And so our state park quest continued with visits to six parks in far southeastern Minnesota. Out-and-back driving to each from Minneapolis would have been a waste of time and gas. So we basecamped in Rochester and ventured forth from there.
First up was tiny (209 acre / 85 ha) Carley State Park, tucked in an oxbow of the North Branch of the Whitewater River. We did the 1.8 mile (2.9 km) Hiking Club route which includes upland forests and two river crossings.
Carley was established to protect a large stand of white pines. It is also well known for its bluebells. Unfortunately, we saw neither of these during today’s visit. 😥
But the lazy North Branch was charming and the towering trees along it and in the uplands were amazing. A short hike but a good one. And a nice warmup for the many, many stairs we would encounter at our second park of the day! 😁