Whitewater State Park

With spring just around the corner and the snow quickly melting in the southern part of Minnesota, we woke up from hibernation to stretch our legs. Our initial plan was to snowshoe in Frontenac State Park. However, we decided against it because it had only 3 inches of reported snow depth. So, we visited Whitewater State Park, which had 2 inches more snow on the ground than earlier.

The morning temperature was in the mid-20Fs with single digits wind chill, but apart from being on the exposed bluff summits, the tall, dense trees did their part to block the nasty wind. Before the hikes, we were pretty adventurous. We wanted to make the strenuous 3.9 miles loop that would ascend and descend the limestone bluffs multiple times. Unfortunately, the snow-covered trails made it difficult to determine the correct paths, and we took a few wrong turns. Ultimately, we followed the river back to the trailhead as our tummies grumbled.

Nevertheless, we still had a great time hiking 3.1 miles for 2.5 hours, where we met several hikers with their dogs on the trails. One couple asked us about the trail conditions from the direction we came from because they were afraid their dogs would pull them off the narrow cliffs. We also stumbled upon a big Pileated Woodpecker with its laugh echoing loudly in the park and many more tiny Downy Woodpeckers at the nearby visitor center. Here’s an interesting fact: male woodpeckers have red patches on their heads.

Bald trees in Whitewater State Park.
Partially frozen Middle Fork Whitewater River.
Planned hike (in yellow) vs actual hike (in red).

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