The first time we visited Lebanon Hills Regional Park, the leaves had yet to appear on the trees. This time around, the leaves were in the process of falling off the trees. Last time it was clear, sunny, and warm. This time it was clear, sunny, and decidedly cooler, the temperature having dipped below freezing (ever so briefly) the night before. Last time the lakes were almost full; this time, not so much. It would be a wonderful thing if we got some serious rain before winter arrives. πŸŒ§πŸ˜•

Last time, we did a loop out and around Jensen and Schulze Lakes from the Holland Lake Trailhead. This time we did essentially the same loop – but started from the Visitor Center Trailhead and added a tiny stretch of cross-country to tighten the loop.

Our goal was to see yet more Fall colors before they leave (pun? πŸ˜’) for the year. Although the forest’s colors were somewhat muted by the drought, there was still plenty of color – the maples being the showiest of all (as usual). 🍁🍁 We were rarely alone on the trail, as numerous other people were out enjoying the colors and the invigorating Fall weather.

Starting off from near the Visitor Center
Connecting the trails with a bit of cross-country
An unnamed pond near Cattail Lake
On the Northern Voyageur Trek
Where the idea for Christmas Tree ornaments came from πŸ€”
Approaching the Jensen Lake Trailhead
Toward the west end of Jensen Lake
On the Boardwalk
On the Southern Voyageur Trek
Fall color at Jensen Lake, Lebanon Hills Regional Park, Minnesota
Jensen Lake
Fall color at Jensen Lake, Lebanon Hills Regional Park, Minnesota
Jensen Lake
Fall color at Jensen Lake, Lebanon Hills Regional Park, Minnesota
Jensen Lake
Sedge Pond
On the bridge over Bridge Pond
Bridge Pond

Along the Southern Voyageur Trek just south of O’Brien Lake, we entered a forest stand that had the most concentrated display of Fall colors we saw all day. As we were standing there gaping, a trail runner came along, stopped in his tracks, exclaimed something like “Oh, wow“, pulled out his phone, and started taking photos. We thought it encouraging that Nature was so beautifully intense here that it made an otherwise totally focused runner stop short and take note. Score one for Nature! πŸ‘πŸ˜Š

Oh, wow! 😲
The most intense patch of Fall color we saw
Cue beauty appreciation sounds…
Yet more color
And more…
We finally break away from color appreciation and continue on to Schulze Lake and the trailhead
Schulze Lake, Lebanon Hills Regional Park, Minnesota
A sunny day at Schulze Lake
Schulze Lake, Lebanon Hills Regional Park, Minnesota
One last burst of color at Schulze Lake

Today’s loop came to 6.2 miles (9.9 km) and was an absolute delight, with great weather, clear trails, and Fall colors. It was also nice to see other people (and their dogs) out enjoying the weather and colors too.

We’d gotten an early(ish) start and were back at the trailhead just after noon. Nothing to do then but seek lunch and libations at the nearby – and appropriately named – Trail Stop Tavern. Even though they were busy, both the service and the burgers were excellent. πŸ”πŸΊπŸ˜‹

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