Parking is free at Long Lake Park. I almost titled this post Long Lake Park, but the main thing about this post is that this was the first time I noticed a new section of trail that is called Rice Creek Trail North. It is about a mile long and has a nice variety of woods and wetlands.
Many years ago I hiked here and enjoyed the dirt trails overlooking wetlands. Once I spent an afternoon here sitting in a place that seemed very remote. Now there is some type of industrial building in that meadow and a new pedestrian bridge goes over the railroad tracks. After the bridge the paved trail curves away from the industrial building into the wetland. There is a boardwalk that is lovely and then the trail is in the woods again. Every so often a spur trail connects to nearby neighborhoods.
About a mile from the parking lot the trail meets a main road. It is County Road H2. It is possible to walk from here to another section of this trail on the other side of the freeway but I do not enjoy walking next to traffic. I retraced my steps back to Long Lake Park. This photo was taken to illustrate how uninviting it looked to continue walking in that direction. My photo app decided that this was my best photo of the day and added the black and white filter. I guess it does have good contrast and a focal point. The black and white filter adds to the foreboding quality of this point. Maybe someday I will do a long hike in this area but I am not sure what the pedestrian experience is like going across Interstate Highway 35W.
When I returned to Long Lake Park, I decided that my time was almost up. Instead of continuing on the Rice Creek Trail North to see how it meets Rice Creek Trail West, I followed the trail through the park. The shore of Long Lake was on my right for the first 10 minutes until I arrived at the frozen beach. I walked through a picnic area and then into the woods for a short time before returning to the lot where I parked my car. I was very glad that I attached the extra traction on my boots. The kind I use are called Yak Trax. They do not take up much room in my bag and when I slip them onto the soles of my boots I feel so much more sure-footed. We have had some unusual weather for this time of year. Temperatures alternate between freezing and thawing. The trails are partly clear and part ice. I do not want a fall to cause a hiking hiatus.
Lately my artistic interest has been the shape of oak leaves. Today I was struck by the shape of oak branches. They do not have graceful curves like other trees, their branches change direction abruptly. It is as if they keep changing their mind about which way to grow. I can relate to that. Indecision is a constant companion for me.
Before I knew about this new section of trail, I stayed away from Long Lake Park because the trails were not long enough for a satisfying hike. Now I could make this part of a hike that is as long as I want it to be. I just need to make the decision of which way to go.