Back in May, other obligations allowed us time for only a small loop at the northern end of Murphy-Hanrehan Park Reserve – Hike #26 in 60 Hikes to be exact. It was a good hike but we thought this reserve merited another, longer visit.
The guidebook did mention that there was a loop at the southern end of the reserve, around a big lake it calls Minnregs Lake. Since today’s weather was a pleasant pause between heat waves and humidity bakes, it seemed the ideal time to tackle this longer loop. We also added a short side trip to Murphy Lake, one of the two officially named lakes in this park.
The southern trails here accommodate both horses and hikers. Thus the ones we were on today were mostly wide dirt double-tracks – easy walking as we rolled up and down the glacier moraines that underlie this terrain. As at other parks around here, major trail junctions are numbered and signed with a trail map keyed to these numbers.
Another big plus today – we were not bothered by biting insects! 😁 A couple of bedraggled mosquitos 🦟 made sad, pathetic attempts at biting us before becoming disillusioned and flying off into the great beyond. No tears were shed for this loss…😏
Our loop started at the Horse Trail parking lot, then went through Intersections 30, 31, 28, 33, 34, 35, 43, 41, 40, 38, 46, 47, 38, 37, and 29. We added a short out-and-back toward 25 to catch a glimpse of Murphy Lake through the cattails.
One of the marvels of the Three Rivers Park District is how they’ve maintained areas of forest, prairie, and marsh within Minnesota’s largest urban and suburban area. I don’t think we’ve lived any place else – and we’ve lived in a lot of other places – where so much open space is available, accessible, and well maintained, both summer and winter. Today, as we walked past prairies and lakes, we heard planes overhead approaching MSP, and some traffic noise from time to time, but for most of the day it felt like we were in some remote wilderness – but only minutes from home. 😃
Back in May, no leaves were fully out; the forest was just a jumble of green-tinged sticks. Today it was all leafy forests, prairies thick with native grasses and wildflowers, marshes ringed with cattails, and ponds layered with Water Lilies. The only downside of all this vegetative exuberance were the tall cattails blocking any unencumbered views of Minnregs Lake (or of Murphy Lake for that matter).
This loop (with the jog out to Murphy Lake) came to 6.5 miles (10.5 km) with a cumulative elevation gain of 300 feet (91 m). By the time we returned to the car, the day had warmed considerably, and we were glad we’d done this hike in the cool of the morning. 😉 There are some trails at the park’s northern end that are subject to seasonal closures – but will be open between now and the start of winter. So we’ll likely have to visit here again. 😁