Myre-Big Island State Park (Minnesota) 14-Aug-2022

Despite all the horror stories about air travel in the U.S. and overseas this summer, we managed to get back to Minnesota with only a 6 hour delay in Reno and an aerobic 20 minute running connection in Salt Lake City. ๐Ÿคจ Fortunately, we didn’t check any bags! Another upside (if you want to call it that) was the absence of traffic on Interstate 494 at two o’clock in the morning! Ah, adventure travel at its best… ๐Ÿ™„

So, after recovering from all this traveling and adventuring, it was time again to take up our state park quest. Our enthusiasm for this quest has gotten us through all of the Hiking Club parks within about an hour’s drive of Minneapolis. So we have a couple of park-bagging road trips planned between now and the end of September to visit yet more (new to us) parks farther afield.

But Myre-Big Lake State Park resisted fitting into these plans. Still, it’s straight south of us and, with the price of gas falling, seemed doable as a day trip. Plus the Hiking Club loop there is a respectable 6.2 miles (9.9 km) – a fact we used to further rationalize a one park day trip. ๐Ÿค”

With all of these rationalizations in tow, we motored down to Myre-Big Lake and did the Hiking Club loop counter-clockwise – past Albert Lea Lake, with a lollipop around Big Island, then back through prairie and forests to the parking lot near New York Point.

Considering our route at the parking lot
Along the Monarch Trail
A Weeping Polypore fungus
Under the oaks along the Bur Oak Trail
Amanita ?
A magnificently BIG cottonwood tree ๐Ÿ˜Š
It was not a sunny day at the lake ๐Ÿ˜ฅ

The Hiking Club route here is mostly a loop but with a lollipop extension – accessed via a short road walk – around the perimeter of Big Island. There is a spur trail off this lollipop that took us to a point jutting into the lake. This is where we saw the kingfisher in a tree and rafts of pelicans paddling gently along the lake.

On the Big Island Trail around Big Island
A massive Sulfur Shelf fungus
Blue Lobelia
A raft of pelicans

After rounding Big Island – and getting diverted on what was actually a closed portion of the trail – we crossed back on to the “mainland” and followed the Plum, Bobolink, and White Fox Trails to the paved Blazing Star Trail – which runs between Albert Lea and the east side of the park. The Blazing Star took us to the Prairie View Trail, which we followed through prairie lands to the Great Marsh Trail. Sunflowers were everywhere and every flower seemed to have one or more pollinators crawling on it.

On the Bobolink Trail
Through the sunflowers on the Blazing Star Trail
Prairie under the clouds
More sunflowers
Sunflower with a Soldier Beetle
Indigo seed pods
Sunflowers and sky
On the Prairie View Trail
On the Great Marsh Trail
A preview of Fall colors
Part of the Great Marsh
Through the marsh
Back under the oaks near the parking lot

The official Hiking Club loop is 6.2 miles (9.9 km) but we managed to wander our way up to 6.9 miles (11.1 km) with a cumulative 300 feet (91 m) of elevation gain. The weather was mild and the air free of biting bugs but the clouds stifled sunshine the whole day. Not a great day for photos. But there were still plenty of wildflowers out, plus some colorful fungi and numerous birds, including a kingfisher and rafts of pelicans, so it ended-up being a good day to be outdoors. ๐Ÿ˜

A recurring theme for our cloudy day hikes in Oregon was sunshine just as we got back to the trailhead. Seems the same may hold true here in Minnesota. As we drove home, the clouds started to part just north of Albert Lea and all was sunshine by the time we reached our doorstep. ๐Ÿ™„


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