Tag Archives: picnic

Schroeder Baking Company, Schroeder, MN

Schroeder Baking Company, Schroeder, MN

Schroeder Baking Company is one of those little gems that you hope to find in your travels.  Every small town has a place where the locals go to visit and eat and drink coffee.  Schroeder Baking Company is one of those places.  Granted I am pretty sure this bakery is possibly the only places in Schroeder, but if there were fifty places you could go, this would still be the place to go.

The food, wow, you cannot go wrong with whatever you decide to order.  We ordered breakfast sandwiches one morning.  They heat them up when you order them and hand them to you in a foil wrapper.  We took ours outside and wiped the morning dew of the picnic table so that we could sit and enjoy these mouthwatering sandwiches.

Jon sampled a few of their different coffees and he loved them.  That says a lot about the taste and quality.  They have a few different beans and flavors.  It is imported from wherever and clearly the good beans.  It is way more than you would expect from a small town and better than a lot of chain coffee shops.

The coffee section of Schroeder Baking Company

The establishment calls themselves a bakery and they deliver on that statement.  Every morning a new selection of baked goods is displayed so that you may make your selection.  The thing is, when it is gone, it is gone, and they sell everything, everyday, so get there early.

Baked goods section of Schroeder Baking Company

The food selections don’t end there.  Schroeder Baking Company also offers pizza, really good pizza.  It is a thinner crust pizza with an incredibly delicious red sauce.  The toppings aren’t “fresh”, the mushrooms come out of a can, but you are in the middle of nowhere and it isn’t a frozen pizza that they are unwrapping and cooking for you.  They put it all together and cook you a fresh pizza which was delicious.  They do simple pizzas so much better up north.

The place is small.  Inside you will find two tables and some chairs.  If you sit at one expect to share it with others.  Outside there is a picnic table or you could put down a blanket and have a picnic.  It is a completely picnic worthy area and there is a very a nice view of nature all around you.

The bakery is just down the street from Superior Ridge Resort Motel if you decide to stay there and not far from the Lutsen Resort.  Temperance River State Park is right in that area as well.  If you are looking for a trail to hike the locals or the staff can point you in the right direction.  They have hiked them all.

The place is busy all the time, but not chaos busy, more like a steady stream.  Again, the food is really, really good, and reasonably priced.  Eat there or take it to go, but stop if you get a chance.  You will not be disappointed.

Nerstrand Big Woods State Park, Nerstrand, MN

Nerstrand Big Woods State Park, Nerstrand, MN

There is a hidden falls.  That is really about all there is to say about Nerstrand Big Woods State Park.  The loops are fairly small near the center.  It is easy to get to the hidden falls.  It is a good starter park.

Hidden falls at Nerstrand

There is a large area for kids to play while you prepare a picnic for the family.  You can then quickly run down and stand in the falls.

If you take some of the other trails you will see a lot of trees and some beautiful flowers.  Lots and lots of pretty flowers.

white and purple flowers

If you want to ease you family into going to a park and you live near this one check it out.  You can work your way up to the longer trails.

Bear Head Lake State Park, Ely, MN

Bear Head Lake State Park, Ely, MN

I am glad I didn’t see any bears while visiting Bear Head Lake State Park.  Of course, it would be a black bear, which are small and easily scared off.  Just don’t come between them and their cubs.

We ate lunch at Bear Head Lake State Park.  There was this building which had a fireplace inside and a fire pit outside.  There was running water and a microwave.  It was all very nice.  Once we heated our food we sat out on the picnic tables next to the swimming beach.

Picnic table and swimming area at Bear Head Lake State Park

There were two paths around the lake and let me tell you there was one path less traveled.  On that path we came across this little guy.  This turtle was scary.  He watched us intensely as we kindly made our way around him.

Scary Turtle

The lake was really pretty, and look, stairs!  I love stairs.  No, really, they mean you can climb or descend a path without the Earth crumbling beneath you.

Stairs down to the lake

Just look at that still water.  The next day was a little windier and sunnier.  I loved looking at the reflections on the still day and the brilliance of the lake on the sunny day.

Trees reflecting on the lake
Look at those trees trying to hide that beautiful lake

Overall I would call this a great nature park.  You have the swimming area if you enjoy that.  The building with the fireplace and microwave was very convenient.  The hiking was beautiful and allowed us to see that prehistoric turtle.  That guy looked like he was straight out of history.  If you are looking for hiking or swimming I would say this is a good park for you.  It also made a nice place to eat a meal.

Afton State Park

Afton State Park is fantastic for hiking and outdoor activities.  Website

Afton State Park has some of the best and most challenging hiking trails around the twin cities area.  They have wooded areas, prairie areas, riverside, and some paved.

The park is huge.  It will take you more than one day to walk the entire park.  Granted most people do not take advantage of the long trails away from the riverside trail, but for those of you adventurous enough to explore these trails have a lot to offer.

Trail map of Afton State Park

You will need a pass to get into the park.  If you plan on going more than a couple of times to any state parks in Minnesota get the yearly pass.

At the entrance there is a ton of parking.  There are picnic tables and open areas that you can put down a blanket and enjoy the day.  picnic tables at Afton Park

I have seen weddings held at this park, or at least the pictures.  The background is beautiful.  If you adventure down the steps (there is a handicap trail too I think) you can see a bridge and past that leads to the riverside eating area.

Afton State Park 21

A little bit further you can walk the trail that runs along the river.  To the right (north) the trail ends eventually.  To the right (south) the trail eventually goes up a very large hill and circles back around to the main area.  Most people just turn around at the bottom of the hill, but if you can walk up it the sights are nice.

The hill that leads up to the backpack camping is a brutal.  At the top past the camping area is a little building and some old farm equipment.

Shelter in Afton AlpsIf you head past that there is a single person trail through a heavily wooded area.  It is a bit precarious when the leaves have fallen.  it makes the downhill walk slick and hides rocks on the trail.  This leads back to the picnic area near the river.

Afton Park leaf covered trail

The trails in the Northwest section can be rather intense.  Both in difficulty and distance.  Although Prairie Loop trail is really easy and a little boring the trails off of it are the ones to watch out for and take the time to hike.  The northern portion of prairie loop that is just hiking is really fun.  It gets down to single person trails in this area.  I would say it is good hiking without being too intense.

Trout Brook Loop is a beast.  There are parts of it where they put in steps.  This might be my favorite hiking area in all of Afton State Park and the most likely to kill me.  The climb/walk up is intense.  The big hill down seems like it will go on forever.  When you get out you can stop and rest at the picnic table and stare at the last hill you will need to climb to get back.  Challenging, but rewarding in my book.

The hill that leads away from Trout Loop

There are some simple trails in the southern area.  You can avoid walking up the giant hill at the end of the river trail by approaching it from this direction.  Bench in Afton ParkYou will walk down instead of up and there is a bench at the bottom as your reward.  Then you can walk along the river trail and the only difficult part is the end with the steps to get back to the main area, but you can walk up some, rest and walk up the remaining ones.

Deer Valley Loop in the southwest part of the park is a real hiking trail.  It is a lot of single file hiking, but there are a lot of neat things to see in that area.  I suggest making sure you can handle this one before you try your hand at Trout Brook Loop.  On separate days of course.

A bridge in Afton State Park

Not sure how you take the tractor ride, but I did see some people on one when we finally made it out of Deer Valley Loop.

tractor giving a trail ride

The park also offers camping, cabins, and yurts to stay in so that you can get the full experience.  It is also nice to be able to just get up and go hiking.

Afton State Park campsite

In the winter there is snow shoe trails.  There are also horse trails for you equestrians.  Did I mention the birds.  Plenty of wildlife to see here.  Pretty blue birds and the occasional deer.  Afton State Park is definitely a place to check out if you want to experience the outdoors.