A walk in Kilen Woods

So we had a rare 70-degree day this past Saturday in the midst of the cold, dreary and sometimes rainy stretch, which prompted Ross and I to decide on a somewhat nearby state park. It had been a little more than four years since we’ve been out to Kilen Woods State Park, which is near Windom, so we headed in that direction.

The 80-some miles flew by as we listened to the tail end of “This American Life” and “Radiolab” on NPR. After Ross grabbed a trail map from the park office we went to the parking area by one of the shelters. A couple of park workers came by on an all-terrain vehicle and told us that some of the trails in the park were flooded or had standing water. These were mainly trails closer to the river. According to the Minnesota DNR website, Kilen Woods has five miles of trails — “moderate trails that take you along a hilly terrain. Trails are best in the spring when prairie and woodland flowers are in bloom. Trails go through prairie, oak savanna and floodplain forest.”

After all the snow and precipitation we had this past winter, the woods were flush with green. The frogs were also in full chorus as we walked along the trail by the river. We were on the park’s Hiking Club trail and fortunately didn’t run into any parts of the trail that we had to wade through.

Besides the frogs, it was pretty quiet in the park, people-wise. When we parked, there was only one other car in the lot. Apparently the campground hadn’t opened yet.

On the trail we did come across a dead deer. I’m not sure what caused its death but it seemed kind of recent. That’s when we turned around — not because of the dead deer, but because the river was higher, and the trail somewhat ended. We found another trail to follow as we marveled at the purple flowers that were in bloom, caught sight of a couple of garter snakes and a bumble bee. Ross said we also scared up a couple of white-tailed deer, but I didn’t see them.

We also spotted things that one wouldn’t normally find in a state park. In a lower part of the park, off the trail, Ross noticed a couple of items that looked like plastic tubs. Upon closer inspection he saw that they were computer monitors. Who would dump computer monitors in a state park? The things people do. And somewhere along the way, Ross picked up the fork part of a potato fork.

We were well into our hike when we finally saw more people out enjoying the weather. I think we were on the prairie trail when another couple was behind us. That’s the only part of our hike where we had to go around standing water. Luckily it was a short stretch, and I didn’t end up with wet shoes or socks.