Cottage Grove Ravine (Cottage Grove, MN) 21-Nov-2022

Cottage Grove Regional Park, Minnesota

We favor an early start for our hikes. Well, some of us do. Anyway, early works except when it’s one month from Winter and the shortest day of the year and it’s pitch dark and impressively cold outside at our usual start time. πŸ₯Ά Then our resolve has been known to falter. Motivation somehow becomes scarce and lingering occurs.

Sadly, such was the case this morning. We managed to stall until both the sun and the air temperature rose. By 09.00 it was brilliantly sunny 😎 outside and the air temperature was soaring toward a balmy 32℉ (5.7℃)! Shorts were mentioned but wiser heads prevailed and we went with long pants and puffies instead.

We poked at our bedraggled 60 Hikes guide until it coughed up a short hike that we hadn’t done yet – Cottage Grove Ravine Regional Park (Hike #32). We’ve had some snow but not enough to allow for cross-country skiing (or snowshoeing), so the winter map is not yet in effect and all the trails at this park are still open for hiking.

From the almost new park office (heated restrooms!), we did a loop past Ravine Lake to the park’s northern boundary and back. It’s a small park, so this was the longest route we could conjure up without repeating ourselves or zig-zagging. There is a short snowshoe-only trail on the west side of Ravine Lake but that will have to wait until there’s more snow.

The main trails here are impressively wide (to accommodate groomed ski trails) and all their junctions are numbered, so no issues finding our way as we strolled up and down enjoying the sunshine.

Ravine Lake, Cottage Grove Ravine Regional Park, Minnesota
Ravine Lake
Frozen bubbles
Starting up the South Loop (Green Trail) on spotty snow
Sunlight on snow that only looks deep
On the South Loop
Who says Nordic skiers don’t have a sense of humor?
Sunlight makes all the difference 😎😁
Continuing of the Middle Loop (Yellow Trail)
Shadows and tracks on snow

One thing snow does is show you how many other little life forms there are scurrying about in a forest. Tracks from deer, squirrels, and larger mammals (coyote? fox?) were everywhere. There were even a few blood-soaked divots in the trail where one critter (hawk?) seeming had lunch at the expense of another. Ah, the circle of life… πŸ₯Ί

Now on the North Loop (Red Trail)
The North Loop starts back south at the powerlines – the park’s northern boundary
Mere shadows of our former selves πŸ™„
Going south on the North Loop
Through one of the stands of pine along the trail
Remembrance of leaves past
Advancing along a utility corridor
Berries on snow
Continuing south on the east side of the South Loop
And back to the stylish new park office

Although we managed only 3.2 miles (5.1 km) with about 300 feet (91 m) of gain, it was a good walk through the park’s rolling terrain in near perfect (for November) hiking weather. πŸ˜€ This hike was not long enough or aerobic enough to justify a restorative lunch out, so we bustled home to reheat some leftovers that had not yet taken on a life of their own. πŸ˜πŸ˜‰

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