Does anyone know of a good place to camp for a night or two that’s under 4 hours from the twin cities? We have a 7 year old kiddo and two dogs we’d like to take with us. Fishing spots are a bonus but not required. This would be our first time camping in Minnesota! Thanks in advance for any tips!
Me and 3 friends are trying to plan a trip for the July 11-14th weekend and we need some help picking a campsite. We’re looking for an area with good hiking trails and a lake. Ideally in a more secluded site away from other campers.
If ya’ll have any recommendations that would be super helpful!
i'm curious if anyone on here has experience with the hike-in backpacking camps at st. croix? they're labeled on the map as bear creek and crooked creek camps.
a ranger was telling me a bit about them when i visited last year and they sounded intriguing. they're a several mile hike in and you need to bring your own water, but in exchange there are actually some old bunkhouse sort of structures with a bed platform and screened doors/windows (and free firewood!). with bear creek in particular it seems like you'd be alone for miles around in a pretty huge state park.
haven't found a lot else about them online or from folks i know, so any insights welcomed. thanks!
Happy post-memorial Day! It surprised us by not raining and my kid wasn't feeling very well so instead of spending the whole weekend with his cousins we took advantage of the weather and checked two SE Minnesota destinations off our bucket list. Our original plan was to actually do a two night hike along the SHT, which is what I packed for so don't be surprised to see that I am completely overpacked for a single overnight less than 2 miles from the car.
[First things first, we had to make sure his "new to him" pack fit and wasn't too heavy](https://i.imgur.com/p4mMzhH.jpg) His pack came in at just over 8lbs with water and food which when you weigh 51lbs total definitely slowed him down a bit.
We started by heading south and checking out Beaver Creek Valley State Park. I actually wasn't completely unaware of this park but had seen it come up several times in this subreddit and since our goal was to end up just across the border in Iowa, along 52, this was a great chance to check out somewhere new that was sort of on our way.
We did two short hikes here, starting with the Beaver Creek Trail. The full trial is like 3 miles and follows the Beaver Creek out and back. We did half of it but my son really liked it. It criss-crosses the creek many times and is mostly shaded so it's very comfortable with lots of variety of scenery and animals.
Then we did the Big Spring Trail which is much shorter, I think it ended up being like 1.3 miles total. It follows a different creek to a natural spring area. This is also pretty well shaded and has a couple benches along the way. The only real downside of this hike is that it goes right along the trailer campground so you feel like you're walking through people's backyard.
After these two hikes we hopped into the car and drove a half hour to the Vinegar Ridge Recreational Area that I believe is part of the Money Creek Unit of the Richard Dorer State Forest. I'm not overly knowledgable about this Forest, but it's many smaller managed units of State Forest that all fall under the RJD State Forest name. We picked this one for a few reasons; I wanted a 2ish mile hike (and the map for this one said 1.5 miles), I wanted water on site (although that didn't quite work out), I didn't want to be near the traintracks that go through red wing as I really hated that at Frontenac State Park last month, and I wanted it somewhat near Highway 52 as that again was our goal the next morning.
There are two parking lots for this State Forest, one at a nonreservable campground and another on the main horse trail. We scoped out the campground parking lot and found all the sites full. We weren't planning on staying there but it was nice to see camping season in full swing. It has 8 primitive campsites that line the parking lot and I was pretty annoyed to see the smaller brown sign which states "no camping or fire in non designated campsites". I don't know if that prohibits dispersed camping within the forest or just meant to deter over crowding at this campground specifically. I emailed the DNR and will update this when/if I get a response.
The trail was in great condition and since the trails aren't currently open to horses since the ground is too soft it was very isolated and we never saw another person after leaving the parking lot.
At the end of the trail you come to the paved bike trail and here was really the only mistake we made. You can see in the photo below that if you continue walking straight you follow the trail marked with the orange sign and that leads into the marshland between the trail and the river. If you look to the far left though you can see my son standing in an unmarked clearing and the campsite is only like 50 feet or so down that trail.
The site is specifically listed as a Canoe Campsite on the map but I don't understand that at all. It was, in my opinion, pretty far away from the river and certainly further than I'd like to haul a canoe through shin high sticky muddy marsh. The river itself was pretty high already so I can't imagine it floods the marsh too much closer. Does anyone have any experience canoeing into this site? The site has a shelter, picnic table and a firering with at least as of last weekend a lot of collectible downed firewood available.
I had packed water in just to be safe but brought along a water filter as well to do some recon on available water sources. I would say in a pinch you could obviously get down to the river but it wouldn't be easy or quick, definitely not something you'd want to do multiple times. There was a sign on the bike path saying there was a nearby picnic area that may have running water but we forgot to check. The river, at least at this time, is pretty fast moving and looks pretty sketchy so getting water from there might also be a bit exciting. I'd argue it's best to just pack in water.
The trail itself I consider pretty steep. You basically park on the top of a hill/bluff and hike down to the river valley. This makes for a great hike into camp but I was really dreading if someone else was already at the site since we were loaded down with water and I was still confused from the other sign if we could just find a spot to do true dispersed camping otherwise. I had decided I was going to camp either way but it was very fortunate the campsite was open.
The following morning we hiked back up the hill and drove just a little bit into Iowa to the farmland my grandparents own to meet up with family and go fossil hunting. Decorah Iowa is known for a huge number of fossils that are easy to find. The area was struck by a meteorite 470 million years ago which killed off a large number of creatures and all along the creek beds you can find them. In the winter you can walk along the creek and just pick them out of the banks as the creeks are constantly uncovering new ones.
Hey there hammockers in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area! We're having another "Hammock Gear and Bagel Smear"
Tuesday June 11th at 6:00 PM at Common Roots Cafe
2558 Lyndale Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55405
It's a a casual get together to learn and share ideas. We will start at the cafe, grab a bite and gab a bit. Then, weather permitting, we'll head to some nearby trees where we can hang hammocks and tarps and learn from each others' set ups. Last time we had a couple of gathered end hammocks, a bridge hammock, and a Tensa Solo.
Experienced and not-so-experienced are encouraged to join us!
Around 7pm, we'll head to the east side of The Lake of the Isles. Sunset is around 9pm so it won't go later than that. Bring your gear to show off or come to learn hands on. We are very beginner friendly and inclusive.
Any tips , tricks , suggestions ? Where to camp? I’ve been camping once but I was very little . Everything was set out for me . Me and my boyfriend are planning a camping trip but I’d like some recommendations on where to camp. We plan on staying in a tent . We would like to hike , swim , maybe fish. Any sight seeing . Thank you in advance !