Recently we stayed in Superior, Wisconsin while in the area for a wedding in Duluth, Minnesota. The wedding took place on Friday night allowing time on Saturday to do some exploring. While planning this trip I came across a state natural area about 15 minutes away from our hotel and thought it looked like a nice scenic drive during the peak of fall colors in that area. Saturday morning I was laying in bed awake and it was still dark out. Well, getting back to sleep was a near impossible task for me, why not take this opportunity to get to Pokegama Wetland State Natural Area around sunrise and see if there is anything wondering about. By the time I arrived daylight was already showing up. A windy and cloudy morning told me the likelihood of seeing much for wildlife was little but the scenery was still worth the effort.
While driving in this state natural area I came upon a couple of trails. this was a little unexpected as they didn’t show up while reading about this spot. The trails are more for skiing than hiking. Still, they are there so why not use them. Turns out, there are a number of trails going through this area I didn’t know about. I’m a sucker for a good trail with nice scenery and a chance to see wildlife. Someplace else to explore if I’m in the area again. The original plan was to drive through this state natural area, stop once and awhile to take pictures and be back at the hotel to grab breakfast with everyone else. Ahh, the best of plans.
Once on the trail I was making good time but the lure of what’s ahead kept motivating me to go further. Getting back in time to have breakfast with everyone else soon disappeared along with being back in about an hour. As I was making my way back to the car I took a wrong turn and did a loop back to trails I had walked earlier making the return that much later. Still, the fall landscape in Northern Wisconsin was more than enough to make this excursion worth while.
Experience Gained: Taking note of the time and direction at the start of the hike using a compass or GPS if there is signal makes getting back to that spot easier. Also, the speed of hiking easier trails is considerably faster especially when I’m the only one hiking. Not that hiking alone is my preference. Sharing the experience is important to me.
During the holiday weekend at the end of May we were camping in the Bluffs near the Mississippi River. Since it was a later spring the water temperatures were colder than usual, it was cloudy and cool so the fishing would likely be slower than we wanted. After a little research we found a couple of trails near by and decided to go for a hike in the bluffs and see if we could find an great view or two.
The forest was so lush and green with a number of beautiful wildflowers beginning to bloom.
This was a 7 mile trail so a little longer hike than we’ve been on before but without any gear should be achievable. Expecting we should be able to hike at a 1.5 mph pace it was expected to take about 4-5 hours total to complete this trail including time to eat and enjoy the views while taking pictures. Past experience taught us to bring along food for a meal as well as a few snacks and water.
As we arrived at the park we found out that this is mostly an ATV trail and very few people actually hike it. As a result the trail was quite muddy in places and we needed to keep a watch for ATV’s as there were many using the trail that weekend. The first half of the trail was lacking much for vistas that we were hoping to see and included a couple of steep hills both up and down to climb. Fortunately the blooming wildflowers and seeing a scarlet tanager made this part of the trail worth the effort. This was the first time I’ve ever seen a scarlet tanager.
Growing a little tired of hiking after walking up the bluff for a second time we were just hoping there were no more major hills to climb down and back up again. Shortly we came upon the first of a couple of locations that over look the Mississippi River and surrounding bluffs. It was at this point we achieved our main goals of this hike which was to see this amazing part of the country from within the top of the bluffs. Here was a view from an area we had not witnessed before.
After taking in the views it was time to head down off the bluffs to the trailhead. If time permits a trip to the locally famous Nelson Cheese Factory for some great ice cream was in order. With that motivation the pace was increased to get back to our cars and head towards our camping location.
For those who are curious, we did make it in time to get our ice cream.
Experiences Gained: Longest hike yet in one day gaining confidence to tackle more difficult hikes on Isle Royale and the Rocky Mountains someday hopefully soon, Saw several scarlet tanagers which are a beautiful, vibrant red bird that migrates to this area for the summer, and enjoyed views of the river and bluffs new to us.