Monday, October 27, 2014

Beaver Creek Valley State Park: October 12th, 2014

Beaver Creek Valley State Park is located in the part of Minnesota bluffland where, if you get up high enough, you might be able to see both Wisconsin and Iowa.  It is not a large park - about 1,200 acres - but it has a 6.2 mile Hiking Club trail.  The trail takes you through the valley of Beaver Creek, and it's pretty fantastic.  It is a narrow path of a trail, definitely not one of the six-foot-wide paved paths that we have seen in other parks.  It reminded me of the Superior Hiking Trail, which is a definite compliment.

Into the woods we go

It was a bit tough to SEE the trail - it was narrow to begin with, and the leaves did not help at all.  We worried that we would get off trail and wind up lost...but the park isn't that big, and so long as we didn't stray too far from the river, we would be fine.  I think we were most worried about missing the Hiking Club Password (don't worry, we found it).

Joe on the hilltop

There were plenty of hills on this hike, but there weren't any any Big Hills like we saw at Whitewater.  The 6.2 miles meandered alongside the river, up and over hilltops, and alongside bluffs.  We saw a few spur trails to overlooks, but after checking out the narrow contour lines on the map we decided to save those overlooks for another time.

Hikin' along the bluffside

Unfortunately, we dealt with intermittent showers the entire time.  It wasn't cold out yet, but the rain made it kind of clammy and a bit unpleasant.  But even with the rain, it was still a great hike.

Joe in the yellow and green woods

At one point on the hike, you will see a spur trail to the source of the Beaver Creek.  Do not miss taking that little trail and exploring the springs!  It is not far off the main trail, and it is definitely worth it.  The water really does come straight out of the rocks - I don't care how old you are or how many springs you've seen, it's still cool.   Like Whitewater River, the Beaver Creek is the perfect environment for trout: the temperature of the water comes out of the rocks at about 48 degrees Fahrenheit all year round, and the fish (and anglers) are happy.

Water from a rock

If you're heading to the campground in your car, you're most likely going to have to travel over the creek.  I was able to walk across on the cement bridge, but nearly got splashed when cars drove through the water on the road.  I never found out what the deal with the slat bridges was - but I do think it has something to do with the spring-fed creek/rivers whose levels do not rise significantly throughout the year.  If you do not have to plan for periodic flooding, you can build a static bridge that doesn't need to adjust to rising water.  Also - the creek/rivers do not freeze in the winter (they stay at 48 degrees year round).  Not having to deal with the expanding/contracting ice would make life a lot easier for bridgebuilders.

Water on the road

The hike was one of the longest ones on the Hiking Club, but it was a good one.  I love narrow paths, and it was fun to go cross-country when the path was obscured by the leaves.  The park is beautiful but not crowded, and it was fun to stop and investigate the spring.  One of the trails was closed when we visited (the Quarry Trail) due to the hillside starting to slide.  Check at the Park Office before heading out to make sure the trails are open.

Another good reason to stop at the Park Office is to ask the Ranger which side of the trail is the "easy side".  There are two halves to the Hiking Club Trail (the bridge over the river is the middle).  Most of the pictures above are from the "hard side" - the one in which we went up and down the bluffs.  We intentionally did the "hard side" of the hike first so that we could take a leisurely stroll after working out our glutes on the hills.  The "easy side" took us through a beautiful prairie, which we imagined would be quite impressive with spring wildflowers.  This is a great birding park as well...they probably love that prairie.

And the fall colors are great!

Don't worry about the long length of the hike!  It is worth it.

Total miles hiked today : 6.2
Total miles hiked in 2014: 33.6
Total Superior Hiking Trail miles hiked in 2014: .8
Total ticks today: Joe - 0; Elly - 0.
Total ticks in 2014: 11

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