Old Mill State Park was the second of two Minnesota State Parks in the Tallgrass Aspen Parkland biome. If you were going to pick just one for a hike, I would go for Lake Bronson. We had a tough time at Old Mill.
For starters: wet trail much???
The Old Mill Hiking Club Trail is the Agassiz Self-Guided Trail, and it covers much of the southern side of the park. There is a WPA Historic Dam and a Historic Mill, but the Hiking Club Trail doesn't go to either of them. Instead, we got to slog through a lot of standing water.
|Jumping over Little Lake Old Mill|
It was also buggy. Very, very buggy. Not as buggy as Hayes Lake, but it was pretty bad. Once again, Joe got eaten alive by mosquitoes. We had turned right and walked the trail counter-clockwise from the trailhead. It turned out to be a good decision: when we found the Hiking Club Password sign, we also found an impassable lake blocking our path. We had to turn back. If we had gone the other way we would have been blocked by the same lake. We would have been able to SEE the Hiking Club Password sign on the other side...but been too far away to read it. Oh, that would have burned.
|You need a boat to read this interpretive sign|
Once we finished the Hiking Club Trail - going about 3/4 of the way around, and then having to turn around and double back - we decided to check out some of the other park amenities. There is a swimming area and beach that looked like it would be a refreshing place to hang out on a hot summer day. I wonder if they have ice skating in the winter?
We also liked the WPA-style stone bridge over Middle River.
|Very dramatic looking!|
At about 400 acres, Old Mill is a really small state park. It is surrounded on all sides by farmland, and it's selling point is that it is what the area would have looked like to the first European settlers back in the 1800's. The Larsen family homesteaded the area in the 1880's, and the family remained on the farm until 1937. They then sold the farm - including the grist mill - to the state. Once a year Old Mill State Park will fire up the Old Mill and make some flour the old fashioned way.
|Surprised water tower|
|I check out the homestead|
I'd say that Old Mill State Park is worth a visit, but call ahead to see if the Hiking Club Trail is flooded out. There are other trails on the north side of the park, but we didn't get much opportunity to check them out. It might be a fun day activity to hike and then check out the mill and the dam (which we didn't visit at all). But it's small, out of the way, not a good representation of the unique Tallgrass Aspen Parkland, and it's really buggy.
|poor Joe's legs|
Total miles hiked today (this park): 1.4 miles
Total miles hiked in 2015: 24.1
Total ticks today: Joe - 0; Elly - 0; Thunderdog - 0
Total ticks in 2015: 9
Countdown to All Miles: 19.6 to go