Itasca State Park

Between Park Rapids and Bemidji, Minnesota is Lake Itasca, the headwaters of the Mississippi River. People from all over the world come to wade across the great Mississippi without even getting their knees wet. The name comes from the Ojibwe word for Great River: Misi-ziibi. From here it flows north to Lake Bemidji before making a u-turn and heading south for over 2,000 miles to the Gulf of Mexico. 2552 miles = 4107 km. That is a long line connecting Minnesota and Louisiana!

Growing up in a Minnesota family that did a lot of camping, I have fond memories of this place at a few different points in my life. Each time we take photos at the rocks and at the post with the words. The post looks the same as I remember from my youth. It must be a replacement because it looks new. I’m glad they kept it the same. If I can find the photo from long ago I’d like to see if the words are the same words. The thought that returns to me each time I am here is about the drops of water that are starting a three month journey. They will become part of a huge river a mile wide, and then an enormous delta, and then the ocean, but for now they are here on my feet. The world is an amazing place.

I wanted to hike at least a short section of the North Country Trail. It is a footpath that goes from Vermont all the way to North Dakota. It passes through the southern edge of Itasca State Park. As it turned out I only hiked about one mile of it. Time, heat, humidity, mosquitos, and concern for personal safety were the obstacles. Another time I will explore more of it. I’ll make sure to bring bug spray and a friend or family member.

For the next hike I decided to select a less remote trail since I was hiking alone again. The Schoolcraft trail starts at the Mary Gibbs Mississippi Headwaters Visitor Center. It is always busy. The trail is about 2 miles (3.2 km) out and back with a loop on the end. I was glad for the sign that told me it was a return trail. I would have had to just turn around since I was running short on time. I think most hikers prefer a loop trail instead of out-and-back. How about you? Let me know in the comments.

I’ve barely scratched the surface of what this park has to offer. There are miles of trails I have not seen yet. I was told by a local person that I must see the big trees. Largest White Pine in Minnesota is here, I believe. That will have to wait for next time. I’ll update this post after my next visit. What questions or comments do you have about this park?

1 Comment

  1. Tammy – I too prefer a loop trail, though I often find things I missed the first pass through when I find myself having to walk back the same way. I’m no botanist, but I do believe that was poison ivy! This post makes me want to get out and hike!

    Like

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