This was one of those hikes when I only had a short time until I needed to be somewhere else. On another day I will give this trail another chance.
My navigation app directed me to park in the lot on 69th Ave NE in Fridley, MN. It looked like it was a simple right turn off Central Ave. I missed the fact that I should have been on old Central, not new Central. Finally I found the entrance to the parking lot but it was blocked off for the winter. Another sign had an arrow and the words “park entrance”. I followed these signs to a playground at the end of Anoka street. I could see the trail through the trees at the edge of the playground, but a chain link fence was in the way. I walked to the end of the chain link fence and there was a small footpath toward the paved trail. Soon after starting on this path I turned around. A makeshift shelter indicated that this was someone else’s space. Maybe it was a play fort for the kids who live near the playground, maybe not. Either way, I did not stick around. At the other end of the chain link fence I did not see a connection to the paved trail, but it was only about 10 steps away so I went for it. There were other people and their dogs on the trail. I felt safe enough in the daylight, but I do not think I will use this trail in the evenings. I will also find a different place to park next time.
After walking just a few minutes, I came to one of the bridges over Rice Creek. So beautiful. Some ducks were swimming nearby. I remember I have walked this trail before. It was a long time ago and it was summer. That was an afternoon of hiking and sitting on a rock at the water’s edge trying to capture the light and shadow of the water moving around the plants and fallen branches. This trail also connects to other trails so you can walk as far as you like. Those are the positive attributes of this trail.
It was more slippery than I expected. We had some snow last week, and then some warm weather, and then it turned cold again just before a little more snow. I had my hiking boots on but still slid on the snow-dusted ice. I have extra traction I can attach to the soles of my boots and I will bring those on all my hikes from now till spring.
On this trail you will see many beautiful things but you will probably also see some trash. I wonder what story is behind the placement of these items? Did someone feel they had no choice but to leave their belongings here? Is it carelessness? Vandalism? I have no right to judge, I just wish the area was free from garbage. If there is a volunteer organization for this area, I hope someone lets me know about it.
I am glad that this jewel of nature exists in this neighborhood that is a mix of residential and commercial land. It could use some attention to make it cleaner and safer, but at least parking is free. This would be a great place to cross country ski if we had more snow.