Another Hike at Lebanon Hills (Dakota County, MN) 02-May-2023

Lebanon Hills Regional Park seems like one of the most popular venues in the Dakota County parks system. It offers many miles of hiking trails that weave over rolling terrain past various lakes. We’ve hiked there Winter, Summer, and Fall and enjoyed every one of those hikes. So what better way to celebrate Spring’s arrival than with yet another hike in the Hills? πŸ˜ƒ

Our previous visit to Lebanon Hills was at the start of last winter. It was snowy and cold then. Today’s weather was the polar opposite {pun πŸ™„} of that – sunny, clear skies, no bugs, no humidity. It was quite breezy, which made for a chill start but which was most welcome as the day began to warm.

We wanted to try a little different route this time, so we started at Schulze Lake, then went past Marsh Lake, Lily and Bridge Ponds, and around Jensen Lake. From there, we made our way back via Buck Pond, Dakota Lake, and Wood Pond.

Leaving Schulze Lake
Through a colonnade of pines near Marsh Lake
Marsh Lake
Between Marsh and Portage Lakes
Birch about to leaf-out
South of Portage Lake
Somewhere near the horse camp
Reflections on an unnamed pond
Through an avenue of birch trees
More reflections
Onward under the oaks
Lily Pond
The south end of Bridge Pond
Last season’s cattails
Jensen Lake

Except for one trail runner, we’d had the trails to ourselves until we reached Jensen Lake. Then it got busier – not weekend busy – but a few more hikers, dogs, and trail runners. Bald eagles and ospreys were about and various waterfowl bobbed on the waters. Turtles were also out for the season – basking on logs they sometimes shared (perhaps reluctantly) with waterfowl.

Mallard – sleeping with one eye open
A sleeping goose takes up most of a turtle’s basking log

We rounded Jensen Lake and made our way back to Schulze Lake, partially on hiking trails and some on horse trails (but no horses were sighted).

Near Intersection #7
Dakota Lake
And the visitor center area comes into view

This loop came to 6.7 miles (10.7 km), with about 400 feet (122 m) of cumulative gain. It was a very good day for a hike – the kind of day that, in the depths of Winter, seemed like it would never happen. But it did – and we enjoyed the heck out of it. 😁

Not to take anything away from summer, but Spring and Fall have to be the “golden” moments in a hiker’s calendar – moderate weather, fewer (or no) bugs, no humidity, new life in the Spring, and resplendent colors in the Fall. And both seasons appreciated more because of the Winter that just past and the one that is (inevitably) coming.

After the hike, we found our way (Cliff Road being completely blocked by construction) over to the Trail Stop Tavern. It’s a popular place. We’d tried to eat here after our hike last December, but then it (and its parking lot) were packed, with a long wait. Today it was not and we went right in and replenished our energy reserves. πŸ”πŸ₯€πŸ˜‹


2 thoughts on “Another Hike at Lebanon Hills (Dakota County, MN) 02-May-2023

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  1. My enduring flirtation with photography began in high school with a simple Kodak camera, Tri-X film, and chemicals in the darkroom. It soon shifted to various 35 mm analog cameras and color slide films. This match continued for the next 30 odd years. It was a tough transition, but I went digital around 2008 and have since gone through almost annual generations of cameras and processing software.

    In the last few years, I seem to have settled on the following: (1) An Olympus TG-6 for trips involving water or extra ruggedness, (2) An Olympus E-M10 II with a 14-150 mm lens for flower close-ups and waterfalls, or when I want a viewfinder, and (3) A Samsung S22 Ultra phone camera – which I use a lot (only as a camera) these days, despite it’s lack of ruggedness and it’s file storage issues.

    The small lenses in the phone camera are no match for much bigger, “real” 35 mm lenses but the processing software is vastly superior and compensates greatly for the small lenses. This software is also extremely good at exposure management, particularly HDR. One day, someone is going to fit this software into a top-end, full-frame 35 mm camera and the results will be amazing. True, mere mortals will not be able to afford such a camera, but it will be amazing nonetheless. πŸ™„


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