Back to Minneopa State Park

When I asked about going to a state park this past Saturday, Ross was looking to go to one that was near a city with a Harbor Freight store. A couple of close ones were in St. Cloud or Mankato. I realize that we could’ve gone to Sibley again, which is on the way to St. Cloud, but we wanted to explore Minneopa State Park some more. Our first trip there earlier this summer was abbreviated by rain, so we wanted to at least hike a trail this time around.

We passed through New Ulm on our way to Mankato. We were on the hunt for a place to have lunch and as we’re driving through the town, we see a street blocked off. I said it was Oktoberfest, so we decided to investigate. We waded into the throng of people drinking beer, visiting, listening to the Schell’s Hobo Band and just having a good time. We bought tickets to get food and drink. The German food stand had a swarm of people around it, so we kept searching. I ended up with cheese curds, and Ross had a pulled pork sandwich. Since we were passing through, we only stuck around the downtown area. But yes, there’s plenty going on with Oktoberfest.

When we reached Mankato, I had Ross drop me off at the mall while he went to Harbor Freight. I got some of my 20,000-plus steps in while traipsing around to the stores I wanted to hit.

It was around 4 in the afternoon when we got to Minneopa State Park. It was a nice day to be out and about, but you could tell it had rained a bit in the last few days. There were sodden leaves that had fallen on the ground, and some of the path was a little wet. The falls are a popular part of the state park, and that’s where you see quite a few people, camera in hand. The fall colors weren’t really out yet, but there were a few reds peeking through the green. The Minnesota State Parks and Trails Facebook page was looking for folks to send in their fun fall photos from the past weekend, which included photos with fall hiking, fall with fur babies, friends, etc. and fall waterfalls and camping. I couldn’t help but oblige (I posted a photo of me at the waterfalls). We ventured down the path close to the waterfall. I’m kind of a cautious hiker when it comes to potentially slippery rocks, so I was slowly maneuvering down the path to the waterfalls. Once I was there, I just basked in the sound of rushing waterfalls and the spray of mist in my face. Yeah, I love being near water — I’m not sure why.

It was a little after 5 p.m. when we went to the bison drive. Since it’s later in the year, the drive closes at 6 p.m. There was a sign telling visitors to tune into 1610 AM for bison facts. So we’re listening to the announcer talk about bison as we slowly drove down the road. We learn how they can run 35 miles per hour, weigh about 2,000 pounds and that a selfie with a bison isn’t worth it. You’re supposed to stay in your vehicle at all times while on the drive as the bison can be dangerous animals.

We reached the Seppmann Mill Overlook, which is a good spot to see the bison. There were a few bison out on the range, and we were able to see them if we zoomed in with Ross’ camera. Others had binoculars. The red sumac was pretty to see as well as we headed back to the truck.

We selected a trail near the bison drive to go hiking. It was almost 6 p.m. by the time we started walking, so time was of the essence since sunset was before 7 p.m. As we’re walking along the path, I noticed a little snake slither off into the woods. The damp smell of the earth filled my lungs. And even though we did put on repellant before we started the hike, the mosquitoes weren’t as bad, almost non-existent.

There were some people out camping as well, enjoying a somewhat decent fall weekend. The trails weren’t challenging, thankfully, although we did end up on one where the bridge was out. So we had to turn around and go back the way we came to reach the truck. By that time, the sun was setting, and pretty soon it would probably be a tad dark to see where we were going. Waterfalls, bison, a productive hike — it was a good outing all around.