Walking in the woods, especially when it’s quiet and there’s no one around is one of my favorite things to do. In my area there are a few different places one can go to do that. Today, I was at Big Woods State Park at Nerstrand, Minnesota. Big Woods sits on 2882 acres of Platteville Limestone deposited almost 500 million years ago. Once covered in Spruce forest the climate warmed at the end of the last ice age and produce Oak forest and prairie. 400 to 500 years ago the climate cooled a little and Big Woods became a hardwood forest. Established in 1945, Big Woods State Park is one of the very few places where the Dwarf Trout Lily grows in the entire world. Many other species of flowers and plants grow there as well. A half mile downhill from the visitor center on Prairie Creek is the Hidden Falls. It’s beautiful and noisy when there is Spring runoff but during hot dry Summers it can be reduced to a trickle.
Imagine hundreds of miles of forest! That’s what this area was once like. A person could walk for weeks and never come to the end of the woods. It must have been amazing. I take my camera when I go to shoot wild flowers and other interesting stuff. I didn’t see any deer today but I did see lots of birds and squirrels. And not a single person on the trail. The temperature was only about 45 F when I went and I think people like it a little warmer. The South side trails are closed due to mud but the North side is all open. Some of those trails are muddy in spots as I found, but I got through.
Also in Rice county we have the River Bend Nature Center. It’s located on the Southeast side of Faribault, Minnesota and has 743 acres of woods and prairie. 10 miles of trails will give you a great workout. The center is on the Straight River and a few trails lead to the rivers edge. We also have the Cannon Wilderness park which has 850 acres of wooded river land. Situated on the Cannon river which flows to the Mississippi, the Wilderness park has primitive campsites, hiking and horse trails, picnic shelters, a canoe and kayak launch site and restrooms. The park is closed at the moment due to tornado damage last summer. The Rice county park system includes lots of other spots for hiking, picnicking, and other recreation.
Rice county (where all these parks are) is only 516 square miles and has over 20 lakes! Lots of fishing, boating, and swimming opportunities. (This sounds like a commercial.) Low rolling hills and lots of farm land keeps us rural and that’s the way we like it. I love getting out of town and going to the parks. Fresh air and exercise keeps me from having to buy larger pants.