It turns out that there used to be a town nearby the park, and the town's name was Scenic. The town has since disappeared, but the park was left behind. Because of the park's isolation (seriously, we felt like we were in the middle of nowhere) there wasn't much development until the Civilian Conservation Corps arrived. Scenic was the home of the first CCC-built facilities in Minnesota. Annoyingly, the Hiking Club Trail doesn't go near any of them.
|Over the boardwalk|
The Hiking Club Trail starts off right near the park office. It felt a little bit like The Park That Time Forgot: the interpretive signs were unreadable, the path was kind of overgrown, and we felt very much on our own out in the woods. We witnessed something unusual though - a few minutes into the hike, a full-sized pine tree fell down! It just buckled and broke into a few pieces as it crashed to the forest floor.
"A tree fell!" I shouted. "And we heard it!" I'd never seen that happen before.
We took the trail through an old spruce bog (nowhere near as impressive or extensive as Big Bog or Lake Bemidji) and Thunderdog did quite well, staying on the boardwalk. I always worry that her curiosity is going to get the best of her and she will belly flop into the muck.
Scenic State Park has almost 4,000 acres to explore, and that covers two large lakes and several smaller ones. Part of the Hiking Club Trail is an out-and-back on a long, heavily wooded peninsula that reaches into the middle of Coon Lake. We could see the lake on either side from our vantage point. The park boasts campgrounds, backpack and canoe sites, a swimming beach and a fishing pier, and tall trees waving in the breeze. It was beautiful.
At one point we came across an abandoned baby buggy. The trail was full of roots, I can't imagine anyone trying to bring a buggy out that far. We hadn't seen anyone in a while...we really hoped that we would run into the baby (and hopefully some adults) somewhere further along the point trail. There was a little baby walkie-talkie in the buggy and we considered using it to contact its owners.
|Nature: Under Construction|
Thankfully, we found the buggy-abandoning family at Chase Point, which is at the very end of the trail. They were carrying the baby and laughed when we mentioned how glad we were to have found them. The point was under construction: the old trail seemed undefined and the sides of the point were very steep. I was glad to see this park getting a bit of attention, even if it meant that we couldn't get all the way to Chase Point to enjoy the view.
|Okay, the view from NEAR Chase Point was quite nice.|
While out on the point, we caught sight of the most adorable Least Chipmunk that has ever existed, seriously. It lived at the bottom of a pine tree, with a little hole for his door and a well-worn sidewalk in front of it. He hid when we got too close, but Joe snuck around the back of the tree and waited for him to reappear. I took Lucy a ways down the trail so that the chipmunk wouldn't sense her. Joe's patience paid off.
Then he got suspicious, and zoom! He was gone.
|Zip! Back into his little home.|
The trails in Scenic State Park are full of toe-stubber roots. That's fine though, they're from the virgin stands of pine trees that somehow escaped logging. We also went through a very impressive stand of old-growth maples. This park would be out of this world in the fall.
|Toe-stubber trail, Thunderdog does not seem to mind|
After a thoroughly pleasant hike, we headed out. It wasn't until after we left that we realized we should have spent some time checking out the Civilian Conservation Corps buildings. We skipped it partially because the Observation Tower was not open - also under renovation. We should have gone anyway and visited the other buildings. Oh well...next time we're in this part of Minnesota.
We returned to the hotel and all of us, including Thunderdog, engaged in our favorite hotel activity: hanging out on the bed and watching HGTV. Woo hoo House Hunters International Marathon!!
|I love this flat!! Oui! Je t'aime!! Fantastico!!|
Total miles hiked today: 2.9 miles
Total miles hiked in 2015: 38.4
Total ticks today: Joe - 0; Elly - 0; Thunderdog - 0
Total ticks in 2015: 9
Countdown to All Miles: 5.3 to go