Friday, October 17, 2014

Carley State Park: October 11th, 2014

Our mission to get to 150 miles this year continues!  Joe and I decided to take a long late autumn weekend and travel to Southeast Minnesota for leaf-peeping and trail-hiking.  We visited four state parks in three days - including a trip to a cave - and you'll hear all about it here over the next week or so.

First off: Carley State Park.

North branch of the Whitewater River

Carley is an itty-bitty little State Park by Plainview, MN.  It covers only about 200 acres, and it is managed by the staff at the nearby Whitewater State Park.  The park is known for its spring wildflowers and its stand of white pines - rare in this part of the state. The Hiking Club Trail is 1.8 miles long, and quite pleasant.

Fall colors - ah!

We crossed over the river a few times, and were intrigued by these concrete slab bridges.  We had never seen them before in any other park we'd visited, but we saw them in almost all of the parks we visited this weekend.  Some theories we had were: having bridges capable of vehicles to drive over, the slabs created rushing water which trout like (lots of trout in these rivers, more about that in later posts), more sturdy in floods than wooden or metal bridges...?  We're not sure.  Perhaps I'll find the answer prior to finishing the next three posts.  Any ideas?

Bridge of mystery

The fall colors were very impressive while we were there.  We spoke to a ranger who said that they see two fall color peaks in this part of the state - first the oaks and sumacs go, and then later the maples and aspens.  Lots of yellows against the greens of the undergrowth and the pines.  Ah!

Leaves and shadows

Since this is a short post, I'm going to show you all a sign that we've seen in just about every park we've visited:

Gathering of Firewood Prohibited

Joe and I find this sign particularly funny when we envision a bunch of disenfranchised logs, unhappy that their right to assemble is being thwarted by the Minnesota State Park system.  Help! Help! They're being oppressed!

Total miles hiked today (at this park): 1.8
Total miles hiked in 2014: 25.2
Total Superior Hiking Trail miles hiked in 2014: .8
Total ticks today: Joe - 0; Elly - 0.
Total ticks in 2014: 11


  1. Carley is a fantastic place to camp, for those that like a quiet campground that caters mostly to tents (if I remember correctly, there are no electric sites, only pit toilets, and the RV length limitation of 30 feet keeps out a lot of the RVs). We've stayed there and loved it.

    1. You know, I'm not sure - II remember just the one campground, and it was pretty small and deserted for this time of year. There were also some pretty sweet looking group campsites that were more isolated.

      This seems like a nice quiet little park compared to Whitewater down the road. I think I'd rather stay at Carley and day-trip to Whitewater for the amenities!

  2. My assumption when I see bridges like that is that they are designed to need very little maintenance. They don't need to be rebuilt after floods. Rotten timbers don't need to be replaced, etc.

    That is a very pleasant looking park. I love the idea of a non-totally-crazy campground too. That seems to be rare in state parks.

    1. We've been keeping a mental list of quiet little parks to revisit once we're in camping mode. This one reminded us a bit of Franz Jevne, which is another quiet, tiny park.

      That's a good thought about the floods. The river here is spring-fed, so perhaps it's even less likely to flood than usual? I could see a downside to these bridges if the level of the river changed considerably from spring to fall - but if it's just the same amount of spring water all the time, it wouldn't matter.