|Lake Pepin from Frontenac State Park.|
The city of a little more than 5000 sits on Lake Pepin, the widest portion of the Mississippi River. It’s known as “The birthplace of waterskiing,” so appropriately many of its hiking trails are close to the lake. Located a little more than an hour’s drive from Minneapolis-St. Paul, the quickest way to reach it is via U.S. Hwy 61.
Among the great trails in or near Lake City are:
• Bluff Side Loop Trail – Hikers can traverse the top and the base of a bluff looming 430 feet above Lake Pepin at Frontenac State Park northwest of town. The 2.6-mile loop offers impressive views as it heads up and down the steep bluff with a series of wooden stairs and switchbacks. Fall is a particularly good time to visit with the bird migration through the area at its peak and the leaves resplendent in an array of harvest colors.
• Hok-Si-La beach walk – Birdwatching is a popular activity on the half-mile of beachfront at the Hok-Si-La Municipal Park and Campground at the city’s north end on Hwy. 61. The campground sits on a peninsula jutting into Lake Pepin at its midpoint.
• Lake City Concourse – A walk atop a breakwater for the marina runs about 700 feet one way. The masts tall of sailboats rise to one side of the walk while the lake and Wisconsin bluffs beyond stretch across the other. Park in the turnout off of Hwy. 61 near Elm Street.
• Lake City River Walk – This paved route runs 2.5 miles between Roschen Park and Central Point Road. As much of it runs alongside busy Hwy. 61, opt to instead parallel it by walking along the beach. Eagle viewing is excellent here from late February through March.
• Sand Point Trail – Day hikers at Frontenac State Park can take in a great view of Lake Pepin – and maybe glimpse a sea monster while doing so. Reports of Pepie – as the monster locally has come to be known – date to before pioneer times and have occurred as recently as a couple of years ago. The 1.4-mile round trip trail runs to the lake’s shore while heading through a swampy area perfect for creatures of the deep to hide.
Learn about trail guidebooks available in the Hittin’ the Trail series.