Now that I finished my travel series of last fall's vacation to the Great West, I can go back and share a few local staycations we did in the fall and winter.
Usually my husband and I do a lot of hiking in the fall. This year we didn't do too much. One reason was that we just returned home from a vacation out west which involved a lot of hiking. Then we took a quick mini vacation to Indiana to see our newest grandson. But probably the biggest reason of all was the fall color was terrible this year. I know you won't believe me, because these pictures are gorgeous, but this was the only weekend in the fall where we had a lot of color. The colors were very late this year, and by the time they did arrive, it quickly got cold and all the leaves dropped to the ground.
For this trip, my husband stayed back at the house to get some work done, and my son and I went hiking alone. I can't even begin to tell you all the envious friends I had who saw the photos on FB and thought how wonderful it was that my son and I went hiking together. "My son would never do anything with me!" several women commented. I had to reassure them that this was the first, and probably last time, that my son and I ever did a solo hike. Don't get me wrong. We had a wonderful time, but this is not usual for us. We are either hiking as a family, or Jordan would hike alone. All summer long, he drove to any state park within two hours from home to go hiking. But he knew this was probably going to be his last hike of the year and the colors would be at full peak and I would want to see them, so he asked me to join him. Isn't that sweet?
This week we decided to try a Minnesota State Park. I live in Wisconsin, but I'm very close to the border of Minnesota, so we can enjoy a lot of their parks too.
Frontenac State Park is located on the Mississippi River in Frontenac, Minnesota, about ten miles from Red Wing. It is known as a "Birdwatcher's Paradise" because of it's location. We saw a huge flock of white birds sitting in the river while we there. I'm not sure what they were as we didn't bring binoculars.
Frontenac State Park has 2,300 acres of diverse landscape: prairies, bluffs, floodplain forests, and hardwood forests.
There are so many trails at this park it was hard to choose. We decided to hike both the Lower and Upper Bluffside trail. They both have amazing views of Lake Pepin and/or the Mississippi River and run perpendicular to each other, but the lower trail is closer to the water's edge. When hiking the lower trail it can feel like you're constantly walking on slant (as pictured by my son's posture in the picture above) because the trail is in the middle of the bluff.
We found this tree that fell over and formed this amazing shape. I said "Oh, I would love it if this would have happened in my yard! I would create a secret garden with it!"
Most of the views of the water on the lower trail look like this. That is water you are seeing through the trees, not just sky. I couldn't help but wonder if one would be able to see the water in the summer when there is more foliage.
The trail could be hard to follow at times with all the leaves on the ground. Thankfully they had markings on the tree and not just the ground to lead the way.
In this photo you can see the water better along with the famous Driftless Region Bluffs in the distance.
I think we did it the right way doing the Lower Bluffside Trail first starting from the South end, because there were a lot of stairs on the north end and it would have been tricky coming down this way.
The Upper Bluffside Trail has the most incredible views with lots of viewing decks.
If you have walking sticks, I highly recommend bringing them on this hike as there are lots of rock steps, steep slopes, and many staircases which can be slippery when it rains or covered with leaves.
I could not get over how beautiful this hike was. It was the perfect combination of fall foliage with water, scenic bluffs, and the most pure blue sky.
This rock is famous in the park. It is named Yan Teopa. You can read more about it in the second photo.
The two trails form a loop that is four miles long.
Yellow was definitely the prominent color when we were there.
There are so many viewing decks on this trail that we didn't even stop at all of them. In the picture below you can see one of the decks.
I think I always drive my son nuts when I go hiking because I'm always stopping to enjoy the beauty and take pictures. I also thinks that's why he normally hikes by himself. 😀
I love the photo below. I remember when we were hiking I was just awestruck with how blue the sky was and the beauty of the sun peeking through the leaves onto the trees.
There were so many more trails I wanted to take in this park, but my son was getting hungry and didn't bring snacks like I did (I offered him some of mine, but he didn't like what I had) and wanted to go into town to get some lunch. We did however hike back to a couple of look-out-points on the map and we sure glad we did because they were breath-taking!
This spot is called "Old Frontenac Overlook" because it overlooks the old town.
I really enjoyed this park and I would like to go back again but this time with my hubby. There were quite a few trails left to explore, and I know he would like to try this one too!
Have A Great Day! Amy
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