  I agreed.  Trails on former railbeds are usually pretty flat.  Nice easy hike, eh?  Not quite!

The first thing we had to do was cross the Highway.  The park very thoughtfully built a tunnel so that we didn't have to run out into traffic.  However, the tunnel was creepy as hell.  It is only about 6 feet high, so Joe had to crouch the whole way.  And in the corners of the walls and ceiling...hundreds of spiders had built nests.  Joe ran screaming through the tunnel with his shirt up over his head*.  I followed close behind, not wishing to get a spider in my hair.

Entering Shelob's Lair

Once we safely made it to the other side, we discovered that my earlier assumption about a flat railroad trail 
was totally off.  A long, winding staircase loomed in front of us.  Oh well...what goes up must come down, right?

The winding path to the Morgul Vale...doesn't this come BEFORE Shelob's lair?

Interstate is like an Outdoor Activities Amusement Park.  We saw kayakers, canoers, spelunkers, climbers, hikers, campers, bikers, tubers, you name it.  There's a big river, some lazy little rivers, climbing walls, hiking trails, potholes, places to rent equipment...and downtown Taylor's Falls is right at the northern end of the park.  We actually stopped mid-Hiking Club Trail at Romayne's on Main to have lunch before heading back.  Not bad!  Try the seasoned potato chips.

Climbers descending on real Elven Rope

It was a beautiful weekend day, so of course the park was PACKED.  Families, kids, tour groups - it was crazy.  And just a few miles downriver from the serene Wild River State Park!  While hiking we passed about thirty couples that all matched the same general description: toned, tanned guy in cargo shorts and no shirt, with a toned, tanned girl in shorts and a bikini top.

"Didn't we just pass them?"  I'd whisper to Joe.
"I think that's a different couple," he'd whisper back.  "It's hard to tell."

It's a good thing Joe kept his shirt on and I didn't have my skimpy bikini top with me, otherwise we may have been in danger of accidentally going home with the wrong person.  Scandal!

Traffic Jam on the River Anduin

We veered off the Hiking Club trail to check out the potholes.  We'd had no luck with potholes at Banning last year - they were all flooded.  If you're going to Interstate to do the Hiking Club Trail, I highly highly highly recommend hiking the extra mile or so to see the potholes.  Some are small and full of water and algae, and others are large enough to get lost in.

Looking down one of the giant potholes: Drums, drums in the deep.  And Joe.

Interstate was so busy and so full of things to do that I wound up feeling kind of overwhelmed.  I felt jealous of the kids that grew up in Taylors Falls and got to have this carnival of outdoorsyness right in their backyards.  Wilderness park it ain't - we listened to cars on the highway the entire time, and it didn't appear that there were too many places one could get away from the crowds.  I'd go back to Interstate anyway.  Like I've said before, there's a lot of variety in Minnesota State Parks.  I'm glad that a place like Interstate sure looks like people love it!

Paddling from Lothlorien to the Argonath

Total miles hiked today: 3.5
Total miles hiked in 2013: 81.1
Total Superior Hiking Trail miles hiked in 2013: 19.7
Total ticks today: 0
Total ticks in 2013: 54

* not really

1 comment:

  1. We've been to Interstate a few times, but have never spent as much time exploring the pot holes as I would like. There looks to be a lot of fun climbing and scrambling to be done. I also like this park because my friend and I had part of my "bachelor party" there. We loaded our bikes with camping gear, put them on a commuter bus to Stillwater and then biked up to Interstate. Beers in town that evening and camping that night. It was a fun trip. I suppose one of these days we'll explore the Wisconsin side a bit.