Wandering Pine is reader-supported. When you buy through our links, we may earn an affiliate commission at no additional cost to you. Thank you! Learn more.
LENGTH 5.5 miles
DATE Jan 6, 2018
MAIN FEATURES Flat trail with views of the river and 9 mile creek.
Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1976 to provide habitat for a large number of migratory waterfowl, fish, and other wildlife species threatened by commercial and industrial development, and to provide environmental education, wildlife recreational opportunities, and interpretive programming for Twin Cities residents. More…
The morning started out at -7 degrees without windchill, but was considerably warmer than last week’s New Year’s day hike. I wore a few less layers and welcomed the sun! On the top layer I wore: a thin wicking shirt, 2 thin fleece shirts, merino wool jacket and a vest. Sounds like a lot of layers, but it was great to be warm with lots of thin layers instead a of a big puffy one. I also tried the neoprene face mask I’ve had laying around for a while. It worked great, but I am still trying to figure out how to protect my eyes without fogging up.
This trail was recommended by a friend (the ninja in the middle) and is popular with trail runners. We saw a few of them pass us while we were out. Not even a mile into our hike, we saw a BIG bald eagle, the first one of the year! A little later we would see a big owl fly by…the rest of the animals at this Wildlife Refuge must have been snuggled up somewhere today. I am always encouraged by the little chickadees that puff up and sing a bright song even on the coldest of days and the little mouse tracks that dot the trail.
The valley trail is mostly flat (with a few hills that were closed due to ice) and easily accessible. The toughest part of the trail for us today was a patch of ice that seemed to be some sort of flow/melt from the hills.
We enjoyed views of Nine Mile Creek, which is popular with mountain bikers and looked in the holes for fish whenever we could.
We hiked around 5.5 miles in the sun. Even on the coldest days the sun makes such difference! The temps were already 10 degrees when we finished our hike!