Yesterday, we hiked 6 miles around Lake Maria state park on a gorgeous fall afternoon.
You can View Larger Map with Photos.
My wife and I enjoyed the warm sun and gusting wind through the trees on this 6-mile loop trail. This state park trail is well groomed and intended for hikers, horses, and skiers - but no bikes. We might be back here in a couple months to see how we handle the hills on skis, but it is almost an hour from home.
Here is the trail route and some photos. When you click on the thumbnail pics, a larger picture is displayed, but using the link above to open a larger map works much better.
Keep reading below the map...
(click the pics below to see a larger version)
Even though we walked past a handful of lakes and bogs, I saw no wildlife except this one caterpillar. The tree colors were very nice, but mostly yellows. You only get the colors of the trees that grow where you walk, so getting the timing with color change is only half the challenge. The rest is finding a forest of the right kind of trees.
We passed under maples, aspen, birch, and poplar and they were all yellows, even the maples. Sumac provided some dark reds, a few oaks were turning burnt orange, and plenty of dry prairie grass added tans and browns.
Some parts of the forest were still green and the strong sun shining through the canopy made for wonderful colors.
Our route was very easy to follow. Starting at the parking area in the far west by Lake Maria, we hiked clockwise always taking the left fork at any trail intersection. This kept us on the outside trail around the entire park. Shorter walks are possible by cutting in towards the center at any intersection.
Being Minnesota, there was little terrain, but wide open Anderson Hill in the north east gave a great view far out to the north and east. Other than that, many open meadows allowed views across the lakes to far colored hills.
Next: Staring Lake Hike