Interstate State Park: potholes, night hike, and st. croix paddling

Interstate state park was cool

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It was highly recommended to me to check out taylors falls. Misnomer and somewhat of a letdown is that there are no waterfalls. Glad I did not know that because had I known this trip would have never gotten off the group and I would have missed some cool things to see.

THE CAMPSITE
car camping site with bathrooms and trails fairly close by. easy access for a low-key trip, and a fire pit. three of our friends came along.

ON THE WAY
On the way there, you have to check out this sculpture garden (Franconia Sculpture Park, 29836 St.Croix Trail, Franconia, MN). It is made on some guys property and looks like different artists come and do installations. Stuff like a full-size shack suspended 15 ft off the ground moving with the wind, old plow equipment, and a tower made of boom boxes. Crawl around and get going.

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On the way up, we bought firewood at a Freedom gas station. Park rangers had us check for a tag certifying it was from Minnesota and regulated. Fortunately, it was properly tagged…so we didn’t have to burn it illegally…or pay $5 for wood there. So make sure to check in case they check. Got to camp around 1630 and quickly put two tents up (1 we were scared it would rain 2 we weren’t sure if we’d be back before dark). Ran over to the river for canoe rentals.

STUFF TO DO
The canoe rental is $48 for a 7 mile canoe paddle downstream. It includes a bus ride back up. A note at the rental shop indicates the trip could take 4-5 hours. You can make it in less time if you try at all to paddle.

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Paddling along the St. Croix was awesome. Lots of cool rocks, a couple of places to stop and swim or skip rocks, and fish. Snacked and hung out, watching the river go by. As we paddled down further, saw some people off shore catch fish. The current was about 2mph and we made it down early 1915 with no problem. Last shuttle was at 8pm. Had we known would have stopped and swam. Victor tip: bring a watch.

FOOD
That night we started up a fire and roasted corn veggies and steaks. Our friends had some real good quinoa nuggets. We roasted the corn in husk over the fire. Great fire pits at this place. Kinda thin on medium tinder at our site, but you can just break some of your firewood apart. The cowboy ribeye and corn went together great. Probably ate at 9pm and hung out.

GEAR
Car camping allows for comforts. Would have been nice to have some chairs or stadium seats for around the fire. I really want one of these: amazon crazy creek.

Got the sleeping bags and pads all set out. I had a great sleeping pad from costco. Way big and thick and durable. Actually the same one I took on boundary waters trip. Also had an REI flash (thinner, lighter version of the REI stratus)…bought it on 20% off sale for members. Great to inflate/deflate.

Firestarter – link to fire starting tutorial. I tried the cotton balls with petroleum jelly. That stuff catches quick and holds a flame pretty well. It burns hot and made starting a fire a lot easier.

MPLS ADVENTURE
My friend had the idea to do a night hike. Here’s where a little adventure can get thrown into the mix even on an otherwise well manicured trip. Around 11pm we decided to try a 2 mile hike out to the potholes.

We brought a bright headlamp and a hand flashlight and it was plenty of light. Practice safe trail walking and look around every once in a while to make sure there is nothing around. In general, keep an eye on the trail, looking for any trails that might be merging with yours. Makes it hard to find your way back when you turn around and see two (or three!) forks.

The next day we went to the potholes.

Imagine if you took a car sized drill bit and dug down into the ground. Supposedly these were made when some crazy strong current got caught up in eddies behind the boulders. These eddies spun stones around like a huge drill, wearing down the rock.

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The low waterline exposed some ways to walk down to the water which was cool. Do it under your own risk. I am not endorsing unsafe behavior.

SUMMARY
Highlights- Potholes. Night hiking. St croix river paddle / float. Delicious dinner. Outdoor art installations.

We drove up on a saturday and were back in Minneapolis before 3pm on Sunday. Easily accessible for a misplaced adventure.

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