Wild River State Park (Minnesota) 09-Jun-2022

We returned from our Utah rafting trip in the early hours of Sunday morning to Sofie (our cat) and a mountain of unpacked moving boxes. Chin scratches and food mollified Sofie (momentarily) but those boxes were much more demanding. So we spent several days unpacking, building shelves, replacing light bulbs, cleaning, etc., etc. We soon longed for those days of yore when all we owned fit into a Volkswagen Bug and a Honda Civic. Sigh. πŸ™„

Finally, while searching for Sofie in a pile of packing peanuts (the compostable kind), it dawned on us that we needed a restorative (or at least a dodging the issue) hike. So we rekindled our state park quest and headed for Wild River State Park, which features in the 60 Hikes guide as Hike #58. It’s the last of the state parks within an easy one hour drive of Minneapolis, so further park questing will require greater logistics. Unless, of course, gas prices head way north of $5/gallon (πŸ₯Ί), in which case questing might be limited to our front porch.

The Hiking Club Trail at Wild River only goes for 3.3 miles (5.3 km) – and some of that is paved. So we extended our hiking time by adding the Old Military Road / Deer Creek Loop. It was a sunny day 😎 with moderate temperatures, a light breeze, and not much humidity.

Going south on the Old Military Road
Sunlight in the forest
On the Old Military Road
Deer Creek
The Saint Croix River at the mouth of Deer Creek
A shelter along the trail
Coming back on the Deer Creek Loop Trail

This loop was mostly – there were views of the river – through the dense greenery of a fully leafed-out Eastern deciduous forest. Which was great since we love trees.πŸ’š Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) thru hikers sometimes complain that long stands of towering green pines, firs, and other trees form a boring “green tunnel” in Oregon. This isn’t entirely true, as there are plenty of views to be had along that stretch of the PCT. And, sadly, with the increase in huge wildfires in the West, this sentiment may not even be close to true in the future. So it seems (to us at least) misguided to complain about trees – green tunnel or not – given how important trees are to our lives and life on this planet.

Orange Hawkweed – pretty but a nasty invasive
Across open ground at the north end of the Deer Creek Loop

After completing our Old Military Road – Deer Creek loop, we transitioned over to the Walter F. Mondale River Trail (part of the Hiking Club Trail) which took us along the Saint Croix River to the old Nevers Dam site.

Looking downriver from the Mondale River Trail
Following the River Trail upstream
Large Beardtongue
Spring Creek
Every log has its turtle
Canada Anemone
Along the River Trail
Clouds over the Saint Croix
More greenery

There’s a viewing platform at the north end of the Mondale River Trail that looks out over the former site of the Nevers Dam. Extensive logging occurred in the Saint Croix watershed between 1839 and 1914. Old, large pines were felled in winter and the logs sent downriver during Spring melt high water. Massive log jams would form, disrupting the supply of logs to the downstream lumber mills. This dam, built in 1889 (and “…reported to be the largest wood pile driven structure in the world…“), regulated the river’s flow to prevent such jams. Damaged by floods in 1954, it was removed in 1955.

Returning on the paved section of the Old Military Trail

Doing the Hiking Club loop, plus our additional loop to the south, brought our total hike to 7.3 miles (11.7 km) with about 200 feet (60 m) of elevation gain. Mosquitos 🦟 🦟🦟 were out in force {probably ticks too but we didn’t find any}. But with a dab of DEET, a steady pace, and sometimes a good breeze, we managed to stay ahead of them. But if we stopped for a photo, they were on us like jackals on a fresh carcass. Ah, Nature… But, bloodsuckers included, it was delightful to be outside rather than inside wrestling with moving boxes. 😁

Our double loop at Wild River
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6 thoughts on “Wild River State Park (Minnesota) 09-Jun-2022

  1. We loved Southern Oregon but times change. Hope you enjoy it too. Check out the Ashland Hiking Group if you haven’t already. Thanks for the Rovers suggestion. I was looking for a hiking group here to possibly connect with. πŸ™‚

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  2. Welcometo Minnesota, i lived there for 18 yrs( until 2018), but now am in southern oregon.
    Wild River was one of my favorite places.

    If you r ever looking for a terrificbunch of folk to hike/camp/canoe/socialize with, i highly recommend the Minnesota Rovers πŸ™‚
    I miss them alot!
    https://mnrovers.org/

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  3. A lovely hike through the trees! I find many Oregonians complain about not getting views on hikes or call treed hikes boring… Something they are most likely taking for granted as you mentioned. But on the brighter side makes for a quieter experience with nature when we do venture into the trees!

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  4. Thank you so much for the information! Sounds like it might be “a horse apiece” as they say out there as far as maintenance. My grandparents used to pull a trailer up there and camp while they picked huckleberries. I’m not sure which route they took but either way seems a bit challenging. 😨 We will definitely try again when it dries out and possibly gets more maintenance. The Camry wasn’t liking it. πŸ˜†

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  5. Forest Road 60 is the main unpaved road past Huckleberry Mountain. We came in twice from the Sno-Park on Hwy 62 to the north, branching off on FR 60-700 to reach the unmapped (but very real) spur road to the old lookout site. This is the shortest way in. We’ve also reached FR 60-700 by coming in from FR 60’s other end across from the turn-off to Woodruff Bridge. This is a longer and more convoluted way in and not in great shape in places. It too could be suffering from fallen trees, etc. this early in the year. You might have to wait until later when there’s been some road maintenance on FR 60 – July or August?

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  6. I was wondering if you could help with a question about getting to Huckleberry Mountain in southern Oregon. It was an incredibly special place to my Dad, and I’ve been trying to get up there for a long time and finally got there today, or at least part way. We took the road off 62 by the snowpark but it is in really bad shape and impassible with a tree that slid down and blocked the road. I read about your hike to the lookout and was wondering if there might be another route up there. If not, I will probably have to hike in! 😁

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