Tamarack Nature Center

I did a 4.5 mile (7.25 km) walk here on March 20 and did not come close to hiking all the trails. The central loop is paved and was clear of snow but only half a mile (0.8 km). The large parking area is free and the visitor center has clean restrooms. This is a great place for a day hike.

Park sign and snow and deer and trees
They are hard to see, but some deer stared at me as I entered the park. They left soon after I took the photo.

Most of the longer routes are cross country ski trails, but on March 20 I was told at the visitor center that cross country ski season is officially over and it is ok to walk on all trails. The outer loop is what I chose. At one point I tried the middle loop closest to the lake, but I did not have proper footwear for slush and water that deep. I decided to give it some time to dry out and bring tall waterproof boots next time. The next time was April 6 and the tall boots were not needed, but the waterproof feature came in handy.

a bench and a boardwalk that is partly underwater. trees in background
On March 20, the water/slush/ice/snow was up to the seat of this bench. I turned around on that day. This photo was taken on April 6, I walked right through.
oak leaves in slush
I really enjoy the shapes of the oak leaves against the snow and slush.

I did one crossing of a small stream. I spied a tree root under the water that was in just the right spot to make it possible to only get one foot submerged and it did not go over the top of my boot so I was OK. That was kinda fun.

water flowing across a snow covered and tree lined trail
This was on the outer loop near the northwest corner of the park. March 20, 2019
water going across a tree lined path in early spring. All is gray and tan and brown
Same spot, April 6.

Spring has arrived in this part of Minnesota. While it is nice to have a break from walking like a penguin to avoid falling on the icy trails, I am less inspired to take photos. If you are a fan of neutral colors, then now is the time to visit Minnesota. Everything is brown, gray, and tan. This is the muddy, sloppy time. The wonderful part is feeling a breeze on your face without the sting of cold. The air smells of wet leaves. Some might see that as a negative but I find it pleasant to know that the plants are getting what they need to start growing.

ice and an oak leaf and mud and new blades of green grass
Spring in Minnesota! The first bits of green are here and winter is not quite gone.

On April 6, I was able to walk the middle loop called the “acorn” trail. I loved the bright green moss on the fallen logs. A couple ducks walked across the path in front of me. I felt like all was well and good in that moment. The moss reminded me of a time in my past when I searched out the shady, mossy areas for my plein air painting. I am looking forward to more painting outside in the near future.

logs and moss and leaves
The green moss provided much needed color in my day.

Tamarack Nature Center has plenty of opportunity for a variety of hikes. It is a great place to observe the changing of the seasons. Which aspect of a change in season do you look forward to the most?

paved trail winding toward trees in background in winter
Paved trail near the visitor center on March 20, 2019
paved trail winding toward toward trees in background in early spring
The same trail on April 6, 2019

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