Saturday, September 28, 2013

Trails await at little-known Chengwatana SF

Beaver tracks. Illustration courtesy
of Minnesota DNR.
Islands of upland boreal forest in a sea of brushland and marshes make up the little known Chengwatana State Forest along the St. Croix River in Pine County, Minn.

This hidden gem for hikers offers primitive camping sites and has designated trails for off-road and all-terrain vehicles. To reach the state forest, from Interstate 35 take the Beroun Exit onto County Road 14 and follow the signs.

Three major trails make for good day hikes the state forest’s 29,039 acres:
g Matthew Lourey State Trail – The unpaved trail links the St. Croix State Park to in the north to the St. Croix River along the forest’s southeast side. Tamarack and burr oak dominate the Chengwatana, which boasts wild turkeys, beavers, mink and muskrat along the way.
g Redhorse Creek Area Loops – Day hikers can see how the lumberjack era altered the northern Minnesota landscape on this trio of stacked loops. Today, paper birch and bigtooth and quaking aspen have largely replaced yesteryear’s white pine.
g Snake River Campground Trail – About a mile-long trail runs south of the Snake River near the primitive campground site. The pathway runs between the Mathew Lourey State Trail and the St. Croix River with stem trails to the campground.

Read more about day hiking the scenic riverway in my guidebook Hittin’ the Trail: Day Hiking the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway.