One holdover from my mountaineering days is a preference for an early start to any outdoor endeavor. The Loved One isn’t as keen on early starts but we usually compromise on getting out earlier than later. Today, however, any enthusiasm for an early start collapsed in the face of a gloomy, cloudy, freezing fog, 2℉ (-16.6℃) morning. 😒

The weather forecast taunted us with possible clearing and sunshine by early afternoon. So we milled around the living room – keeping the cat awake – looking out the window frequently in search of this promised clearing. But, by 09.30, our patience (and the cat’s) had failed and we decided to head out regardless of the gloom awaiting us.

We picked Cedar Lake Farm Regional Park because we hadn’t been there before and because its ungroomed trails were amenable to snowshoes. They are also fairly short, so we could fit in a hike there in what was left of the morning and early afternoon.

But, halfway to the park, the skies began to clear and, by the time we pulled into the park’s lone parking lot, we were in full, glorious sunshine! 😎 True, it was 3℉ (-16.1℃) but that was higher than when we started, so we counted that as a “warming trend.” 😊

As promised, the main lollipop trail here was ungroomed but well signed, with numbered intersections. And we weren’t first tracks, so we had tracks by others to follow. The snow was deep – quite deep off the trail – and ideal for snowshoeing.

At 3℉ (-16.1℃), the brave snowshoer smile is frozen in place
Snowy parking lot at Cedar Lake Regional Park, New Prague, Minnesota
Leaving the parking lot (Intersection 12)
Unblemished snow
Under a snow-flocked canopy
Stalks from summer past
On the trail near Intersection 2
The bridge at Intersection 5

Past Intersection 3, the trail makes its closest approach to Cedar Lake. There’s a picnic table here, but it sits 8 feet (2.4 m) above the lake shore – with no easy access to the shore, particularly if one is wearing snowshoes.

So we went on to Intersection 5 and did a tiny bit of cross-country from there to reach the lake shore. By doing so, we quickly found out how soft and deep the snow is off-trail. But it was a short distance to the lake, which was snow-covered and dotted with fish houses.

On the shore of snow-covered Cedar Lake, Cedar Lake Farm Regional Park, Minnesota
We reach Cedar Lake
Winter at Cedar Lake, Minnesota
Cedar Lake dotted with fish houses (arrow)
Sun and light clouds over Cedar Lake
We leave the lake shore for the established trail
On toward Intersection 7
Open ground on the way to Intersection 9
Sky above, Snow below
Near Intersection 9
Hoarfrost on leaf
Along a property line on the way to Intersection 10
Hoarfrost on twig
Sunlight and frost
Approaching Intersection 1
Shadow
On to the parking lot

Our lollipop route with a detour to the lake shore came to just 3.5 miles (5.6 km). The late start played in our favor as our whole hike was in full sunshine with just a hint of clouds. 😍

We only passed one other person during our visit – as they were postholing mightily back to the trailhead due to a lack of either snowshoes or skis. Well, if you need the exercise… 🙄

The limited choice of trails here might keep this park from being a prime summer hiking locale, but it was ideal for a winter snowshoe – helped along, no doubt, by the near-record snowfall we just got.

The circled numbers are the trail intersections

My faithful and well-used MSR Lightning™ Ascent snowshoes finally showed their age on this hike when one of their bindings broke. 😥 As much as we enjoy giving money to REI, shelling out for a new pair of snowshoes really wasn’t in the budget. Fortunately, for somewhat less money, just the bindings can be replaced with the newest Paragon™ ones. And so they were. 😁

More sunshine and slightly warmer temperatures are forecast. So more snowshoeing lies ahead, only now with new, supposedly more user friendly, bindings. The LovedOne has already hinted that she, too, might like similarly friendlier bindings. So, hello REI… 🤑

BACK TO BLOG POSTS