While casting around for another short hike in the vicinity of Fargo, we came across the trail system at Buffalo River State Park, located about 15 miles (24 km) due east of downtown. It was particularly attractive because it would let us visit both the Buffalo River (a tributary of the Red River of the North) and another remnant piece of the tallgrass prairie. With near-perfect hiking weather still holding (that would change overnight), we drove out to the park.
The park has a $7 day-use fee, which we would have been happy to pay had doing so not been so convoluted. There was no one on duty at the entrance, the pay-by-phone QR code was unreadable, and paying online involved first registering with the parks department. We finally managed to scrape together $6.38 in change which we stuffed into the fee box, thus stiffing Minnesota out of 62 cents. We dragged the guilt for this shortage along with us on the hike. 😞 Note: Had this been our own car rather than a rental, we could probably have found $62 in change under and between the seats. 🙄
Fortunately, the hike, winding as it did through the prairie and across the river twice, was so pretty we soon forgot about being guilty. The combination of easy weather, a soft early morning light, reflections on calm water, and Fall colors was beguiling. It’s probably a different story come winter, but this combination made this day for us. 😊 But, after having lived in Alaska and Colorado, we can also see how the starkness of winter can present its own scenic opportunities. Unless, of course, your camera freezes…🥶
From the parking lot near the swimming pond, we connected with the Wide Sky Trail and followed that east to the MSUM Science Center where we connected with the River View Trail, which we followed back around to the parking lot. We crossed the river twice (on stout bridges) and also got a good like at it from a lookover along the trail. A short hike but still an excellent day in the woods. 😁