A trip to Sibley State Park

Even though summer is my favorite season — the warmer weather, it’s light outside until 9 p.m. and being on or in the water — fall is a close second. I always love seeing the brilliant color of the leaves, and we’ve been trying in vain to catch a glimpse of them in different state parks before they fall to the ground and snow starts to fall.

The Minnesota Department of Resources website has a Fall Color Finder, which features a map showing peak color across the state. As of Thursday, most of northern Minnesota is past peak. There was only a little bit of southeastern Minnesota that was in the 50-75 percent peak zone. It’s a handy tool to use if you want to see what state park to visit on a weekend. When Ross and I went to Minneopa, it was still in the 25-50 percent peak. Last Sunday, we went to Sibley State Park, which was in the 50-75 percent peak. I was hopeful to see some pretty colors but wasn’t sure what would be left with the previous day’s wind and rain.

We took a leisurely route to Sibley, making our way through the Minnesota River Valley. There were some hints of color in the trees, but not a whole lot. And the trip seemed endless. But eventually we made it to Highway 71 leading toward Willmar.

Even though we’ve been to Sibley State Park a few times, I forgot where it’s at in relation to Willmar and New London. It was becoming later in the afternoon by the time we reached the parking lot by the beach store. There was also a chill in the air as the wind picked up slightly. Ross pulled out a neck warmer for me to use. It was blaze orange on one side, just in time for pheasant hunting. There were some folks camping out on a Sunday evening as we hit the Mount Tom Trail.

The color wasn’t terribly vivid, but we did notice the yellows and oranges and an occasional red as we trekked along the trail. We also got another cool sight as we were about to cross a road. There, on one side was a deer, just standing there. It didn’t move for a good while until it joined a couple others in the ditch across the road.

As we walked along, I started to warm up and sweat a little in the neck warmer. We only came across a few other people on the trail. We arrived near our destination around 6 p.m. We weren’t aware there was a “Little Mount Tom” spot, which was a nice overlook of its own. I sat on the bench and took it all in.

The journey to Mount Tom from there didn’t take too long. But we didn’t spend too much time at the observation deck as it was after 6 p.m., and we were losing daylight. We still had to make it back to the beach store parking lot. Along the way, we spotted three deer again. We didn’t know if they were the same trio we saw earlier though. We quickly admired the colors of the trees as we hurriedly made our way down the trail. Soon after, Ross said he could see the lake. But we still had a way to go. The sun had already set as we walked the trail next to the lake. Even though there weren’t a lot of colors with the sunset, it was also a nice view. But I was hoping we’d get to the car before I couldn’t see what was in front of me and I’d trip and fall off the trail. Thankfully we did.

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