The weather here lately has been more like late Summer than late Fall. Great for hiking but not so great if you want the drought to end or Winter activities to begin. But, this being Minnesota and all, Winter wasn’t going to wait forever.

So we did a short overnight trip to continue our state park quest before the snow flew and the Hiking Club trails closed. We also wanted to visit downtown Fargo again – now that it’s been lauded in the New York Times – so we could feel hip without leaving the Midwest. 🙄

We got this last park quest of 2022 going with a visit to Lake Carlos State Park, another one of the state’s glacially sculpted parks. The weather was warm and sunny – high temperature records were falling elsewhere in the state – with a light breeze and puffy, non-threatening clouds. It felt a little surreal to be hiking in such accommodating weather in early November.

The Hiking Club route here took us across a marsh, through a Red Oak forest, around Hidden Lake, and back along the shore of Lake Carlos. This lake – which is 150 feet (46 m) deep in places – was formed by the melting of a huge (as in really, really big) chunk of ice left behind by the retreating glaciers some 10,000+ years ago.

Hidden Lake Trail, Lake Carlos State Park, minnesota
Starting out on the Hidden Lake Trail
Across the marsh at the northeast end of Hidden Lake, Lake Carlos State Park, MN
Across the marsh at the northeast end of Hidden Lake
End of the season in the marsh
Up into the forest
Hidden Lake Trail, Lake Carlos State Park, Minnesota
Under a canopy of Red Oak
Approaching the Red Oak Trail junction
On the Red Oak Trail
Still life

As we were walking along, I began to notice Milkweed pods that had burst open but had not yet fully released the seeds within. Each seed is attached to a fine, filamentous “parachute” which carries it on the breeze to (hopefully) a good spot to germinate. There are 14 species of Milkweed in Minnesota so something must be going well. Botany aside, I got caught up in how these pods looked – at least until The LovedOne lost her considerable patience and I was “encouraged” to move on.

Milkweed 1
Milkweed 2
Milkweed 3
Milkweed 4
Hidden Lake Trail, Lake Carlos State Park, Minnesota
Continuing on the Hidden Lake Trail
A very tall four-trunk birch
Hidden Lake Trail, Lake Carlos State Park, Minnesota
Turning toward Lake Carlos
Lake Carlos, Minnesota
Lake Carlos
On the dock at the Hidden Lake Group Center, Lake Carlos State Park, Minnesota
On the dock at the Hidden Lake Group Center
The shore of Lake Carlos
A last leaf of Fall
Back to the parking lot

The Hiking Club route here is 2.9 miles (4.6 km) and that’s what we did. This hike is a nice mix of marsh, forest, and lake – further enhanced by today’s excellent hiking weather. We had one more park to visit today, before we continued on to Fargo.

Little did we know as we left Lake Carlos that we were also leaving the last vestiges of this unusual “summer in November” weather. Even before today was done, the weather would start becoming more seasonal – that is, cold. 🥶 But we’d have the memories of this clement day at Lake Carlos to (sort of) keep us warm during the cold, dark Winter days ahead. Sort of… 😁🙄

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