Thursday, April 2, 2015

Day hikes head to fur trader portage, beaver pond in Wright, Minn., area

Beaver Pond Trail at Savanna Portage State Park.
A beaver pond, a centuries-old portage route, and an intercontinental divide await day hikers in the Wright, Minn., region.

Located in the Minnesota Northwoods, the small town of Wright is the gateway to a state park, a state forest, and a state wildlife management area. The region is fairly easy to reach from the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area; simply take Interstate 35 north, then in Moose Lake exit onto Minn. Hwy. 73 and head north.

Among the great day hikes in the Wright area are:
g Beaver Pond Trail – The 0.6-mile lollipop trail heads to then circles a beaver pond at Savanna Portage State Park in neighboring Aitkin County west of Wright. A parking lot is at the trailhead off of Shumway Lake Road.
g Continental Divide Trail Overlook – The northern end of the Continental Divide Trail offers an overlook to see where waters to the west flow into the Mississippi river and those to the east head to Lake Superior. To the reach the overlook, park at the trailhead for the Old Schoolhouse Trail and hike that to the Continental Divide Trail for a roughly 3.6-mile round trip.
g Kestrel Avenue to Lake 16 Trail – Up to five miles of trails runs through a woodland from Kestrel Avenue west to just shy of Lake 16 in the Savanna State Forest in Aitkin County. Park on the east side of the road at the T-intersection about a half-mile south of the Savanna Portage State Park entrance.
g Salo WMA Impoundment Trail – In the Salo Marsh State Wildlife Management Area south of town, a half-mile jeep trail runs through woodland to where a stream flows into the Salo WMA Impoundment. Park at the trailhead off of 115th Pl.
g Savannah Portage Trail – Families with older teens can experience history by walking across this portage that the first European explorers of the area hiked more than 300 years ago – and that Native Americans used for millennia before. The trail runs six miles one-way (12-miles round trip) in Savanna Portage State Park. It connects overland the watersheds for the Mississippi River and Lake Superior, one of many inland routes that allowed travelers to reach, via water, the North American interior from the Atlantic Ocean.

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