Nine Mile Creek Rope Ferry (Bloomington, MN) 07-Apr-2023

We got back from our train trip to Texas on April Fool’s Day – the day after a heavy, wet snow storm walloped Minnesota. Flights canceled. Sleeping pads in the airport. Power outages. Car wrecks. Overworked snow plows. All the usual winter fun! 🀨 Winter spit more snow at us after we returned, moving the Twin Cities up to their 3rd snowiest year. πŸ₯Ί

And then, as an added bonus, our 20-year old furnace decided it was done with winter, just done. We’d budgeted for a new one but its replacement still hurt. On the upside, at least it didn’t die in January. 😏

Anyway, it looks like we’ve finally – FINALLY! – reached real Spring! The sun is out. Snow is melting. Bare ground is showing. Winter-traumatized wildflowers are considering an appearance. There are even some mud puddles forming! Oh, Spring! Oh, rapturous joy!

To herald this tardy arrival of Spring, we decided to hike down Nine Mile Creek and up along the Minnesota River to see the rope ferry that takes, at high water, the Minnesota River Bottoms Trail across Nine Mile Creek. We’d been clued in to this ferry by a comment on the hike we did here last December.

It was a beautiful sunny day with just a hint of wind, but still on the cold side when we started (26℉/-3℃). We considered this winter’s last desperate bid to hang on until all of Minnesota gave up and moved to Florida. πŸ˜‰ But as we walked back on what was becoming a warmer and warmer day, it was clear that winter’s reign of thermal suffering had ended. 😎

Our two previous walks along Nine Mile Creek had been during low water at end of summer and when its waters were mixed with ice and snow. Today it was flowing freely at a good clip thanks to the start of the Spring melt. Even more vigorous flows are likely next week as air temps reach 70℉ (21℃) – and maybe even 80℉ (26℃) for a day!

From where we parked at Moir Park, the paved trail was already mostly free of ice and snow. The unpaved trail out to the Minnesota River was mostly walkable snow with a few muddy spots.

Leaving Moir Park, Bloomington, Minesota
Leaving Moir Park
Nine Mile Creek, Bloomington, Minnesota
Nine Mile Creek
Winter was still trying to hang on
Nine Mile Creek, Bloomington, Minnesota
At the junction with the large storm drain today
Nine Mile Creek in winter, Bloomington, Minnesota
Same location ~ December 2022
On the path along Nine Mile Creek, Bloomington, Minnesota
The paved trail was partially melted out
The weir on Nine Mile Creek, Bloomington, Minnesota
Higher water at the weir
Bright waters
Nine Mile Creek, Bloomington, Minnesota
Going downstream
Nine Mile Creek, Bloomington, Minnesota
Rock the waters
Nine Mile Creek, Bloomington, Minnesota
Spring sunlight on the waters
Spring! 😎🌼

The trail out to the Minnesota River crosses a causeway between two marshes. The water in these marshes had already risen enough to put the trail under 6 inches ( 15 cm) of water – not a problem for the tall, waterproof winter boots we were wearing.

But we expect it will get deeper as the melt proceeds and the river rises – possibly to where serious wading is needed to reach the river. Or you simply don’t get across until the waters recede later on toward summer.

Water crosses the trail
Walking through the waters
A thin skim of ice still overs the marsh
Watching Bald Eagles from the bank of the Minnesota River
Watching Bald Eagles from the bank of the Minnesota River

The main trail along the river was still mostly snow covered, so it was sometimes easier to walk on the dry dirt mountain bike trails that parallel it. There were very few muddy spots – which were about as slick as ice and a whole lot messier to fall on. πŸ˜•

On the Minnesota River Bottoms Trail
We reach the ferry

We weren’t sure whether there was an actual ferry here or this was just a spot where there had been a ferry back in the day (like the Bloomington Ferry (now a bridge) upstream). We were intrigued to see that there is a ferry here – a floating pontoon – but one we couldn’t use because its ropes were across the waters. There may be times of the year when water here is low enough for a walk or wade across, but today wasn’t one of those times.

Nine Mile Creek rope ferry, Bloomington, Minnesota
At the ferry
Nine Mile Creek rope ferry, Bloomington, Minnesota
The pontoon and the ferry ropes were across the creek
Nine Mile Creek rope ferry, Bloomington, Minnesota
The pontoon ferry

After no one volunteered to swim across the creek and recover the ferry rope, we decided it was time to head back to Moir Park. I’m not sure we would have given the ferry a go even if the rope had stretched across the creek, as the thought of walking back to the car sopping wet held little (if any) appeal.

Going back on the main trail
Still plenty of snow in spots
And back across the causeway (while we still can)

This trail here is about 10 feet (3 m) above the level of the Minnesota River. Crossing it in the days ahead might be a challenge – unless you favor a swim – because the river is forecast to rise 7 feet (2.1 m) in the next week – not quite to minor flood stage. But there’s A LOT of snow to melt, so it’s easy to imagine the river going even higher (We have some aerial imagery showing the trail here completely covered in water. 😲).

Our walk out and back to the rope ferry – which would have been fun to see in operation – came to 7.0 miles (11.3 km), on a day where the weather started good and only got better and better. It’s beginning to look like “Real Spring” has finally arrived. 😁

Our path to the Nine Mile Creek Ferry (F) – “G” is the hydrograph at Savage

4 thoughts on “Nine Mile Creek Rope Ferry (Bloomington, MN) 07-Apr-2023

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  1. It was fun to see Nine Mile Creek flowing like a “real” creek – tumbling water sounds and small rapids. πŸ˜ƒ As for the furnace. Well, it bravely held on through one more long winter, so what more could we ask? The squirrel nest in the old condenser was, however, a bit of a surprise. 😲


  2. I think we were lucky to do this particular hike when we did. Yes, Spring is now here and the snow is going and it’s going to be warm and sunny (at last 😎). But this warmth is hurrying the huge amount of snow we got this year in to our rivers, so now there are concerns about flooding. Parts of this hike could be under some serious water in the next week or so. But that too will pas and then – summer! 😁

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Glad to hear that it’s finally starting to feel like spring and that the snow is melting. The downside is that the trails can be a bit sodden and muddy this time of year. But those bright blue skies are gorgeous. Good call on turning back at the ferry! I wouldn’t want to cross either with such high water levels!


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