Saturday, January 24, 2015

Variety of great day hiking options run in Pine City, Minn., area

Fur trading post along the Fur Post Trail.
Photo courtesy of Minnesota Historical Society.
A diverse array of woodlands, wildlife sightings, and a historic trading post await day hikers in the Pine City, Minn., area.

The small town sits about midway between Minneapolis-St. Paul and Duluth-Superior. It can be reached from Interstate 35 from either metro area.

Among the best trails in the Pine City area include:
g Cedar Interpretative Trail – Though short at 0.7 miles, this trail in the Governor Knowles State Forest just across the border in Wisconsin heads through five major lowland plant communities amid a cedar grove. You’ll likely spot the activity and impact of beavers on the landscape.
g Matthew Lourey State Trail – Previously known as the Minnesota-Wisconsin Boundary Trail or Willard Munger Trail East, the Lourey rambles for several miles north-south through Chengwatana State Forest. Tamarack and burr oak dominate the route, with wild turkeys, beavers, mink and muskrat along the way.
g North West Company Fur Post trails – The Fur Post, Snake River and Wetlands nature trails can be combined for 1.5 miles of hiking at the historical site that replicates life in this part of Minnesota during 1804. The Minnesota Historical Society operates the post.
g Redhorse Creek Northern Loop – Some 120 years ago, loggers swept through northeast Minnesota, as they fed a young nation’s growing need for lumber to build homes, make furniture, and lay rail beds. Hikers can see how that era altered the landscape on this roughly 4-mile loop in the Chengwatana State Forest.
g Snake River Campground Trail – About a mile-long trail heads south of the Snake River near the primitive campground site in the Chengwatana State Forest. The pathway runs between the Matthew Lourey State Trail and the St. Croix River with stem trails to the campground.
g Upper Phantom Cross Country Skiing & Hiking Trail – A set of four loops offer a hike of up to 3.7 miles in length at Crex Meadows Wildlife Area across the state line in Wisconsin. The wildlife area is part of one of the largest remaining pine barrens in the state.
g Voyageur Park walking paths – Several trails run through the Pine City park on the Snake River’s north shore. Picnic tables and a carved statue of a voyageur can be found in the park.

Read more about day hiking Northeast Minnesota in my Headin’ to the Cabin: Day Hiking Trails of Northeast Minnesota guidebook.