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LENGTH 2 mile hiking club trail (can be increased to 6)
DIFFICULTY Easy with rolling hills
DATE July 4, 2018
MAIN FEATURES Sunny meadows, tall pine forests, swimming beach
My morning started with cajoling my teenagers to come outside and play. It was too hot, they were too tired and they had friends to see. I remember those days.
I arrived by 2pm, hoping that the mid day sun would keep the bugs manageable. The ranger disagreed, but I had heard that this park is pretty legendary for bugs. They are all pretty bad right now with the rain we’ve had, but I set out on the Hiking Club Trail, prepared to run the whole thing if I had to (see Lake Louise State park).
Enter the 2 mile trail from the Visitor center parking lot, right when you drive in. From there, you will walk through a heavily wooded trail to a spot that is currently washed out. It wasn’t a big deal to cross but could pose a challenge to those with limited mobility.
After the washout, the trail opens up into a grassy open area with a shelter to the left. Take a right to stay on the Hiking Club Trail. I wanted to some extra miles, so I ended up coming back to this spot, and taking a left….but follow the signs and take a right the first time so you can get the password.
The trail continues in and out of woods and meadows with high grass (waist high in some spots) and lots and lots of mud. I always wear Permethrin treated socks, shoes and pants when I hike, but broke out the commercial treated Insect Shield Exofficcio Pants and Cabela’s hiking socks Mom got me for this hike. Glad I did. I didn’t see any ticks, but walking though tall grass always weirds me out since that’s where ticks like to hitch a ride. The mosquitoes were thick in a few spots, but I was able to shoo them away with some fancy air turbine moves with my hiking umbrella.
Once I made the Hiking Club loop, I circled back around to cross the trail washout again and hit the Wildlife pond trail loop. This section was very sunny and had the tallest grass.
After the the Hiking Club and Wildlife Pond Loop, I decided I had the time to hike all of the trails that this park had to offer and followed the road for a short distance to the Tall Pine Trail. This was my favorite section. It had a nice hill, topped with…you guessed it, TALL PINES. The fragrance of the pine needles in the hot humid air smelled wonderful and it was full of monarch butterflies and wild flowers. It was the prettiest part of the park and I paused on this short little lollipop loop a few times just to take it in.
From there, I stopped at the lake shore to look around a little and headed down the Echo Lake Trail, following the shore through thick forest to check out the campground. I didn’t spend much time snooping around the campsites because they were all full for the holiday weekend and I was ready to finish this hike and hop in the lake. I saw a lot of boats, camper/trailers and lots of families having a great time. They also had a nice bathroom and shower facility at the end of the trail that I ran into accidentally (a nice to have when you’re camping with little ones).
I backtracked on the Echo Lake Campground trail along the shore of Echo Lake to the Lollipop loop. This loop passes a swimming beach and picnic area and re-enters into the woods for a nice 1 mile loop along the lake.
My hike ended with a rewarding swim in a cool clear lake and a pile of muddy clothes. It felt pretty great since it was 85 degrees and humid for most of my hike.
Unfortunately due to the parks limited holiday hours, I didn’t make it to the geological center. The center features an exhibition that showcases Minnesota’s gemstone, the Lake Superior Agate. Interpretive displays focus on rocks, minerals and geology of Minnesota. Its on my list to check out next time. The great thing about this park is that it is on the way to so many other North Shore destinations and it would be very easy to just stop in and check out as part of another trip.
Have you been to Moose Lake State Park? Got any great tips for fending off the unofficial Minnesota State Bird (the mosquito)? Tell us here!