Purgatory Creek combines tributaries from Lotus Lake (formerly Long Lake), Silver Lake, and a wetland complex. These sources join into one creek, which then squiggles its way south to empty into the Minnesota River. We first encountered Purgatory earlier this year when we walked from Purgatory Creek Park to Staring Lake and back.
A little farther upstream, there’s Purgatory Park, managed by the City of Minnetonka. From there, you can walk south to the Edenbrook Conservation Area, managed by the City of Eden Prairie. And that’s what we did this morning, as a continuing homage to small, local, non-epic hikes.
Two things came to mind as we pulled into the almost full parking lot off Excelsior Boulevard early in the morning: (1) This park is very popular, particularly with the canine set! and (2) Why purgatory? Obviously, people who’ve lived here longer (or forever), know about this park and love it, so any surprise about “popular” is just us not yet being familiar with where we now live.
Catholic theology aside (short answer: Hell is permanent, Purgatory is not), the “purgatory” name seems to have arisen from a “dreadful” encounter with swamps and mosquitos 🦟 here in 1854. They weren’t whiners back then, so those mosquitos must have been truly horrific. Then winter arrived and the purgatory of mosquitos was likely replaced by the purgatory of frozen toes. And so it goes… 🙄
It was a cool, but very sunny day, which helped dispel the slight sadness of walking through a withered landscape caught between the green exuberance of summer and the stark, snowy beauty of winter. Most of the Fall colors have departed and brown is once again the hue of the day. Absent a lot of color, occasionally switching to black and white seemed reasonable.
About 1.3 miles (2.1 km) from the Purgatory Creek parking lot, we came to West 62nd Street (Towline Road) and crossed it under a bridge. Then we went up and west over that bridge to the start of the trail into the Edenbrook Conservation Area. The trails here are more like single-tracks with several long and short boardwalks. These made it possible for us to cross the extensive marsh that covers this area.
The long boardwalk trail took us to a small loop in the center of the conservation area. There are three unsigned spur trails off this loop and we got diverted on to the one that goes to this area’s official parking lot and picnic area off Dell Road. We backtracked from there, found the loop we were looking for, circled it, and headed back to Purgatory across the long boardwalk.
While this isn’t necessarily the most visually inspiring time of year for a walk in the woods, our 4.5 mile (7.2 km) one today was nonetheless a good one. Exercise and sunlight (and no mosquitos) are enough to make any walk worthwhile. It certainly wasn’t any purgatory! 😁 On the way home, we stopped at Del Sur Empanadas, conveniently located just down Excelsior Boulevard from the park. Very good – especially the spinach and feta ones! 🥟😋