The clouds drifted away in the night and today broke clear and cool and very windy. Lake Bemidji was decorated with whitecaps as we left to drive south and west to our next state park, Father Hennepin, on the shore of Mille Lacs Lake. This lake is Minnesota’s second-largest inland lake, covering 207 square miles (536 square km). From shore, with the wind whipping up some impressive waves, Mille Lacs looked like an ocean, but without the briny smell. Then a pelican flew by and we couldn’t help but think of it as an ocean. 🙄

Sunrise at Lake Bemidji

The park is named after Father Louis Hennepin, a French priest who visited here in 1680 and was the first to write extensively about the Mille Lacs area. It’s a small park and the 2.1 mile (3.4 km) Hiking Club route encircles most of it. We parked near the Lakeview Campground and walked the trail counter-clockwise along the lake shore and then through the woods. The strong wind along the shore kept the bugs away. But as we turned to enter the woods, the wind died 🥺, allowing the flying blood-suckers 🦟🦟 to have another go at us (but one not as intense as at Itasca).

Going toward the shore
Choppy waters on Mille Lacs Lake
On fishing pier #1 – which was swaying up and down in the waves
Color and texture along the shore
Fishing pier #2 – which was flooded by the waves from time to time
The sandy beach on the park’s west side
We say good-bye to the lake, the beach, and the breeze…
And hello to bugs in the forest 🦟
Mushrooms
Grass releasing seeds
Self-heal (Prunella vulgaris)

As we turned back toward the lake, the breeze returned and the bugs were, again, mercifully, pushed back into the forest. So it was a short but good hike despite the bugs. What makes this park is the lake and that sandy beach which, on a less windy, less choppy day, would be a great place to hang out. Let the bugs agitate in the forest while you enjoy the sand! 😁

Our Hiking Club route at Father Hennepin
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