Hiking the Hayden Loop (Maple Grove, MN) 24-Apr-2023

Our sense is that most people around here are heartily sick of Winter’s clinginess and Spring’s seeming inability to push it out of here. I know we are. While we wouldn’t have missed our recent burst of delightfully premature summer weather for anything, 😎 this happening only intensified our heartfelt desire to be DONE WITH WINTER! 😠

So Spring lurches on. A few days of gloom and rain and cold. A few dry days of sunshine and less cold. When it offered us (begrudgingly) three days of mostly sunny, dry, warmish (55℉/13℃) weather, we decided to use Day 1 of this bounty to do the unpaved (horse) trail around Hayden Lake in the Elm Creek Park Preserve.

Most of our major rivers are still above flood stage and mud has begun to appear. Finding a dry(ish) trail has its challenges. We figured that this park and Elm Creek were far enough away from a major river to be spared any flooding. We were almost right about that. Almost.

We reached the trailhead at the Eastman Nature Center under a blue sky with ample sunshine. We’d only been on the trail a few minutes before large, puffy clouds started coming and going and sometimes looked fairly ominous. There was no rain, but later we were grazed by a few snowflakes (in April! πŸ˜’). Upside: no bugs and no humidity.

We approach the start of the unpaved trail under blue skies
Starting clockwise on the hiking/horse trail
Through the still leafless woods
Checking out the elaborate trestle that crosses an inlet to Powers Lake
Branches & clouds I
On a mostly dry, not muddy trail
New life emerging
Continuing on north
Branches & clouds II
One of the Diamond Creek headwaters lakes
Reflections on flooded ground
Reflections on another source of Diamond Creek
Branches & clouds III

The west side of the Hayden Loop turned due east at 129th Avenue North and paralleled that street for a while before turning south. Up until here, the unpaved trail had been mostly dry, with just a few soggy (and easily by-passed) spots and almost no mud. We didn’t realize we were being lulled as we started south on our return.

Crossing the prairie at the north end of the Hayden Loop

About a mile (1.6 km) south of 129th, we crossed a low bridge on the unpaved trail, came around a corner, and found the trail disappearing into a flooded Elm Creek! 😲 The bridge for the unpaved trail that we’d just crossed didn’t extend this far. Fortunately, it was just a short backtrack to where we could cross swollen Elm Creek on a stout bridge on the paved trail. As we were doing this, snowflakes appeared. β„πŸ˜ž

The unpaved trail disappears into Elm Creek
On through the now less sunny woods
Reflections in the mud
A large Artist’s Conk – the most common perennial wood decay fungus of dead
and dying hardwood trees

About a half mile (0.8 km) south from where we’d run into a flooded Elm Creek, we ran into flooding from a very full Hayden Lake – which is fed by Elm Creek. Here we were able to bypass this flooded section on a nearby road (Zachary Lane North).

Another flooded section of the unpaved trail
Out on to the prairie again under slightly ominous clouds
Branches & clouds IV

About another mile (1.6 km) along, the unpaved trail again crossed Elm Creek and was (again) flooded. But, again, there was a nearby road bridge (Elm Creek Road) to allow us dry passage over the more than full creek. We should have realized that if big rivers are in flood, small creeks might be as well. πŸ™„

Our third encounter with an exuberant Elm Creek
Almost back to the trailhead under clouds that looked threatening but did nothing beyond a few snow flakes

All in all, a very good hike of 8.3 mi (13.4 km) with a cumulative gain of 400 feet (122 m). One certainly worth doing again after the waters recede and the leaves and wildflowers appear. We were fortunate in that each flooded section we encountered was easily bypassed on a nearby road or bridge. Of course, our ultimate fallback would have been to hike on the paved bike trail – but the unpaved trail is easier on the feet. 😁

Our Hayden Loop starting from the Eastman Nature Center (! = flooded areas)

8 thoughts on “Hiking the Hayden Loop (Maple Grove, MN) 24-Apr-2023

Add yours

  1. Thanks! It may not be quite Spring yet but its also not mosquito, deer fly, or black fly season yet either – and we’re good with that. πŸ˜€ It is, however, already tick season here and we’re NOT good with that. πŸ˜’

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Looks like a glorious day for going on a hike. Your pictures are lovely. Flooding and mud are always an issue this time of the year, but at least the bugs aren’t out yet!


  3. Thanks! I too like “artistic” clouds – not the dark menacing kind or the twirling kind. πŸ₯Ί We’re just getting used to winter and are not ready for tornadoes yet (if ever).


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a website or blog at WordPress.com

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: