I recently wrote this post as a guest blogger for RockyS2V. Here is the original post: http://blog.rockys2v.com/exploring-minnesota-state-parks/
I have some time off this summer before moving to South Korea in August and my plan is to make the most of it and explore my own state of Minnesota. There is something about being in nature that awakens my soul. I feel the calmness the second I walk onto a trail and realize I can take a deep breathe of fresh air and know that for the next few hours I can enjoy some peace and quiet with some breathe taking views. Don’t get me wrong I love the big city too with the hustle and bustle but the best thing about living in Minneapolis is that you can find nature even while in the city. There is an unlimited amount of lakes and parks around the cities that I escape to. I also have the luxury to head to northern Minnesota where my cabin is nestled away in a small town on a huge beautiful lake. It’s a true log cabin where my whole family of 6 growing up was jam packed into one open spaced room being forced to spend quality time together without electronics, TV or Internet. I like to think that is one of the reasons my family is still so close to this day. It’s the best.
I am reminded by the fact that many people in this world don’t have the luxury of seeing beauty the way I do. The hundred year old trees growing alongside banks of water and the sun shining through the tops glistening onto the ground. There is something very surreal walking into nature that we must all not take for granted. My dad has reminded me all growing up that many people in the world don’t get to see this kind of beauty. Children who grew up in parts of Asia, South America, New York City, even kids in my own backyard of Minneapolis have never set foot in a State Park or enjoyed hiking alongside a waterfall. It’s not something to take for granted. The forest does become a magical place. Hiking quietly through it you can hear birds chirping, twigs snapping and the rustle of water up ahead.
My goal these past few weeks was to step out and venture into the state parks around the Twin Cities. My parents brought us to these parks as children for picnics and fishing alongside the river but I felt like I needed to get out and see them again. For a year unlimited pass into all Minnesota state parks it is $25.00 and for a daily entry it is $5.00. Completely worth the money!
Afton State Park
Afton State Park is located about a half hour west of the Twin Cities. This was a more rigorous hike, which is exactly what I was going for. Since Minnesota doesn’t have mountains I have been looking for a steeper hill to climb and this one was perfect. It was about a 3-hour hike with breath taking views of the St. Croix River, forests as well as a beautiful prairie. It also had a swimming beach on the river which felt exactly like northern Minnesota’s beaches. This was one of my favorite hikes I have ventured on and I am excited to go there again. It also made me really excited to be living in South Korea this next year as I will be living in Gwangju which is known for their passion of hiking in the mountains. I have never lived in the mountains so I am very excited! Here are some photos:
Fort Snelling State Park
I woke up a bit stiff the next day from the hike but packed my backpack again and headed to Fort Snelling State Park. This is a very historic state park with lots of history. History and hiking = my kind of hike. This forest felt magical in every sense. The tree trunks were huge with the trunks bending over and hundred year old trees fallen down. It was surreal walking in there. I hiked around Pike Island which is a short 3-mile hike. It’s also located in the middle of St. Paul so you can hear the highway during your hike but it makes you feel like you are in the middle of nowhere. Something I hadn’t experienced in a long time. This hike is also good for any age and shape as it’s mostly flat ground. I enjoyed the peacefulness of it. Here are some photos from this adventure:
If you’d like to see the original post on RockyS2V’s Website: Here