We booked a cabin at Lake Maria State Park near Monticello, MN. It is a short drive northwest of the cities.
We parked near the lake and started, what we thought would be, a short walk to our cabin. Needless to say I miscalculated where we were on the map. We walked along the lake and directly towards a marsh. We finally stopped when it looked like the marsh might take us if we went any further.
Eventually we wound around until we ended up at our cabin. It was a great spot next to a little pond of it’s own. There was a light inside that ran on a solar panel just outside of the cabin. It would run for about half an hour before it turned off on its own. It was really nice at night.
Outside of the cabin there was a privy off to the side, almost behind the cabin, but close. It came with a fire pit, a couple of logs to sit on, and a picnic table. It was perfect.
It turns out our parking space was hundreds of yards instead of over a mile. We found it when we took a short walk around our pond. My only other complaint was the wood heat was too much for that little cabin. That was of course our fault. We didn’t really need a fire inside at all. I really liked this cabin setup.
The park was nice. It is a great place to do some bird watching. At least one person was there just to catch a glimpse of the larger birds in the area. I didn’t get a clean shot, but there were some nice looking birds in the area.
This is what I would call a relaxing cabin location and park.
This trail is off of the Gunflint Trail in Superior National Forest. We headed out of our cabin and down the road to the trail head. I starts with a climb. When you get to the first lookout point you can see Hungry Jack Lake and it is big and beautiful.
As you walk further on the trail you have the choice to go left onto Moss Lake Trail or right on Caribou Trail. Stay to the right.
There was this weird moss growing on a lot of the trees. It was somewhere between really pretty and highly concerning.
The trail itself was a little thick. It isn’t a road well traveled for sure, but there were some neat nature sights along the way.
This tree fell over during a storm and ripped its roots right out of the ground.
I saw a toad.
There were lots of pretty wild flowers.
This particular trail was pretty great. There is a lot of up hill and you need to watch your footing. It isn’t an easy trail for everyone, but it isn’t really dangerous either. Most of the best parts are at the beginning although we didn’t do the whole trail. It is pretty far to the next trail and then you still need to get back.
Basically, if you want a one day trip go as far as you want and then turn around. We enjoyed Caribou Rock Trail.
Devil’s Lake State Park, S Lake Road, Baraboo, WI 53913
This place was amazing, but it is also one heck of a hike. Be prepared for your legs to shake. The lake itself was formed by Glaciers and there are these huge rocks all around it that you get to walk up or down depending on the direction you choose to go.
The park requires a sticker. You can pay by the hour, the day, or the year depending on what you need. It is more expensive to have an out of state car, but the prices will not break your bank.
You could get an hour pass and just have a picnic at one of the many picnic tables. It is right along the beach which is a really nice beach. You could even swim in the water if you like. It was too cold for swimming when we went, but that made if perfect for hiking.
There are canoe rentals and the water looks perfect for such an activity.
A lot of the paths that you can walk on were built back in the 1930’s by the Civilian Conservation Corps. As I followed the trail I kept questioning how they could make this path so far into the wilderness with such difficult terrain. When I learned it was done back in the 30’s I realized they did it with real men putting in real work. The history of this park is really interesting. Check out the DNR’s page on the subject.
March out into the woods around Devil’s Lake and make your way to the top of the bluffs. The views are incredible.
Between 1.3 and 1.7 million people will visit this park each year. You should be one of them.
The hike up to Harney Peak in Custer State Park, SD is a long one. You can stay in the park or drive in and walk from one of the parking lots near Sylvan Lake. Block out a full day for this hike. Eat breakfast, take a lunch, and enjoy a dinner somewhere special after. I suggest a shower before dinner.
Harney Peak is the highest natural point in South Dakota. It is nestled in the Black Hills near Mount Rushmore. It is also the highest summit in the U.S. east of the Rocky Mountains. Harney Peak was once used as a fire lookout and the tower that was used is still on the peak. You can go all the way to the top.
If you want to stay in the park and start your trip nice and early you can stay at Sylvan Lake Lodge or in one of the cabins around the lodge.
If you are in amazing shape you can start you walk up to the peak with a nice stroll around Sylvan Lake. If you need all of your energy you skip the lake and take that trip at another time. The is parking at the lake and there is parking a little further to the east.
The Trail 9 starts north of the lake. Trail 4 to the east has more of the extra items to see like Little Devil’s Tower and Cathedral Spires. If you plan on taking these side trails I suggest going to them first so that you have the energy and sense to stay safe getting to them. The Little Devil’s tower trail is nothing to take lightly.
The view from the northern trail, Trail 9 is pretty. I love the fact that they warning signs suggest staying off ledges when it is lightning, but with this statement it suggests that you can walk on any ledge you want at any other time.
The reality is that rock climbing in the area is permitted. You enter at your own risk. You are responsible for your own actions.
Bring water and a snack for the top. Water to keep hydrated, you will need it. The snack is sort of a victory meal for making it. Plus you will probably be on the trails or at the top at meal time. Also bring a camera. The view is amazing.