LENGTH 4.2 miles
DATE January 30, 2016
MAIN FEATURES Snow Fleas!
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.
We 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.
The 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)
Of 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.
Along 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.