Sibley State Park (Minnesota) 25-Oct-2022

We’re sorry Minnesota, we seem to have brought the drought with us from the West Coast. 😒 It’s now D1 or higher over much of the state. The air temperature has also been fluctuating wildly, from 78℉ (25℃) over the weekend to 35℉ (1.6℃) this morning. Despite the lower temperatures, no rain means no snow, which means that state parks that close their Hiking Club trails for use as ski trails haven’t done so yet. Which means we could hike a few more parks before winter finally arrives. πŸ₯Ά

Sibley State Park is the closest park to the Twin Cities that we hadn’t yet hiked and is near a hamlet with a tangential connection to where my mom was born. So Sibley was our target for today. The weather was typically capricious – cold, blustery, and overcast until the last 15 minutes of the hike. Then the clouds quickly parted, the sun shone through, temperatures rose, and all was forgiven weather-wise. Yeah, right. 🀨

The annual Minnesota Educators Association (MEA) break was last Thursday and Friday and many of those folks found their way to Sibley for the weekend. The park office was open – so we were able to trinket-up before starting our hike – but the park staff were still in kind of a daze after managing the MEA hoards. So we learned about another Minnesota tradition but were glad we missed it – we had the trail to ourselves today. πŸ˜‰

This late in the Fall, most of the trees were bare and the landscape exhibited a color palette stuffed with every conceivable shade of brown. Only near the end of the hike – when the sun finally emerged – did a few other colors pop.

On the Mt. Tom Trail
A tiny oak provides some late Fall color
And yet some shrubs are still green…
American Bittersweet
Over a soft carpet of fallen leaves

The literal and figurative high point in this park is Mount Tom – at 1,375 feet (419 m), it’s the highest USGS named point in the park and for a good ways around. The stout stone and wood tower stuck on its top provides expansive views out over the glacially altered, lightly rolling landscape.

The viewing tower on Mount Tom
Looking south
Looking north

Mount Tom is near the top of the Hiking Club loop and from here we made our way south, past Little Mount Tom and Badger Hill, to the shores of Lake Andrew.

Going south
Little Mount Tom
More colorful oak leaves
A senescent marsh
Through the orange-brown of late Fall
Badger Hill
On toward Lake Andrew
But first a small, unnamed pond
A bit more forest…
Lake Andrew
The overcast began to break shortly after we reached the lake
Lake Andrew with improving weather
We turn toward the parking lot under an increasingly blue sky
Sunlight and bright Fall colors on the aspens
Blue sky within sight of the parking lot πŸ˜’

Our hike was a 4 mile (6.4 km), 500 foot (152 m) of gain, undulating loop over and through the glacially formed hills and valleys of the Alexandria Moraine Complex and past Lake Andrew. Despite the lack of cooperation from the weather (until the end πŸ™„), it was a good outing. We enjoyed finally doing some hiking in conditions cold enough to qualify as Fall, on the cusp of winter, weather. 😊

Our Hiking Club route at Sibley (mountain symbol = Mt. Tom, LT = Little Mt. Tom, BH = Badger Hill)

Now wearing sunglasses πŸ˜ŽπŸ™„, we left the park and had a nice lunch πŸ₯ͺπŸ˜‹ at the Sweet River CafΓ© in New London. Afterward, we drove back via Highway 23 so we could pass through the little hamlet of Hawick, Minnesota.

Hawick, Minnesota

Originally named Havig, it was renamed after Hawick, Scotland by a local railroad superintendent. My mom was born and raised in the Scottish one and came to the U.S. after WW2 to marry my father, an Army Air Corps officer. Granted it’s a tenuous connection but still find the many we seem to have with Minnesota a touch eerie. Way fewer than 6 degrees of separation… πŸ₯“πŸ˜


5 thoughts on “Sibley State Park (Minnesota) 25-Oct-2022

  1. Such a great find! Someone selling it at a market said it was protected, not sure about that. πŸ€” I thought about trying to grow some.


  2. According to the Minnesota Wildflowers website, its present all over Minnesota. But this was the first bittersweet we’ve seen – maybe because its orange/red berries were now so obvious in an otherwise brown forest.


  3. I love bittersweet! It wasn’t easy to find in northeastern Wisconsin, perhaps it’s more prevalent there?


  4. I think this tower was just meant to be a viewing platform with some informative plaques around it. Sort of a symbolic high point for this park. Fire lookouts out here tend to look more like little metal boxes on very tall metal towers.


  5. What a cool viewing tower! Did it mention what it was used for? I was sure it was going to be a previous fire lookout, but after doing a bit of research online it looks like it never was.


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