Red Wing, MN and Frontenac State Park

In June I ventured out a bit. Just over an hour’s drive from home. I wore a mask when going into gas stations or stores and social distanced on the trails. Frontenac State Park is near the city of Red Wing. I registered for the Red Wing Plein Air “Festival” and chose Frontenac as my location because I wanted a long hike and an uncrowded spot.

This is not my first hike at Frontenac. The trail through the old rock quarry is my favorite kind of hiking: a shady dirt trail with roots and rocks and a view of the river. On my first day there this year, I tried the prairie trail. Something new. It was a hot sunny day so it was not long until I questioned the wisdom of my decision. I enjoyed the variety of plants and birds but missed the shade. Just when I thought I might turn around I noticed an oak tree up ahead. There was a bench under it. I appreciated the cool breeze and relief from the sun. Looking up into the branches, I found my plein air painting subject. After drawing the first stage of my painting I ate my lunch and then continued on the prairie trail and found the wildlife lookout platform, the canoe rentals, and the hike-in campsites.

When I got to the rock quarry later in the afternoon the shade was even more sweet. I returned to Frontenac about a week later to finish the painting and spend more time along the river and the bluff.

On the day I dropped off the painting I decided to walk the riverfront. Red Wing Arts is in the train depot downtown which is also where you will find the tourist information. It is a great place to start your exploration of Red Wing. They have walking/biking maps of a different parts of the city.

The paved trail between Levee Park and Bay Point Park is a little under a mile and goes through the grain elevator property. For those who just said, “through the what?”, the grain elevator is where the grain is stored until it can be loaded for the next leg of its journey. The big trucks and barges and giant ropes are interesting. The trail has fence on both sides to discourage wandering and the lawn is well kept. It is like a theme park version of a grain elevator, but real. If anyone has a photo of that part of the trail, please share. This trail also goes past the Red Wing Yacht Club. The garages on the water are the subject of some of the paintings on display at the Depot.

Bay Point Park has picnic areas, playground, and lots of benches to sit and watch the river. Many of the benches were placed in memory of someone’s loved one. I sat next to one that said, “Jeg elsker deg” after the name. I was glad that I know just enough Norwegian to know that it says, “I love you”. Sitting next to the river I started a new plein air painting. It has He Mni Can (Barn Bluff ) in the background. That was my next stop.

He Mni Can a.k.a. Barn Bluff is a short hike up to a fabulous view of the entire city and surrounding area. The side closest to the river is a trail that is narrow and tricky in spots. The wider flat places are where groups of rock climbers gather. If you have read a lot of my posts, you might know why I considered skipping it. I’m glad I decided to hike here. Yes, I had to walk past people rock climbing and yes it was hard but I did it. I didn’t let fear keep me from doing what I wanted to do. On the way up I took the trail on the other side of the bluff which is just a gradual hill with trees and raspberries. Very pleasant. I could have gone back the same way but I didn’t want to miss out on the shady dirt trail with roots and rocks and the view of the river.

I didn’t get any good photos of a shady dirt trail with roots and rocks and a view of the river. If you have any you would like to share, please do. There must be a reason I chose not to take a photo. I must want to paint an abstraction of this type of trail from memory.

Hope you all are well and finding ways to enjoy the outdoors!

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