Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Day hiking trails lead to interesting sites near Cromwell, Minn.

Trails that run through a spruce-fir forest, atop a formation left by ice age glaciers, and to a fire tower await day hikers in the Cromwell, Minn., area.

Located west of Duluth, Cromwell is easy to reach via Interstate 35; simply exit onto Minn. Hwy. 210 and head west. Among Cromwell-area day hiking trails are:
g Carl Sandell Trail – Berry picking is common on this trail, which runs through aspen and spruce-fir forests, across upland grass areas, and past alder/willow swamps in the Carl Sandell Wildlife Management Area. Located northwest of town, park off of either Krogh or Homstad roads (both are County Road 122), and take the stem trail for about a mile round trip. Map.
g Corona Ditch Trail – This trail heads through northern Minnesota wetlands in the Kettle Lake State Wildlife Management Area, offering an opportunity to see a number of waterfowl, especially during migrations. The trailhead is east of town on County Road 263, south of Minn. Hwy. 210; when County 263 reaches the state forest, turn left at a T-intersection and park at the end-of-the-road lot; this is an ATV trail that goes over a knoll then into a wetlands with the Corona Ditch Pool on the trail’s left. When the trail comes to T-intersection, turn back for about a 1.8-mile round trip. Map.
g Esker Trail – A ridge of sediment left by a glacier’s meltwater some 10,000 years ago serves as the route for this 1.2-mile round trip hike in Sawyer State Wildlife Management Area. Located southeast of town, from Cromwell take Hwy. 210 then go south on County Road 7; turn right on the road to Sterle Pool, park in the third lot on the pool’s south side, and follow the trail east over a creek to the esker’s top. The ridge is about 1300 feet elevation, a good 120 feet above the valley floor. When the trail comes to T-intersection after descending the esker, turn back. Map.
g Rogers Lake Trail This lollipop trail, in which the stem is far longer than the loop, runs about 7 miles round trip in the Fond Du Lac State Forest, passing the Cromwell Lookout Tower along the way. From town, take Minn. Hwy. 73 north. Turn right/east onto County Road 122 and then left/north onto County Road 120. Finally, go right/east onto County Road 223 (aka State Forest Road). The trailhead is in about a third of a mile, on the road’s right/south side. Map.

Find out about trail guidebooks available in the Hittin’ the Trail series.