Scenic State Park was our last park for the day, before we headed south to Grand Rapids (Minnesota!) for the night. We’d gotten another early start on the day, but between the driving and the bog and climbing the tower and taking photos, daylight had slipped into late afternoon by the time we reached Scenic. And a (granted, small) moral dilemma.

The Hiking Club guide said the route at Scenic was just 2.9 miles (4.6 km) – an easy hour’s walk. And I seemed to recall it was just one route. But, no, it soon became apparent that the route was both longer (3.4 miles/5.4 km) and bifurcated – a loop on the west side of the park road and a line along an esker jutting into Coon-Sandwick Lake. 😲

So we stood in the gathering gloom, with our moral compass wobbling as we pondered whether to do the now longer, double route or try and guess (and take) the shortest way to the password. {cue suspenseful music} 🤔 I can’t say we weren’t tempted. But, after checking the batteries in our headlamps, we did – with some grumbling and use of various Anglo-Saxon verbiage – both. And without using our headlamps! We’d stayed on the moral high ground! 👍🙄

We did the west side loop (Tell Lake Trail) first. This proved to be an undulating walk in the woods, with colorful foliage, mushrooms, and ferns to enliven the scenery. We did this at a good clip, which got us back to the start of the Chase Point Trail with a fair amount of daylight left. 😀

Under changing foliage on the Tell Lake Trail
A herd of mushrooms
Continuing on under the trees
A fern in Fall
Continuing on…
Cedar Lake, Scenic State Park, Minnesota
A distant view of Cedar Lake to the west
On a boardwalk through a now dry marsh
Leaf fallen on ferns
More boardwalk and some Fall colors
A fern anticipates winter with color

The Chase Point Trail (apparently the most popular trail in the park) goes along the top of an esker (now a peninsula in Coon-Sandwick Lake) that was formed when this part of Minnesota was covered by a truly massive glacier – think 2 miles (3.2 km) thick!

The trail along the top of this peninsula is nearly level and was easy walking as we raced the fading sunlight, past the Zaiser Island Memorial, to the stairs at the peninsula’s tip. These took us down to the lake shore and a view out over its cool, clear waters. Then, as the sun hit the horizon, we headed back, reaching the truck still able to see our feet! Very aerobic!

On the Chase Point Trail
Past the Zaiser Island Memorial
Zaiser Island, with weather building in the distance
Through a forest of Red Pines on the peninsula
And down the stairs…
Coon-Sandwick Lake
The sun heads inexorably for the horizon
Back up the stairs…
Through the pines…
And on to the trailhead
Our two part hike at Scenic

Fortunately, Grand Rapids (Minnesota!) is not too far from Scenic and we were able to check into our hotel there before it got truly dark. Also fortunately our hotel had a nice restaurant attached to it so we didn’t have to any more driving today to reach food and drink. 🍔🍸😋

So, all in all, another full and fun day, with a little more of a workout than expected at the end but with our moral compass still firmly in its gimbals (so to speak). Tomorrow, we would visit only one park but one with a longer Hiking Club route, part of which is on an ancient path key to early movement and exploration across the Saint Lawrence River Divide. 😁

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