Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Fort Snelling

This morning I made the long drive down to the Twin Cities to explore the Fort Snelling area. My plans were to tour the fort, hike Pike's Island at Fort Snelling State Park, and then hike along the bike trail to Minnehaha Falls Park. I had great weather and was successful in accomplishing everything that I wanted to get done.

The fort itself was interesting, mostly a reconstruction of the original, but a few buildings still remain from old Fort Snelling. Probably the most interesting aspect of the tour was seeing a small group of "soldiers" march around in formation and fire their muskets.
Firing Muskets
Fort Snelling Soldier
From the fort I walked over to Fort Snelling State Park where I hiked a three mile loop on Pike's Island which like Pike's Peak is named after Zebulon Pike. The loop trail happened to be a Hiking Club Trail and so I was able to add three more miles to my total. The trail followed along the perimeter of the island and offered many views of the Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers including their confluence. There were many wildflowers found along the trail and I even saw some interesting birds including pileated woodpeckers, a wild turkey, and an egret. Not bad for a city park!

After my hike I returned to the fort, stashed some things in my car, and then followed a bicycle trail along the Mississippi River to Minnehaha Falls and a pleasant city park operated by the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board.

Besides the falls there were manicured gardens, historic homes, and some statues of famous people. I also stopped for lunch at a nearby Dairy Queen before returning to Fort Snelling on another bike trail.

Finally, I drove to Afton State Park on the St. Croix River where I camped for the night in the backpacking campground. Travel to the campground required a short 3/4 mile hike and the campground itself was located on top of a grassy hill with some nice views in all directions.

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