We wouldn’t normally drive 5 hours round-trip to do a hike. But, with Winter reluctant to leave and Spring hesitant to arrive, we’ve grown desperate. Desperate to continue on with the State Park (Hiking Club) Quest we started when we arrived in Minnesota last year. Desperate to do a new (to us) hike well outside the orbit of the Twin Cities.
Back during the Dark Times (i.e., mid-Winter) we’d concocted a plan (our usual Plan A) to visit 5 state parks – Glacial Lakes, Monson Lake, Big Stone Lakes, Lac qui Parle, Upper Sioux Agency – southwest of St. Cloud, Minnesota, with a night spent in Morris. On paper, in the depths of Winter, it was a wonderful plan.
However, when Spring arrived (sort of), the flaw in Plan A was revealed – we hadn’t figured on the Minnesota River reaching flood stage. Some (or all) of the trails at 2 of the parks – Lac qui Parle & Upper Sioux Agency – were (temporarily we hope) under water. Good-bye Plan A. 😟
So, after the usual rending of garments and gnashing of teeth, we came up with Plan B – an out-and-back day trip to just Glacial Lakes and Monson Lake – which are not near any major river (or even minor creek) and are thus not flooded.
We thought about trying for Big Stone Lakes (also not flooded) too but decided that was too much driving for a day (we added it to a new, as yet unlettered, plan 😉).
We arrived at Glacial Lakes on a classically beautiful Spring day – blue skies, full sun, a few artistically arranged puffy clouds, cool breezes, no humidity, and no bugs.
If Spring had been tardy in the Twin Cities, it was even more so here – little greenery and no wildflowers and Signalness (Mountain) Lake still sporting a skim of ice. But ideal hiking weather! 😎
We stuck to the Hiking Club route, which goes out-and-back, past the lake, and around two loops, to the park’s high point at 1,352 feet (412 m). The rolling hills (Leaf Hills) we crossed are the terminal moraine of one of the glaciers that covered this part of Minnesota during the Wisconsin glaciation.
The Hiking Club says this route is 4.7 miles (7.5 km) but we only recorded 3.5 miles (5.6 km) and can’t readily account for the difference. 🤔 No matter. We got the password and had a soothing ramble on a perfect Spring day. 😁
From Glacial Lakes, we went south for a quick lunch in Benson, then motored over to Monson Lake State Park. The Hiking Club route at Monson is pretty short and we could have combined our hike there with this one at Glacial Lakes. But we decided that each state park we visit deserves its own post, no matter how brief the hike. 😉
Onward the Quest! 🥾BACK TO BLOG POSTS
True, so true. This hike was definitely worth the drive. Plus we got 2 more state parks to add to our Hiking Club quest! 🙂
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While this wasn’t exactly Plan A, at least you were able to come up with a back-up option. We try to make it a point to spend more time hiking than driving, but that hasn’t always happened. And hey, even with a long drive, it’s better than not hiking at all!
I love the rolling hills. The snake? Not so much. That was a long drive in one day. (We’ve done it many times to Redwood County and back; five hours on the road). But it appears you enjoyed visiting the Starbuck area and hiking there.
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Thanks! We also know someone who says no drive longer than the hike. But sometimes you have to make an exception. We’re glad we did in this instance. 😃
Your pictures are always stunning! We use to have a friend that would not spend more hours driving to and from a hike than the hike was long. She missed a lot of interesting areas. Hope the flooding recedes soon.