Avid downhill skier and hiker. Love backpacking, camping, water activities, running, rock-climbing, or anything outdoors! Graduate in Bioproducts Engineering where I get my inspiration from nature. My roots are in Min...

Don't Expect Pristine Nature

I was excited to check out this State Park via trail-running and a swim, only to find that most trails had been overtaken by logging roads and the water was so warm that algae had drastically reduced the water clarity. I had to use the beach's showers after my swim to get the green algae out of my suit and hair. Despite the above, the backpacking sites I ran past looked very pleasant, and the Central Sands Nature Trail Loop and Barrens Nature Trail remained untouched by the bulldozer. Also, there appeared to be some nice canoe/kayak/SUP routes on the eastern portion of the park that would be worth checking out. I didn't know about Jello shot island, but will be doing that over running the next time I go!

Easy

Mingo falls is an impressive waterfall, and accessible by a short hike up some stairs! Locals mentioned a rugged trail to left of the falls that allows you to get to the top of it. The rocks are slippery!

Stunning Views, many switchbacks, water is scarce in March.

The West Rim was my first backpacking adventure, and we did an in and out to backcountry site #8. The West Rim from the Grotto trailhead has a lot of switchbacks especially to get to Angel's Landing. Another large switchback portion to reach Cabin Springs. The hard work is worth the views once you are on the sparsely forested plateaus of the West Rim! Heads up there was still some snow in Potato Hollow in March. Also, Cabin Springs was the only place for water so be sure to fill up whenever you can!

Just Beachy

Love the trail by the river! Great place to head towards some sand and have a beach picnic (don't litter!). Also great for running and fall photos.

Running Too!

Great for running as well! Paths are well-paved, so not to strenuous. Look for herons in the spring/summer, and admire the prairie restoration projects going on as well!

Out for a run.

This is a great route for running, but if starting from Franklin heading west across the bridge, you will experience a gradual climb on the West River Road that leads up to the Washington Bridge. Run with a friend in the evening to catch a great sunset behind the city from both bridges (I like Franklin better because it has more trees nearby). The East River flats are also a great place to play frisbee.

Stunning views

The Escarpment trail offers great views from the high ridge. Keep your eyes peeled for Lake Superior on your way back to the lot. Consider backpacking in with a friend (max 6 total) for wilderness camping along the trail, and catch the sunset or sunrise.

Hidden Gem

I love Banning! The ferns, tall pines, and moss-carpeted ground makes you feel like you're in the lush forests of the west coast. It is close enough to Minneapolis to be a quick getaway from the city, and the falls are small, but whimsical. Just off the trail as you near the falls there are some fun rocks/bluffs to scramble over. Definitely dog friendly, but keep your eye out for skunks!

Jump on in.

Looking down the river (as in towards Lake Superior) from the head of the falls, notice the large outcrop of rock? This flat outcrop is a great base to initiate a cannonball from. Did it with some friends when we camped at Gooseberry. In general this is a nice place to swim, but each year the current is VERY different so make sure you test it out before making the leap, and be weary of undercurrents near the waterfall. SAFETY FIRST!

We only did the Monterosso to Vernazza portion because other portions were closed. We left just before the sun started setting, and were in Vernazza for the sunset - which was gorgeous! Bring a change of nicer clothes if you want to have dinner in Vernazza.