Friday, May 6, 2016

Variety of day hikes await in Afton, Minn.

Bison Observation Platform at Belwin Conservancy near Afton,
Minn. Courtesy of Belwin Conservancy.
St. Croix River beaches, quiet woodlands, and restored prairie await day hikers in the Afton, Minn., area.

The small community sits east of St. Paul just south of Interstate 94 along the Wisconsin border. It boasts a state park, a nature conservancy, and several small city parks.

Among the day hiking trails in the Afton area:
Afton to Lakeland Trail – The 3.4-mile (one-way) trail connects the communities of Afton and Lakeland. Parking is available near either trailhead, which are on Pike Avenue close to the city hall in Afton and at Crocker Park in Lakeland. The trail parallels County Road 18.
Aftonwood Park Walking Path – A trail runs through the 7.74-acre wooded park, which contains a steep ravine. The park is located between Osgood Avenue and County Road 21.
Bison Observation Trail – A short trail leads along a fence and to a 20-foot high observation platform overlooking a prairie area containing bison at Belwin Conservancy. Parking is available at the trailhead, off of Division Street east of Stagecoach Trail north of Afton.
Kettlekamp Prairie TrailAn observation tower overlooking a restored prairie awaits on this trail at the Belwin Conservancy. Though privately owned, the nature preserve just north of Afton is open to the public. The Kettlekamp trail runs about 0.75 miles in the conservancy's northwest corner. Several other trails also can be found at the conservancy.
Meadow Ridge Walking Path – A woodchip path with benches runs through the 10.4-acre Meadow Ridge Park located at the corner of E. Oakgreen Circle and Nybeck Avenue South. Park off of the street.
North River TrailA pleasant walk alongside the widest section of the St. Croix River can be enjoyed on the North River Trail at Minnesota’s Afton State Park. The 2.2-miles round trip also offers the opportunity for a swim to cool off when the walk is all over. Several other trails also can be found at the state park.
Remus Park Trail – A gravel trail runs north-south through the 5-acre park, connecting Parsons Court South and Pheasant Court South. Bicycles and horse riding are allowed on the trail.
Steamboat Park walking paths – Undesignated walking paths wind through the 27-acre city park south of the marina and along the St. Croix River. Mature maples, oaks and cottonwoods grow in the park; be aware that parts of it can flood in spring.

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