Our next park was Moose Lake State Park, located not too far south on Interstate 35 from Jay Cooke State Park. Paradoxically, the natural lake within this park is Echo Lake, not Moose Lake – that’s located to the east outside the park. There are “moose” names all around the park but not in it. 🤔 The main focus here are watery activities at Echo Lake but there is also a short (2 mile / 3.2 km) Hiking Club route.

There are two ponds – Wildlife Pond being one – that appear on the park’s map. The Rolling Hills Trail (the Hiking Club route) is shown running between them. Yet they don’t appear on any other of the usual maps. We figured out that these ponds were created by earthen dams built after these other maps were drawn. It was Wildlife Pond that really added some zing to this short hike.

Leaving the trailhead
Our first view of Wildlife Pond
Continuing on the Rolling Hills Trail
A shelter at the junction of the Rolling Hills and Wildlife Pond Trails
Continuing on the Rolling Hills Trail
Under giant oaks
And through a colonnade of pines
Artistic clouds brewed-up as we returned to Wildlife Pond
Clouds dance over the pond
Reflections on the pond
We cross the dam that created Wildlife Pond

The clouds over Wildlife Pond were beautiful and made this short hike a fitting end to this chapter of our state park quest. 😁 We had lunch near the Moose Lake Lodge and then drove back – through an intense thunderstorm at one point – to The Cities.

The Rolling Hills Trail loop. “D” are the dams and “W” is Wildlife Pond. I drew the ponds on the map based on aerial photos.
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