Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Scenic trails abound in north Chisago Cnty.

Wild River State Park Visitors Center marks the start
of the Amik's Pond and the Windfall trails.
Photo courtesy of  Minnesota DNR.
A prairie, the St. Croix River, and an oak woods are among the many sights awaiting day hikers in the North Branch/Harris area of Minnesota’s northern Chisago County.

A short drive from the northern and eastern Twin Cities, North Branch can be reached via Interstate 35, which runs between Minneapolis/St. Paul and Duluth. Among the highlights of the North Branch/Harris area is the long popular Wild River State Park, which straddles the St. Croix River.

Great day hiking options in the North Branch/Harris area include:
g Amador Prairie Loops – At Wild River State Park, hikers can enjoy one of two routes through a restored prairie on this trail. The smaller of the two loops runs two miles and starts at the Wild River State Park Trail Center.
g Amik’s Pond Trail – Brochures for this nature trail can be picked up at its trailhead next to the Wild River State Park visitor center. It runs one mile.
g Checkerboard Park Trail – A one-mile trail meanders around swimming ponds at the Chisago County park for which the trail is named. The park is on County Road 67 east of North Branch.
g Fish Lake Park trails – Various unnamed paths ramble through Fish Lake County Park west of Harris. Enter the park from Elmcrest Avenue south of County Road 10; parking is free Monday-Thursday except on holidays.
g Mitigwaki Loop – The 1-mile loop heads through an oak woods overlooking Dry Creek. The trailhead is at the Wild River State Park visitor center.
g Pioneer Trail – Day hikers can experience three ecosystems – on oak woods, a savanna, and a prairie – on this loop that leaves from the trail center. Including an access trail, the walk is 3.1-miles round trip.
g River Terrace Loop – The 1.5-mile loop and its stem trail circles through a bottomland forest in Wild River State Park. It offers views of the Old Nevers Dam site on the river.
g Sunrise Prairie Trail – North Branch marks the northern terminus of the 23-mile trail that runs south to Hugo. The trailhead heads south from Minn. Hwy. 95/Main Street between Branch Avenue and Forest Boulevard.
g Windfall Trail – Like the Amik’s Pond Trail, a brochure for this nature trail is located at the Wild River State Park visitor center trailhead. It is 1-mile long.

Learn about trail guidebooks available in the Hittin’ the Trail series.