LENGTH 4.2 miles
DATE  January 30, 2016

Our first Hiking Club Trail of 2016 was a short trip down to Rice Lake State Park.  Only an hour or so south of the city, it was a nice start to the year.  It’s a smaller park with a fairly short trail but an easy drive from Minneapolis if you need to get your nature fix.

img_4508We were hoping for snow, instead we had an unseasonably warm 43 degree day! Overall, our winter experience of the park was perfect at only 4 miles of total hiking trails. We weren’t looking for a very long hike and it was a great opportunity to cross off one more Hiking Club trail.

img_4517The majority of the trail is on the Rice Lake shoreline. We doubled-back rather than taking the loop because the scenery seemed more interesting. Lots of winter birds at the park and there’s a nice little Eagle Project trail shelter that made for a dry place to stop for lunch. The campsites were totally exposed to the trail and not very secluded. Not sure I’d want to camp there, but we had a blast tromping through the woods on a warm winter day. In addition to snagging another hiking club trail, we got a little start on the 2016 DNR 125 Bike.Boot.Boat challenge. (only 121 mi to go)

img_4519Of course, it wouldn’t be a winter hike without getting lost for a bit.  We got turned around after our lunch at the trail shelter but found our way back after not too long.  Always a humble reminder to know how to use a map even in a small park.

img_4510Along with a finding the world’s largest hawk, we also saw snow fleas for the first time.  Absolutely mind-boggling, these little creatures hopping all over the surface of the snow…  we were greatly amused by them and haven’t seen them since.

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