Mille Lacs Kathio State Park (Minnesota) 20-Jul-2022

Mille Lacs Kathio State Park has the usual park amenities (including 35 miles (56 km) of trails) but its main focus is on the history of human settlement in the area, a history that dates back at least 9,000 years. This makes the park one of the most significant archeological localities in Minnesota, with 30 sites identified thus far. Its connection to the Mississippi is the Rum River, which leaves Mille Lacs Lake, transits the park, and then continues south to a confluence with the Mississippi near Anoka.

This morning’s breezes had finally died and the day had warmed a lot, so the 3.3 mile (5.4 km) Hiking Club route past some archeological sites and Ogecchie Lake seemed just about right. The park’s website cheerfully reminded us that it was now fly and mosquito season and we should prepare accordingly. Yes, we did that by forgetting our headnets. 😧 Fortunately, we had a generous supply of DEET.

We started on the Landmark Trail, which took us through the woods along the shore of Ogechie Lake and past sites that were Mdewakanton Dakota villages up until about 1700 CE. In those days, such villages extended from Mille Lacs Lake for some distance down along the Rum River. When the Dakota migrated west on to the plains, they were replaced by the Ojibwe, who still live in this area.

Starting out on the Landmark Trail
On the Landmark Trail
Ogechie Lake
Site of one of the pre-1700 Dakota villages
Honey Mushroom (?)
Indian Pipe Fungus
Another Dakota village site

The walk along the Landmark Trail was both informative and pleasant, as a breeze off Ogechie Lake forced the bugs to work extra hard to reach us. Then the Hiking Club route turned inland, over a rolling terrain formed by glacial moraines and past ponds teeming with insect life. And the breeze disappeared. 😲 On with the Lawrence of Arabia style bandana head coverings and more DEET too.

Into the woods (and the bugs)
Puffball
Michigan Lily
One of the several marshes harboring insect life
A spot of yellow in the forest
Common Cinquefoil

We passed through a second-growth forest that’s probably beautiful in the Fall when the leaves are colorful and the bugs are DEAD! DEAD, I say! DEAD! {cue hysterical cackling here} Today, however, the bugs were not dead and they were soon all we could think about. We made it back to the trailhead with flies clinging to us and spent a few gleeful moments mooshing the ones that foolishly pursued us into the truck. 😈

Our route at Mille Lacs Kathio

Our Plan A was to visit a another park today but the heat and the bugs were too much. So after a short stop to see the Rum River, we invoked Plan B and headed to Baxter for the night. A hot shower to remove the DEET residue and bug carcasses, followed by a nice dinner πŸ”πŸΊπŸ˜‹, proved great ways to end another action packed day in our quest for Minnesota’s state parks. 😁

The Rum River at the outlet of Ogichie Lake
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2 thoughts on “Mille Lacs Kathio State Park (Minnesota) 20-Jul-2022

  1. The hiking guide we purchased when we got here has seen hard, but fun, use so far – and we haven’t even been back to the North Shore yet! More fun awaits! 😁 The picaridin used in Ranger Ready is a synthetic version of a repellent found in pepper plants. But it’s supposed to work better than DEET for flies, which we found way more irritating than mosquitos – particularly Up North. Your plastic gear is also safe with picaridin. But you might want to have a head net along just in case. πŸ˜‰

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  2. Just arrived in Minnesota for several weeks…hoping to avoid the bugs!! We spent almost a month in Wisconsin on our way here, and much to my surprise, we were bug free. But I have a supply of Ranger Ready on board just in case. It’s a natural alternative to DEET (which I refuse to use!) and has worked really well for us when we’ve needed it in Florida. Looks like you’re making great progress compiling your Minnesota hiking guide. πŸ™‚

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