Tuesday, September 2, 2014

State Park #8: Whitewater SP

I needed to get into nature--nay, I craved some nature. After visiting Colorado in August, I yearned to go hiking and climbing and do whatever else you do among trees. Not just walking around a lake; I wanted elevation! I almost gave up that I'd find that in Minnesota. Not that the parks aren't green and vibrant here. They just lack that mountain-y feel.

I got a tip from some coworkers to check out Whitewater State Park near Rochester (Southeast MN) since it has bluffs with views. I had a day off from working at the County Fair so off I went on an Friday adventure. I wanted a park semi-close so I could still sleep in a bit. I had a full jumbo mug of coffee and an audiobook loaded.

I pulled into the Whitewater parking lot not knowing what to expect. I popped into the park shop, had a quick, non-informative conversation with a teenage worker and grabbed a map.

It was an absolutely beautiful day. Humidity was low, sunny but not hot, and a cool breeze. I did the Coyote Point Trail. It started with a steep climb--literally, wooden stairs straight up--that hugged the some dolomite rock walls. I squealed with glee that I was actually climbing albeit stairs. The climb led to a trail covered with oak and maple trees. Although I would have loved hiking with John or other friends, I enjoyed taking my time and going at my own pace. I could star at pretty flowers and listen to the birds. And I hardly saw anyone else around. I had "The Only Living Boy in New York" by Simon and Garfunkel strumming in my head (Thanks to The Current) which made for quite a nice one-song soundtrack to my day.

I sighed with relief and contentment at the first bluff I perched on. This is exactly what I needed. I needed to look down on the world to feel at home *insert joke about me being judgmental*. Whitewater has plenty of overlooks, but it also has surprising meadows that pop out of nowhere, too, full of wildflowers and bird boxes.

After finishing the Coyote Trail, I didn't want to stop hiking so I kept chuggin' to the Chimney Rock outlook. Then I saw I was close to a lookout called Inspiration Point. How can you not go to a place called Inspiration Point? Worth it! My faith in Minnesota has been restored.

I'm very satisfied to add Whitewater State Park to my state park countdown.

The first flight of forest stairs
Rock beats paper? 

Chimney Rock

Whitewater River

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