Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Jay Cooke State Park: Carlton/Thomson Trails Loop

It was a fairly decent day for hiking today, and being my short day at work I just had to get out and enjoy it. I decided not to head too far away, and so Jay Cooke seemed to be a good choice for a hiking location.

I drove to the visitor center where I parked and hit the trail, crossing the St. Louis River on the suspension bridge. Once on the other side I began following the Carlton Trail. The trail was nice in that it closely followed the river. While I didn't always have a view of the river, I could at least hear the sound of water flowing over the rocks and churning through the rapids.

I saw a few wildflowers, a squirrel, and plenty of tilted graywhacke along the hike which soon left the river to follow Otter Creek for a short time. Shortly thereafter, the trail crossed the creek and intersected with the paved Willard Munger Trail. I followed the Munger Trail to an old railroad trestle that crossed the St. Louis River. The bridge passed over a particularly scenic section of river with lots of rapids and a deep little gorge.

From the Munger Trail I made my way to the Thomson Trail which I followed to the Pioneer Cemetery and eventually back to the visitor center and my car. It was a nice easy warm-up hike for my upcoming Superior Hiking Trail backpacking trip.

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