Saturday, June 25, 2011

Buffalo River and Maplewood State Parks

Bumblebee & Clover

Yesterday after work, I paced up a few things, ate some dinner and than hit the road headed for west-central Minnesota to log some Hiking Club miles. Noelle had left earlier in the day to go to her parents' house for the weekend, so I would be making the trip solo. The start of my trip, I must admit, didn't go quite as planned. Outside of Walker, Minnesota a deer ran into the side of my car.While the deer didn't do any damage, it scared the heck out of me. Then when I arrived at Buffalo River State Park, where I had planned on camping for the night, I learned that the campground was full. To make matters worse, when I consulted my trusty DeLorme Minnesota Atlas and Gazetteer I discovered that the campground at Buffalo River is the only one, public or commercial, around for miles. Sadly, I headed into Moorehead to find a hotel for the night.

After a descent night of sleep in Moorehead, I headed back to Buffalo River State park to do some hiking. The hike started out with a pleasant walk along the park's namesake river.
Buffalo River

Eventually I found myself at the MSU Regional Science Center where there is an interesting sculpture of the local prairie grasses.
Prairie Grass Sculpture

From the sculpture, I headed into the woods, made a loop and then headed into the prairie. It was nice to back in the prairie for the first time in a long while.
Prairie & Tree

I enjoyed walking through the grasses. Unfortunately, there weren't many flowers in bloom, but with a warm sun and blue sky replacing the clouds I didn't mind the lack of blossoms too much.

From Buffalo River State Park I headed south to Maplewood State Park. The first thing that I did was get a campsite for the night. Then I hit the trail.
Hiking Eric

Maplewood State Park is interesting in that it contains many different ecosystems. There is the prairie, the deciduous forest, and the lakes. I started off by heading into the woods, passing a tree decorated with red balls
Decorated Tree

and then paralleled the shoreline of Cataract Lake.
Cataract lake

I then headed back into the woods before passing another lake, this time Grass Lake.
Grass Lake

Like at Buffalo River, there were not many wildflowers in bloom, I guess it's just not the right time of the year. I did see some spiderwort

and some other yellow composites that I could not identify.
Unknown Yellow Flower

After passing Beers Lake (nice name by the way) things got a bit interesting. The trail got wet, and not just a small puddle, really wet. I tried to find a way around the wet spot, but was unsuccessful and so I took off my shoes and waded into the water.
The Hiking Club "Trail"

It was deeper than I had expected coming up past my knees. It made for the most hard core of my Hiking Club walks yet! It also happens to be the hike to take me over the 100 mile mark for the Hiking Club.

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