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Exploring state parks

May 25, 2013
By Cindy Votruba , Marshall Independent

Ross and I try to get out to Minnesota's state parks whenever we can. Well, we gotta make use of the annual park permit that either he or I may get. We haven't been to too many together, but we definitely make the most of our journeys.

When coming back from a trip to Rochester last October, we stumbled across a sign that signaled for Sakatah Lake State Park. Even though it was a little later in the day, we decided to take a little hike. It's kind of a smaller park, and we were the only ones in there at the time until a man with a large camera was going out to take photos of birds.

So earlier this week, the Minneapolis Star Tribune put out a "Best of Minnesota" segment, which features the best food, drink, style, arts, getaways and recreation throughout the state. It seemed like most of the food and recreation was around the Twin Cities, but there were a few that were outside the metro area. Heck, there's even a best Zumba instructor on the recreation list (by the way, Zumba still is a great and fun form of exercise).

The best getaways include the best hiking trail in the state- Eagle Mountain, which is in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area; the best hiking trail in the Twin Cities - Fort Snelling State Park (may have to check that out sometime) and the best small town for a weekend visit - Northfield.

And I am happy to say that I've been to what was named best state park for 2013 - Gooseberry Falls, which is along the state's North Shore. Of course it was closer when I lived in Duluth, and unfortunately I think that was the last time I've been up there. It's definitely something to see, especially with its five waterfalls and just gorgeous sights. I remember one time just stopping somewhere along a hike with friends and marveling at the blue of Lake Superior. One of these days, I'll have to get back up there, along with Jay Cooke State Park.

The best state park for camper camping is Glacial Lakes State Park, which is near Starbuck. After doing a search of availability around the state to see what was open back in 2009, we rented one of the camper cabins there (we were actually talking about Big Bog State Park, which is like seven hours north of here). I then proceeded to post on Facebook that I was looking forward to going camping. One of my cousins retorted with "you must have a cot or an air mattress if you are really looking forward to camping." It's a nice state park for exploring with the lake and rolling hills. I wasn't too crazy about the little bugs that kept flying in my face when Ross and I went hiking during our stay there, but I learned to enjoy myself. I also remember I was reading Thomas Maltman's "The Night Birds" for book club by the firepit while our food was cooking. It just seemed like the right setting to enjoy a book.

Our list of state park visits is kind of short - we hit Lac qui Parle and Forestville/Mystery Cave last year; Fort Ridgely the year before. We of course have been to Camden and Upper Sioux. I guess it's time I quit complaining that some of these are too far away and just enjoy the ride and the destination.



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