Thursday, September 3, 2015

Schoolcraft State Park: August 17th, 2015

At just 141 acres, Schoolcraft State Park is another one of Minnesota's itty-bitty State Parks like Franz Jevne (118 acres), Kilen Woods (202 acres), and Carley (209 acres).  It is managed by the staff from the nearby Scenic State Park, but doesn't have any of its own programming.  That makes it a nice little park for quiet camping, chilling out, and enjoying the winding creek known as the Mississippi River.

The park was named after Henry Schoolcraft, an historian and geologist who researched and wrote about the headwaters of the Mississippi River as well as writing a six-volume set on the Native Americans of this part of the continent.  His wife, Jane Johnston Schoolcraft, was no slouch either.  She was half Ojibwe and half Scots-Irish, and was a writer of Ojibwe tales in English as well as novels, poetry, and folklore.  Henry Schoolcraft is also known as the person who gave many Michigan counties their names...faux Indian names.  They are mostly nonsense words that sounded "Indian-like" to his ear.  Lake Itasca itself is a faux Indian name that he concocted by combining the Latin words Veritas (truth) and Capit (head), meaning the true headwaters of the Mississippi.

Anyway, on to the park.

Joe gets a shot under the pines

Like McCarthy Beach and Scenic, this was another wonderful Northwoods Park.  Towering pines above and red needles on the path below, cool breezes off of the nearby water, and the feeling of being very much alone in the forest.  There are only two miles of hiking trails total in the park, and 1.8 of them are the Hiking Club trail.  There are some interpretive signs along the trail, which encircles pretty much the whole park.  The trail starts and ends at the Picnic Area - very easy to find.  In fact, you would have to try pretty hard to get lost in a 141 acre park.

Movin' right along, footloose and fancy free

Part of the trail follows the Old Grand Rapids Tote Road.  I wasn't able to find much information on that road, but my guess is that it was a mining/logging road that went from Grand Rapids (what a shock!) to this part of the Mississippi for sending goods downstream.  The Mississippi is slow and mellow here, right after the section in which it travels north for a while out of Lake Itasca.  This is mostly National Forest and State Forest land now, and the fishing here is excellent.

Lazy little Mississippi River

In addition to the Mississippi, the Vermillion River enters the park from the south and there are plenty of grassy backwaters to explore in a canoe.  I sure wouldn't mind coming back with a canoe or kayak and poking around for a day on the water.

Backwater and big sky

The trees along the Hiking Club Trail are amazing.  Towering old-growth pines that are believed to be over 300 years old and vibrant aspens, growing out of a bed of ferns.  Ferns ferns everywhere in this park.  Very peaceful.

Sun through the pines

I wouldn't mind coming back here with a canoe and spending a week or so exploring the waterways and the nearby areas of the Chippewa National Forest.  Leech Lake isn't that far away if you're interested in taking that big noisy motorboat out for a spin.  But here in Schoolcraft, you'll just that Northwoods Quiet that I love.

Joe likes it too!

This brings us almost to the end of our four-year-long Hiking Club Trail journey.  We have hiked 189.8 miles of Hiking Club Trails in 66 Minnesota State Parks (and many more miles on other trails).   We're going to visit the last park on Labor Day weekend and hope to have that post, and then a few wrap-up posts in the next couple of weeks.

And then there was one...

Total miles hiked today: 1.8 miles
Total miles hiked in 2015: 40.2
Total ticks today: Joe - 0; Elly - 0; Thunderdog - 0
Total ticks in 2015: 9

Countdown to All Miles: 3.5 to go


  1. The tension is killing me! What's going to happen?!

    1. Whatever it is, I'm sure it's gonna be great!!

  2. This is where we camped earlier this summer with Maggie...her first camping trip! She had a great time and it was a nice quiet park.

    1. You know, this tour of ALL the parks (not just the big and famous ones) has really opened my eyes to how nice the tiny parks can be. No circus, no droning generators, no concession stands, no giant crowds of people. This one and Franz Jevne in particular were total jewels, and we'd definitely go back.

    2. Mark and I stayed at Franz Jevne summer of 2012 for a few nights and LOVED it. So quiet and peaceful. We also love Carley for the same reasons. Plus the campgrounds are mostly populated by tent campers, who have a vibe more in line with how we camp than motorhome campers. We definitely want to go back with Maggie and R2 when they are old enough!

  3. So are you going to do a state park review? Best and worst of different categories?
    Best place to come away with really dirty/muddy shoes
    Best place to run from mosquitoes
    Best prairie park