Friday, September 26, 2014

John A Latsch State Park: September 9th, 2014

John A. Latsch State Park in Winona does not have a Hiking Club trail.  It's one of the few State Parks that does not.  There was a place to hike, however, so we decided to give it a try.  We discovered that its one trail is not a Hiking Club trail because...well,it would be crazy to expect everyone to tackle this ascent.

Up the bluffs we go

The Riverview trail rises 450' up a flight of stairs from the parking lot.  When I first saw this sign, I said "An hour?  They expect a half-mile trail to take an HOUR?  Pah!"  I did some perfunctory leg stretches and swung my arms around a bit.  "Here we go!  Let's kick this pig!"

And then I saw this graffiti on the first step:

Step 1 of 584: oh boy.

If you assume that a storey in a high rise building is about 10 feet tall, then we climbed up the stairs of a 45 storey building.  Sometimes there was a railing, sometimes there was not.  Most of the time we were in the woods and there wasn't much of a view.  After about 100 steps my legs started to hurt.  After about 200 steps they felt like jelly.  After about 300 steps I couldn't walk more than 10 steps at a time without having to stop for a break.

The look of despair

Finally, after what felt like an eternity, we found ourselves at the top of the bluff.  It was worth it: what a view!  We could see for miles up and down the river, and had a great view of Lock and Dam #5 and the railroad tracks up and down each side of the river.  Joe, being a train aficionado, was thrilled to catch two trains on film as they headed south.

Choo choo

Lock and Dam #5

After we relaxed a bit at the top, we headed back down the stairs.  My legs still felt like jelly so we took it a bit more slowly than we ordinarily could.  All in all, it took us 23 minutes to hike up, 15 minutes to chill at the top, and 12 minutes to descend to the parking lot.  50 minutes total - ten minutes less than the hour that the sign recommended.  I could barely even enjoy our triumph over the bluff because I still felt like I was about to collapse.

Down down down

So - if you're going down Highway 61 in Winona, check out Latsch IF YOU DARE.  Great views await the brave and strong of legs.

Total miles hiked today: 1
Total miles hiked in 2014: 16.7
Total Superior Hiking Trail miles hiked in 2014: .8
Total ticks today: Joe - 0; Elly - 0.
Total ticks in 2014: 11


  1. I loved John A Latsch! We brought hiking poles, which helped! The view was so worth it!

    1. Next time I will absolutely bring poles! Even if I have to find branches on the ground to use as poles. It was intense - but yeah, the view was worth it. We found ourselves wondering what it would have been like during prime leaf-peeping season. Maybe next year...