We had some absolutely perfect weather this past Sunday, so my sister, niece and I decided to take advantage of it and do some hiking. My niece purchased an annual state park pass, and we are getting lots of use out of it.
We started out in Whitewater State Park, which is near Winona, MN. The list of trails in this park all seem to have one thing in common, the guide describes them as steep and hilly. Personally I’m more of a ‘flat and wooded’ sort of hiker, but I was game to try ‘steep and hilly’ if it meant getting an amazing view. So we headed for the Chimney Rock Trail.
Hmmm, a ‘moderate’ 1 hour hike, that seems easily doable, right?
It starts out pleasantly enough with a stone bridge over the Whitewater River.
As soon as you’re across, you see some steps in front of you.
But that, my friends, is only the beginning. There are over 100 steps leading up to Chimney Rock, interspersed with some narrow, rocky trails.
It was fun to check out Chimney Rock, but I have to admit I wasn’t brave enough to crawl inside (although plenty of others were).
Although going up is physically challenging, for me it’s coming back down that totally freaks me out. I was so focused on not slipping and falling that I didn’t even take any photos on the way down.
But we made it down safely, and then decided maybe the Trout Run Creek Trail, which was described as flat with packed dirt was more our speed.
It was really lovely. We were surrounded by leafy forest that was filled with bird song.
However, we’d only gone a little way down this trail when we saw a turn off for Inspiration Point. There were a couple of hikers coming down from that trail and they told us we really shouldn’t miss it. Sure, it’s steep and there are over 100 more stairs, but it’s so worth it.
And I thought the first trail was scary. Yikes!
If you like narrow, rocky trails with a steep drop off beside you, or lots and lots of rickety wooden stairs, you’ll love this trail.
But I have to agree that it was worth it to get to Inspiration Point.
That being said, none of the three of us were actually brave enough to go stand at the very end of the point. Luckily that other lone hiker went out there so I could include her in my photo to try and capture the scale of the place.
The view was pretty spectacular, even from where we stood (in safety).
Unfortunately my photos definitely don’t do it justice.
I have to confess that my fear of heights kept me from really admiring the beauty up there. And on the way down I was too concerned with not falling to my death to get any photos. But I found this great post on daytripper28.com with good photos of these trails, including a picture of the rather frightening stairs coming down from Inspiration Point, so go check it out if you want to see what I’m talking about.
After making it back to the car in one piece, we decided to head over to Carley State Park. This is a much smaller, and less spectacular, park. But my sister and niece want to get to as many of the Minnesota state parks as possible, and it was just a short distance from Whitewater. We did a quick hike through the woods there just so that they could check it off their list.
We decided to take the scenic route home from there and stop off in Lake City.
If you aren’t familiar, Lake City is located on the Minnesota side of Lake Pepin.
Lake Pepin is a naturally occurring lake on the Mississippi River (ie. it was not created by a man made damn). It’s known as the birthplace of water skiing which was invented here in 1922 (you can read more about that here).
We didn’t realize it beforehand, but Lake City was celebrating Water Ski Days last weekend. We arrived just in time to have roads blocked by the parade, but too early to see the water ski show.
That’s OK, we found a great ice cream place and enjoyed some waffle cones while wandering around lakeside.
As I enjoyed my white chocolate raspberry ice cream I was reminded of what a beautiful state Minnesota is. So tell me, where do you live and what are some of the prettiest spots near you? And are you a fan of steep and hilly, or is flat and wooded more your style as well?