We scaled back our quest a bit today to only three state parks (and a quick visit to Minnesota’s only National Park). This proved to involve plenty of driving and hiking, so we ended-up having done a full day before we stopped to rest for the night in Grand Forks, Minnesota (NOT Michigan!). All of this effort was made just that much easier by the continuation of the excellent sunny, clear, and cool Fall weather. 😎😊

We got off to a later start than usual, because we had to wait for the Park Service’s visitor center at Rainy Lake to open. So we bided our time by having breakfast at a small cafe (Coffee Landing Cafe) in International Falls – a notably cold place in the winter and forever associated with Rocky & Bullwinkle by those of us of a certain age.

Voyageurs National Park

Then a quick visit to Voyageurs where we cruised the gift shop and quizzed the rangers about hiking in the park. It’s mainly a water-oriented park but there are a few trails – one of which you reach by boat. It was too late in the summer season to do any hiking here now but we’ve put it on our to do list for (maybe) next summer – you know, when the flying, biting insects are at their most active. 🦟🦟😥

At Voyageurs
Black Bay and weather over Canada from the visitor center dock

Franz Jevne State Park

From the National Park, we motored back the way we’d come yesterday to Franz Jevne State Park on the banks of the Rainy River. We’d assumed this park was named for some 17th Century explorer but, no, it’s named for an early 20th Century property owner in the area, whose family donated the land to Minnesota for a park.

Franz Jevne is Minnesota’s smallest (118 ac/48 ha) park and, correspondingly, the Hiking Club route here is pretty short (1.3 mi/2.1 km). But the forest was festive with Fall colors 🍁🍂 and the trail took us along the Rainy River for a view across its waters to Canada. We did an extra loop to get some mileage here but it was still a short hike.

Starting the the Hiking Club route
An island in the Rainy River
Along the trail
Leaf
Through a stand of pines
Mushrooms in soft pastel shades
On the bank of the Rainy River
Looking across the Rainy toward the Canadian shore

Ah, Canada. So close, yet so far. If my mom (who’d immigrated to the U.S. after WW2) and her sister (who’d immigrated to Canada at the same time) had gotten along better, we would have settled in Canada when I was young and my life would have taken a different course. But they didn’t, we didn’t, and so here I am on the U.S. side today.

A path through Fall leaves
And back to the trailhead

From Franz Jevne, we had an hour’s drive to our next park (actually a state recreation area) – Big Bog. While “bog” doesn’t sound too enticing from a distance, we found it to be both historically and ecologically interesting. Plus we got to climb to the highest point we’d reach on this trip! 😁

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