Many miles of trails through woods and prairie are what you will find here. Bring your dog, but not your bike. These trails are shared between hikers and horseback riders. I’m no expert on horse or bikes, but I imagine it would be best to keep those two types of trail users separate. Crow-Hassan Park Reserve website has all the details.
A new concept I learned by reading a sign here is that when you are walking and equestrians are approaching, the polite thing to do is stop forward motion, move to the side of the trail and speak to the rider. Seems simple enough. It just never crossed my mind that my forward motion might spook the horses. So many interactions in life can be made simpler by considering how your actions are perceived by others. Speaking to each other also helps. My journey of painting and hiking has taught me so much. Sometimes we need to see concepts in multiple ways for them to sink in.
In order to make this hike happen, I had to cancel or reschedule three other things in my calendar. All were things I wanted to do, but a long hike requires a span of hours. Choices had to be made.
We started early and enjoyed the open prairie trails while the weather was cooler. As the temperature climbed we selected the shady trails. At one point I realized I was focusing on my feet to avoid stepping on horse droppings and missing the beautiful views. The risk of giving more attention to the scenery did not disappoint. At the end of the hike my shoes, socks, and lower half of my shins were very dusty, but it was only dust. Not a problem. A pleasant surprise is that I did not encounter any ticks. Usually long grass is where ticks find us.
After lunch in the shady picnic area next to the restrooms and parking lot, my friend needed to carry on with her day and I returned to the trail with a chair to find a shady place to sit and draw. I found one less than a half-mile from the parking lot and drew some birch trees. It was lovely to sit and just notice. Only one trail user and her dog came by my resting spot. It was a pleasant interaction and I was able to meet a dog which I always enjoy.
This park is connected to the Crow-Hassan Dog Off Leash Area so if you want to meet more dogs, crossing the road at the north end will get you there. Parking is also available in the Dog area which is close to the St. Michael exit off the I-94 freeway.
After my trip to California where it was refreshing to see people of color using the trails, on this hike I was reminded that in Minnesota we still have work to do to make our amazing trails places where people of color feel welcome. As always, I am open to comments or suggestions!