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LENGTH 2.9 mile hiking club trail,
DIFFICULTY easy with a couple of hills
DATE VISITED September 3-5, 2021
MAIN FEATURES Scenic State Park is a State Park in North Central Minnesota, located on the ancestral lands of the Ojibwe and Dakota people. Established in 1921, the park encompasses 3,936 acres of virgin pine forests that surround multiple lakes. The park features many activities including hiking, camping, backpacking, swimming, fishing, and boating.
Its tradition! Every year, since our kids were little, we try to squeeze in one last hurrah to celebrate the end of summer with a family camping trip. For several years, we camped with friends at Wisconsin’s Interstate State Park or Baker Park, but now that the kids are older, we have been trying new places. This tradition almost always falls on my husband’s birthday, who is not a fan of tent camping. One year ago, we rented a brand new pop up camper through Outdoorsy (which is kind of like and AirBnB or VRBO for campers) and had fun glamping at Lake Bemidji State Park. Now we have a sweet A Frame camper of our own!
This was our second voyage in the new camper and we’re loving it. We have owned various campers over the years, from musty canvas pop ups, to a fussy VW camper van, and this little camper has just enough comfort and bells and whistles to keep everyone happy. I still enjoy backpacking, and dream of a bikepacking trip one day– but I have to admit that having some creature comforts have made it a great place to rest, relax, paint and catch up on writing. I’ll write more about it in a future post, but wanted to say that if you’ve ever wanted to try camper camping, Outdoorsy has some great rigs varying from tiny, lightweight teardrops to full size RVs that you can rent from private owners. It’s a great way to mix up your adventures and try before you buy. Hope this post inspires you to get out on the trail and enjoy the outdoors in the way that you like the best!
Know Before You Go
Minnesota, like many areas in the country right now have been in a severe drought, and closures and fire bans have been common over the last month. So this is a good reminder to check the conditions of the area you are recreating in to make sure you are following current guidelines and are staying safe. The BWCA, Superior Hiking Trail and Northern State Forest Dispersed Camping sites were closed at the time that we left for our trip, and fire bans enforced. Due to recent rains, the ban was lifted when we got to camp and we heard that previously closed campsites had opened back up due to recent rains. Here’s to vibrant color and more rain this Fall!
We arrived at Scenic State Park on Thursday night and set up our camper in the dark. My plan was to hike 4 nearby Minnesota State Park Hiking Club Trails in the mornings and let my husband get some rest. Set up was surprisingly easy and it was nice to have and extra night of camping to enjoy. Slept great! Friday morning started slow with a cold, soaking rain, in a cozy camper and hot coffee. It reminded me of our trip to Lake Bemidji State Park last year. I wasn’t in a rush to drive to Mc Carthy Beach State Park and stayed in my flannel pajamas until lunchtime. The campground host knocked on the camper door to let us know that burning restrictions had been lifted and campfires and grills are allowed, which should make for some happy campers.
Our hike started along the shoreline boardwalk and then navigated to the hiking club trail from the campground via spur trail. Most people park at the small parking lot just before the ranger station to enter the trail, so keep an eye out if you are visiting for the day. The Minnesota State Park Hiking Club Trail consists of an out and back hike to the end of Chase Point and the continues to the wooded Tell Lake trail for a total of 2.9 miles according to the hiking club trail guidebook. It’s easy to split into two short hikes if you are staying at the park and want to stretch it out or just want to break it into shorter routes.
The Chase Point trail is a .9 mile long esker, formed by glaciers long ago with steep drops into the lake on both sides and towering pines growing on top. This was my favorite area of the park. The pines are enormous and, protecting these giants was one of the reasons that the park came to be. The trail starts with a climb and then levels out along the esker ridgeline. There you will find several splintered trees that look like they have been there for years, and made us wonder if some massive wind storm had knocked these old pines over.
Be sure to hike all the way to the end, where you can descend the wooden stairs to the shore of the lake and catch some beautiful views. I stopped to paint here for a bit and loved the old crooked cedar that grows at the point.
The Tell Lake Trail is a wooded 1.5 mile loop that picks back up across the road from the Hiking Club Trail parking lot and the entrance to the Chase Point Trail. On our final morning at camp, I headed down the 1 mile trail, across the road, to the second section of the Hiking Club Trail wanting to make sure I finished this hike before we headed back home. The campground is still quiet early in the morning and I’m the only one on the trail , enjoying time in the forest before we head back to the city. I was first on the Trail (!) which means I got all those beautiful morning views to myself but also countless spiderwebs in the face. The loop has a few ups and downs and has cross country ski signage in addition to hiking. There was at least one big hill that I had a hard time imagining going down on cross country ski‘s – what a thrill that would be! If you usually hike with hiking sticks you might appreciate them on this trail. I forgot mine back at camp but I found a stick to hike with that was helpful on a couple of hills while my knee still heals.
The Chase Point campground has 69 campsites and there are another 23 in the Lodge campground making a total of 94. The park is also a popular boating destination and offers 5 watercraft campsites on sandwick lake (3 with shelters). I did not visit them, but there are also two backpacking sites on pine lake (both with shelters). And finally, there is also ONE rental cabin at the lodge campground. The park also has free fishing kits to borrow and rowboat, canoe, kayak and paddle board rentals, leaving plenty to see an do during your visit. The women’s showers at the Chase Point campground left much to be desired (and I’m not picky), so…know before you go, and maybe take a swim in the lake.
The electric campsites are close together but are lined with beautiful towering pines that make it feel cozy. Just a short walk from camp, you’ll find lovely boardwalks that line the lake shore with plenty of fishing spots and benches to sit on and enjoy the view.
I hiked 4 nearby Minnesota State Park Hiking Club trails on this trip. While I was out hiking, my husband made friends with the campsite neighbors and every dog that passed by. He’s a good neighbor and really likes to cozy up at camp.
We got home last night and I’m spending the day with family and catching up on things around the garden before the work week starts and we are off on our next adventure. I’m excited to get back to my goal of hiking all of the the Minnesota State Park Hiking Club Trails, and am working on 3 more trip reports from my visit to McCarthy Beach, Big Bog and Schoolcraft State Parks (with a few more up my sleeve). Be sure to hit subscribe and share if you want to stay up to date, see more paintings from the trail and read where we’re off to next! How are you celebrating the end of summer and the start of Fall Hiking Season? Drop me a note in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you!
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Gear Used on This Trip
Goal Zero Torch 250 Flashlight, Kuhl Klash Pants, Wright Socks – Cool mesh tab, Zensah Compression Sleeves, Altra Timps , Altra Gaiters, Leki Micro Vario Trekking Poles , REI Rain Jacket, InReach Mini, Granite Gear Hip Wing, Kula Cloth, Purple Rain Adventure Skirt, Daniel Smith Extra Fine Watercolors, Moleskine Watercolor Notebook, Isabey Travel Paintbrush
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