Hiking at C.E. French (Plymouth, MN) 18-Apr-2023

Seventeen days ago, we were digging out from the aftermath of a blizzard. πŸ₯Ά A week later, we were enjoying 4 days of summer. This thoroughly delightful warmth (πŸ˜…) was then pushed aside by yet more rain and snow. The net result of this disorienting whiplash of warmth and water? Many of our major rivers are surging well into flood stage. 😒

These previous storms – plus a forecast for yet more rain (and snow? 😧) – turned today into a three body problem: (1) Complete a home DIY project before the next storm arrived, (2) Complete a hike before the next storm arrived, and (3) Find a place to do (2) that wasn’t flooded or about to be flooded.

We brought an extra brain cell online to help us pick Clifton E. French Regional Park as the site of today’s hike. We hadn’t been there before, so something new. It isn’t near a river, so not flooded. And, it’s close to the home DIY store where we planned to rent a ladder.

We worked out a two-lobed loop on the park’s unpaved trails that had, until fairly recently, been reserved for Nordic skiers. It was a cool but sunny day, with a very light breeze. There are no wildflowers or leaves yet, but no humidity or biting bugs either – so we’ll take that as a win.

Starting out through the Nature Exploration Area
The pond in the Nature Area
Water, water everywhere…
On the Meadow Trail

It’s still too early for wildflowers 🌼 or leaves πŸ‚ but we had plenty of bird sightings, starting with a Barred Owl. Since this is an eastern species, they’re probably pretty common around here. But they’re a less common (so far) invasive out West, so we hadn’t seen many until we got here. Still, we love owls and seeing one under any circumstances is a treat. πŸ¦‰πŸ˜„

Barred Owl
The pond at the inlet to Medicine Lake
Sunlight on the waters (at least for today)
Reflection of a nest box
Continuing on the Meadow Trail
One last patch of snow sheltering in the shade
Continuing south on the Skyline Trail
Going back north on the Medicine Trail
Medicine Lake from the Medicine Trail

The Skyline Trail took us south and the Medicine Trail brought us back north to where we crossed over a pond formed at the inlet to Medicine Lake. Just as we arrived, two Trumpeter Swans flew over and landed in the pond. They didn’t seem to bothered by us and just cruised, in their stately fashion, around the pond. They’re a favorite bird because they’re easy for us eternally novice birders to see and identify. πŸ™„

Reflections on the pond
Another nest box reflection
Trumpeter Swans
Continuing on the Lakeview Trail
Crossing a sidearm of Medicine Lake
Medicine Lake
To the parking lot on the Lagoon Trail

Our walk back from the lake on the Lagoon Trail was serenaded by the sounds of chain saws wielded by park maintenance workers clearing the fallen trees and branches that were clogging (or threatening to clog) the trails and bike paths. That heavy, wet snowfall at the start of the month had been hard on the trees here and elsewhere in MN. πŸ˜₯

Our loop came to just 4.6 miles (7.4 km), which allowed time for a sandwich in Plymouth and an on-time pick-up of a VERY tall ladder from the nearby DIY store. With that in hand (actually on top of the car), we went home, executed some Class 5 moves atop the ladder to fix an electrical issue in the ceiling, then took the ladder back. Another item off the home fix-it list! 😊 It had been a full sunny day of hiking and fixing and it was all good. 😁

Our two-lobe loop at C.E. French

4 thoughts on “Hiking at C.E. French (Plymouth, MN) 18-Apr-2023

Add yours

  1. That’s always the issue with hiking this time of the year, especially right after the snowmelt or major rainfall, is that the trails are bound to be wet and soggy. Looks like you had a beautiful day to go for a hike. And how fun to spot an owl! Great capture!


  2. That beach picture might serve as a Chamber of Commerce ad – as in “visit sunny Minnesota!” – EXCEPT it doesn’t show an air temp of about 40F & a steady breeze. So sunny, yes, but definitely not summer. We’ve added the Owl Center πŸ¦‰ to our list for more MN stuff to do should summer ever arrive. πŸ™„


  3. That first pic can fool me into thinking it’s summer in Minnesota, beach sand and all. I love the owl pic. You might be interested in visiting the International Owl Center in small town Houston in extreme southeastern Minnesota.


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