La Salle Lake State Recreation Area (Minnesota) 19-Jul-2022

As we drove toward our next Mississippi-themed hike, I thought back to one of the beloved books of my childhood: Holling’s Minn of the Mississippi. Beautifully illustrated (as are all his books 😊), it’s the story of a three-legged snapping turtle that hatches near the Mississippi’s headwaters and makes her way downriver to Louisiana. It’s heart-warming and informative. Some readers feel it offers up too much information. But I think that’s what makes it great – you can read it again and again and learn something new each time. Maybe it’s why I really like turtles? 🐢😁

LaSalle Creek, after it leaves LaSalle Lake, becomes a minor tributary of the Mississippi River. The short Hiking Club route here crosses the La Salle Lake Scientific and Natural Area to a viewpoint overlooking the Mississippi – which has grown a bit since it left Lake Itasca several miles to the south.

LaSalle Lake, one of the deepest lakes in Mississippi

The Hiking Club route (the River Overlook Trail) starts at a parking lot off County Road 9 (Intersection D) and climbs across the county road to a parking area and large gate on the road’s north side. This is the edge of the natural area. The gates and fencing are to protect the regeneration of a natural jack pine woodland (the original woodland was destroyed by a strong wind storm in 2012).

The huge plus on this hike was the stiff wind flowing across the ridge out to the viewpoint. That kept us cool and blew to perdition the flying bugs that had bedeviled us at Itasca. 😃

At the edge of the Natural Area
Heading for the first gate
Our trail had been carved through the veg
Blue Giant Hyssop
Through a patch of Aspens
Goldenrod with guest

A mostly level walk through the fenced area brought us to the viewpoint. From here we could see the Mississippi meandering through the valley below. LaSalle Creek enters the Mississippi just north of the viewpoint but a view of the confluence was obscured by trees.

The Mississippi meanders through the verdant valley
We head back under cloudier skies
Soon the heavens will weep…

This was a short 2.7 mile (4.3 km) out-and-back hike, enlivened by some wildflowers, a natural history lesson, and yet another view of the adolescent Big Muddy. When we started out, the sun was shining brightly. By the time we turned back, clouds were gathering, the sky had darkened, and ominously moist portent tingled in the air. Undeterred, we pushed on to Lake Bemidji, our last park for today.

The Hiking Club route at LaSalle Lake
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