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Beaver Creek State Park Hiking Club (with a Layover at Frontenac State Park)

After we dropped Meadow off at school on Friday morning I made some last second plans to camp in southern Minnesota this weekend. Once we picked up Meadow we headed towards Red Wing.

Red Wing Brewing has some really great pizza. The crust is something special. So we stopped there for dinner. Getting back to pre-COVID life is a bit strange, but we're getting used to it.


We planned to stay at Beaver Creek Valley State Park and to break up the drive we did one night at one of the cart in sites at Frontenac State Park.

We do like to make more of an adventure out of even a weekend. We pack relatively light making it not too difficult to stay at two state parks.

We got cart-in sites at both parks.

They had done a controlled burn throughout the park since the last time we were here a few weeks ago.

The goofballs were ready for camping.

 Our little site was pretty private. I hate when the cart or walk in sites are still really close together.

Meadow got to try our her new hammock she got for Christmas. 

The purple one. The blue and orange one is mine.

While everyone else enjoyed the lazy life I hiked the Upper and Lower Bluff trails on my own.

 Brooke always wants to get out on a hike right after setting up camp. I don't think the kids feel the same way.


I decided to do the Upper Bluff Trail since we skipped it the last time we were here.

 Scott and I stopped here long before we had kids for a quick stop. I forgot how high you are from the river.


I figured I would keep going to the in Yan Teopa Rock. 


The steps down to the Lower Bluff Trail were not what I was expecting.  

 At this point my little hike was taking longer than expected and I was worried it would be dark when I got back. I started walking quickly to make it back.

With the recent rain and heat, the humidity in the woods were tropical. Then hiking up a million stairs, I was sweating worse than I ever had before.

Brooke was gone for a long time. We just enjoyed the blue skies and lack of bugs.

 When I got back, Scott saw how sweaty I was and said, "You don't look so good".

First thing in the morning the kiddos were back to reading in the hammocks.

Pancakes for breakfast.

In a few weeks this will start looking more lively. 

Its' a little strange seeing everything burned except for the path and the trees that were above the fire.

After a quick drive along the Mississippi and into the Minnesota Driftless Area we were back to one of our favorite state parks, Beaver Creek Valley.

I love all the creek crossings in this park. 

We came here years ago when Meadow was one. She actually took her first steps at this park. 
The parks on the North Shore get all the credit, but this place is super special.

Not as secluded as the last site but at least we were next to a creek. 

We munched on some PB and Js before heading out on a long hike.

Of course we had to do the Hiking Club trail while we were here. The trail here is 6.2 miles long. Luckily it was in 2 sections so we did the first one right after setting up camp. 

This is my favorite trail so far that we've done. I've also heard this is the hardest of the Hiking Club trails.

The park is down in a valley. The trail takes you back up to the top. 

It's quite a hike up to the top and the bluffs and hills are steep.
I recently got new hiking boots so was a great trail to try them out.  

I prefer the narrower paths. I don't really like that most of the trails in the state parks are also ski trails in the winter so they are extra wide. 

I wanted to recreate the photo Scott took of Meadow and I the last time we were here. 

Neither of us could remember exactly how it looked. Eh close enough.

Theo was leading our way most of the hike.

We did see occasional hikers atop the trails.

Up and up we went. 

We found the hole in the rock. Both kids were too scared to peek in. 

Theo had hiked all the way up himself, then he was ready to be carried. 

This place is as picturesque as any of the more popular destinations along the North Shore or along the Mississippi.

Oh a rock to climb on! 

Meadow and Theo found an inch worm friend.

Once we made it back down into the valley the spring fed creek was so refreshing.
It was very hot and humid.

It was too pretty to be true. It feels like we were at conservatory. 

Theo tried cooling mama down.

We still had to hike back to our campsite. 

The West Rim Trail was way less busy. We even saw two foxes! 
They just snuck out of this pic.

Near the end we found a cool overlook to climb up.

With how long it took us to hike the first half I thought we'd get back to our site late, but the trail back was much easier and quicker. 
Easy packaged rice and beans with some banana chips for dinner. Our days of complicated camp cooking are long over.

 We promised the kids roasted marshmallows. We don't really do fires when we camp, mostly because we aren't very good at starting fires. 

In the morning we had pancakes for a second time this weekend.
 Before leaving we had the other portion of the Hiking Club Trail to do. This side mostly followed the creek and was completely flat. Such a difference. 
Brooke has sworn it was hilly over here too, but my memory served me right. An easy hike and beautiful in a totally different way.


 Should have done this side yesterday so the kids could play in the creek.
It was a little chilly on our a second day at the park.



 After a little rain the creek turned misty. 

We could see the half-way point up ahead.
 We finally spotted the password. 

Theo needed  a little break after the first half of the hike.
Once we offered him a snack he was back on the trail.
 Somehow we missed this when we walked by the first time.

Our kiddos are such good sports hiking.
A quick trip to the playground before heading out. 

Meadow wanted to dip her hands in the creek one last time.
 Since we were in the area I had to check out Como Falls.
She was literally like, "We need to go to Como Falls, it's in Hokah," just as we approached the town near the Mississippi River.

The kids didn't want to go, but once at the waterfall they didn't want to leave.
 While the kids were playing we saw a mother duck and her ducklings come down the water fall. Two of babies went the wrong way and headed downstream. We followed them for awhile hoping they could get back to their mama.
They likely did not.

We also spotted trout trying to jump back up the waterfall.
The kids got a few minutes at the waterfall and then we headed for the river road.
We settled on the Lakeview Drive Inn in Winona.
Theo wasn't sure about his smiley fries.

 I'd say we checked off all our favorites this weekend. 
Brooke: Waterfall ✓
Scott: Drive In ✓
Meadow: Rock Climb ✓
Theo: Playground ✓

Also a good hike or two (three for Brooke). Not bad for another last minute adventure.


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