Thursday, September 8, 2011

Hiking the Quarry Loop Trail


Here are some pictures from our hike down the Quarry Loop Trail.  This is the best trail at Banning State Park.  It follows the Kettle River and you get to see the various rapids along the way.  Tyler really wanted to have a snack along the river and we did find a nice spot to climb down to and sit on a rock overlooking it.  It was a little nerve racking having two young boys so close the raging rapids, but we kept them far back and I swear every time they moved, either Joel or myself were yelling at them to sit back.  I just kept thinking about those people that went over the falls at Yosemite and how they probably thought it was safe just like I did so I was super careful with how close the boys got.  
Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Banning State Park


Wolf Creek Falls 
This is such an awesome park and we had so much fun here. We left Saturday morning and got there around 3 in the afternoon. Our campsite was #34 and it was awesome. The park ranger said that this was one of the best campsites there. We did a quick hike down the Wolf Creek Falls Trail later that evening. It only took about 20 minutes to get to the Falls. We then went back to camp and Joel started a fire. I made hobo packets for us to eat for dinner and they were delicious. You put sausage, green peppers, onions, mushrooms, potatoes, salt, pepper, and butter in foil and then create a packet out of that and throw it in the coals. You can vary it up with hamburger and other veggies that you like. This park had these bags that you could check out for free and I got the "Around the Campfire" bag for the boys. It had a flashlight, game cards, storybooks, etc. It also had campfire recipes and there was one recipe that I've got to try to remember to try out the next time we go camping. You take cooked sausage link (like a lil smokie) and then you wrap one of the refrigerated breadsticks around it and roast it over the fire. You could dip them in maple syrup too. Definitely going to try this one on our next camping adventure.
Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Plateau Rock Trail


The Plateau Rock Trail is the reason why I wanted to start this blog.  There is zero information from the park on these trails.  Hearing the name Plateau Rock, I thought it would be an awesome view from the top.  A giant rock that you could stand on or something like that.  I couldn't have been more wrong.  This trail is extremely difficult.  It is straight up and there are no steps or even switchbacks to make this easier.  It was slippery and steep.  Drop off on one side, rock face on the other side.  I probably should have turned around, but I just had to get to the top of it.  Surely after all that it would at least have an awesome view, right?  Nope.  Tree cover was too thick to see anything.  The trail does follow along the top of the bluff for a little bit. I was really hoping that there would be another, hopefully easier way down, but no such luck.  At the end of this trail, we found a geo cache stuck in a dead tree.  The boys were fascinated by this.  The way down was even scarier than the way up, but we kept it slow and we all made it down safely.  I do not recommend this trail especially if you have young kids with you.

We also did parts of the Beaver Creek Trail since it connects with Plateau Rock.  This one is a very nice trail.  that follows Beaver Creek.  There are lots of bridges that cross the creek and the boys loved to stop at these and throw rocks in the river.  I don't quite get the fascination of this, but they could spend hours on these bridges throwing rocks, leaves, and sticks in the rushing water. 

I'm hoping that we will get to do another park in August sometime. I have already made reservations for Banning State Park for Labor Day weekend. I'm so excited about this.  Banning Park is so far my absolute favorite park in Minnesota. 
Posted by Picasa

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Steep Rock Trail

My boys on one of the bridges on Steep Rock Trail
View up the blufftop from the bridge

Toad found on the trail
View from the top
On the trail
Trail head

This trail is located in Beaver Valley Creek State Park in Calendonia, MN. It is only .6 miles. There are two places you can start this trail. One is from the campground, which is where we started it from. The other is a short walk from the parking lot, across the suspension bridge. I would not rate this trail as difficult. It can be steep, but it is short and easily doable by most people. The views are stunning from the top and even from that altitude you can still hear the rushing water of Beaver Creek far below. My 5 year old son had no difficulty with this trail at all. As you can see from the picture, my 2 year old would rather ride on Daddy's back.
There was a lot of wildlife on this trail. We saw several chipmunks and two toads. My 5 year old desperately wanted to take one of the toads home with him. Fortunately, we were able to convince him that the forest was its home and it would rather live here than with us. Overall a short and sweet trail. Nothing too exciting on this one, but if you're looking for an easy trail to do in the area, this would be one of them.

Posted by Picasa

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Hole-in-Rock Trail

The trailhead from the tent only campsite.
View from the top

This trail is in the Beaver Valley Creek State Park.
I'm not sure if we were supposed to see an actual hole in the rock. If we were, we missed it. I think we took a wrong turn though.  We started at the trail head in the middle of the tent only campsite.  When we got to the top of this, the trail split, but there were no directions as to which way we should go, so we took the right split.  It probably didn't help that I had left my map at the campsite.  At any rate, the way we went is not very well traveled. The views were nice, but if I go back, we will be taking the left split and not the right. The trail ended at the group campsite so we walked back through the tent only campsite to get back to ours.  
Posted by Picasa

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Beaver Valley Creek State Park

View of Beaver Creek from the Suspension Bridge

My husband and youngest son on the Suspension Bridge

The first crossing to the campsites.  The crossing to the tent only campsite is smaller and just gravel, no pavement.
Spring water bubbling up from the ground.  (more information on this to come)
This park is located in Houston County, Caledonia, MN. It's about an hour's drive from where I live in Winona, MN. It's a beautiful drive among the bluff country of Minnesota. I absolutely love the creeks that run through this park. They are so clear and I love the bubbling sound of the brook as it rushes over the rocks. They also have a nice playground that my two boys loved to play on and a really cool suspension bridge that crosses over Beaver Creek.  The bridge does sway so watch the little ones. 

Campground is nice, but we didn't have a campsite close to the river which I would have preferred. They do have some really awesome tent campsites. We had our camper and so we couldn't get back to the tent sites and it is TENT ONLY. You have to go over another stream crossing to get to it, but these sites all seem really nice. They are surrounded by bluffs on one side and the rushing creek on the other. They are also very spread out and when we were visiting, there were not a lot of tent campers there. I would imagine it would feel like you have the whole place to yourself camped out there. Another thing to note about this park is the bathrooms. I didn't use the shower (it was only one night, people), but I did have to use the restrooms...unfortunately. They are pit toilets and they are super gross. The scariest part of those happened our second day. I took my youngest to the bathroom. He's almost three and I was holding him up so he could pee and he started screaming there was a spider. Honestly, I thought he was talking about all the spider webs that covered the whole inside of the toilets, but they were pretty far down. So I told him not to worry about it. Just go. He finally did, but right after he was done, a black spider crawled out right where he had been. I have no idea what kind of spider it was, but needless to say (1) I felt horrible making my child go pee when that thing could have crawled out and on him at any time and (2) I was super scared to go the bathroom after that. If I was a guy, it might not be so bad, but I really did not want to sit down after seeing what could crawl out of it.

Other than that, the park was great and I would recommend it, especially if you have a camper that has your own bathroom and you can avoid the restrooms there.
Posted by Picasa