Cambridge, Minnesota. Spirit River is not far off Highway 65 and only 45 miles (72 km) north of my studio in Minneapolis. In fact, Central Avenue and Highway 65 are the same road so it is almost a straight line from my studio to this gem of a nature area.
Friends visiting from out of state suggested we walk here. I enjoy exploring places that are new to me and this one did not disappoint. Their dogs had a great time smelling all the wonders of the woods. I love seeing dogs so happy. They walked with me for the first couple miles and then it was time for them to go before the dogs got overheated.
On the opposite shore of the river is a park with picnic shelters, a playground, and a bathroom building with running water. In the heat and humidity the ability to refill our water bottles was much appreciated. Also, clean restrooms with water and soap was a bonus. In the nature area there was a backcountry-style pit toilet near the campsite. No walls. Luckily no other people around. If backcountry-style is not your thing make sure to use the restroom building in the park before you start your hike.
I was in that nature area for about 5 hours on a weekday. After my friends and their dogs left I did not see any other people until the very end. The park on the other side of the river had lots of people swimming and picnicing. I was glad that my day had a good balance of being alone and being with people. I walked a lot and sat a long time in the shade in my folding chair. It is on my to-do list to get a lighter, easier-to-carry chair. This was ok, but I am sure there is a better option. Usually I do not carry a chair, just a plastic sheet to sit on if needed.
Wildlife was sighted. In the south loop just before the transition from woods to grassland a fox ran across my path. That made me happy. I recently painted a few pictures of foxes and have one more unfinished picture of a fox. I wonder why I am noticing foxes lately. Other wildlife included lots of bugs and birds and evidence of beavers. I never actually saw beavers, just the chewed up tree trunks. Bring bug spray if you are here in the summer.
Near the entrance there are tons of raspberry bushes. It was peak berry season and I ate my fill. Delicious.
On social media people have told me about their connections to this place. If you care to add a comment, please do! I’m also curious about that pink flower but probably will not have time to look it up and I could use a good broadlef plantain recipie. Happy exploring, everyone!