Hike 1: Frontenac State Park

“I took a walk in the woods and came out taller than the trees.” – Henry David Thoreau

Highlights

  • Distance: 2.6 miles
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Terrain: Wooded ravines and prairies
  • Wildlife Spotted: Bald Eagles and Turkey Vultures
  • Must See: Eagle Point

Located just outside of Red Wing, this was my first “official” hiking club hike. Well, actually, to be completely honest, I hiked it twice. Here’s the thing. When you hike the club trails you look for a sign with a “password” on it. The first time I hiked it alone and COULD NOT find the sign.  Luckily for me this park is absolutely gorgeous, so I was able to convince my parents to come down with me a few weeks later to “check out the views” (read: find the password for me).

We pulled up to the park office and my mom and I went in while my dad waited outside with the dog. In an awkward but typical fashion I admitted to the park ranger that I was unable to locate the password the last time I was there, and asked if the signs were hidden. With a look that was somewhere between disbelief and pity, he explained to me that the signs are in fact in plain sight, but added (for my sake) that the sign could have been covered by tall grass. We would later find out that it wasn’t covered by tall grass. At all.

We drove up the steep hill to the main parking lot and headed out on the trail.  Visitors are treated to an absolutely beautiful view from the get go, tempting adventurers to forgo the hike and bask in the picturesque view instead.

Frontenac

The view of Lake Pepin & the Mississippi (located about 50 feet from the parking lot)

We continued on our adventure winding down a wooded ravine which bottoms out and opens up to a fairly flat prairie. But of course, you have to make your way back up.  The path that leads back up is lined with a stunning army of oak trees- which almost distracts hikers from the incline. While the climb is not steep, it is constant and lengthy, so don’t be surprised if you find yourself sweating and out of breath! Once you read the top you can choose to continue straight ahead, or turn to the right and check out Eagle Point. Now, as I mentioned before, I did a lot of hiking the year previously, and out of all the state parks I have visited thus far, Eagle Point is by far my favorite view!

Frontenac Oak

Army of oak trees lining the incline

Eagle Point looks out (once again) over Lake Pepin/Mississippi River, and is home to the embarrassingly visible hiking club password sign.Unlike the view from the parking lot, however, Eagle Point has a quaint and cozy feel to it. An oak tree lazily sweeps out over a small wooden bench as the sunlight dances through it’s leaves.  While it would be easy to fix your eyes on the view ahead, don’t forget to look up to spot the soaring bald eagles and turkey vultures as they circle, search, glide, and eventually dive towards their prey.

Eagle Point

View from Eagle Point – Frontenac State Park

After getting our fill of the view (as if that is even possible), we continued on, climbing only a little more, and  finishing the trail by walking through an hilltop prairie. This park is a must see, whether you are part of the hiking club or not. I cannot wait to come back  and check out the views in the fall!

 

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