This park is in Shoreview, Minnesota, USA. Parking is free and there are three lots to choose from. There used to be a beach at the lower parking lot on Snail Lake Blvd but flooding has been a problem in recent years and the beach was closed. For a long time the children’s play structure was still there but it was partially submerged. It looked so melancholy and reminded me of the fact that the years when my own children played there was long ago. Now it has been removed along with the picnic tables. I suppose it is good to have the shoreline return to nature. At the upper parking lot there is still a playground, sand volleyball court, and picnic tables. As I was walking there today I saw children sliding down the icy hill. Usually there is snow there time of year but it is all melted except for a track of ice formed by the sleds that packed down the snow we had about a month ago. This park makes me nostalgic.
There is a pedestrian tunnel from the lower parking lot under the road to my favorite part of the trail, a loop around a wetland that has become a lake since the flooding. One section of it is underwater, but that is no problem today. I was able to walk across the ice. I enjoy walking on a frozen lake if the ice is clearly thick enough to hold me. It is a sensation of connection to nature that is different than walking on land. Hard to explain. It reminded me of when I was a child playing outside in winter and noticing plants and air pockets trapped in ice.
To loop around the small lake is 1.4 miles (2.25 km). From the flooded spot there is a branch of the trail that extends north for another mile (1.6 km). That branch ends at a major road, Highway 96. There is a grocery store and other shops and restaurants if you are willing to cross the road, which can be done at the stoplight nearby. Another option is walk west another mile and go under the pedestrian tunnel near the community center and library. Usually I just touch the big trail map at Highway 96 and turn around. My favorite view on this stretch of trail is the stand of birch next to a small stream with golden long grasses growing in clumps.
Another branch off the loop trail is at the south end of the loop. It goes through a tunnel under Gramsie Road and around another body of water called Grass Lake. If you stay to the east (left) at the fork, you will eventually come to a pedestrian bridge over Interstate Highway 694. I usually turn around before the bridge because on the other side there is not trail, just walking in neighborhoods or industrial areas. From the loop to the highway bridge is 1.3 miles (2.1 km). There are more branches off this trail for cross country skiing. Part of the ski trail goes through the cattails at the edge of the lake. That is another type of nature experience, to be surrounded by plants that are taller than you are. I will do another post at a different time about the rest of the branches off this trail. There is also a dirt trail that is a nature experience all its own.
I met my mileage goal for hiking this week! I set the goal three weeks ago and this is the first time I met it. I made some sort of art four times this week, which is up from the week before, so I think I am moving in the right direction. There is a lot going on for me at the moment, so if I can do this well now, imagine what I could do when things settle down!
Today I sketched my drawstring backpack that I bought from my shop on Redbubble.com. I wanted to make sure that it is a quality product. It is. I am now using it daily when I need to carry more than just a phone and wallet. When walking I can throw it on my back. Today I met a friend for coffee and she warned me that she might be late so I brought my sketchbook and some work. When she arrived I set the bag on the ground next to my feet and when I got up to leave, there it stayed. I did not realize until I got home. I went back for it and luckily a person that works there saved it for me. There are good people in the world.