Once we knew our trip was extended, I decided I wanted to take a drive and try the Minneapolis Waterfall loop. All in it is a six hour drive with 8 waterfalls, but since we had already seen two of the falls, we decided to head due south and see where the day took us. Since it was a Saturday we knew it might be crowded and we wanted to get as early a start as possible. We downloaded the google maps directions from the website and headed out!
Our first stop was Caron Falls County Park and Jack was excited and ready to go. I was really glad I wore my hiking shoes as the path was slick and longer than expected, but I was sorry we forgot our bug spray. Still, it was worth it when the path ended at a beautiful little falls which I thought would be perfect for senior pictures.
My only complaint was one young couple staked out the best spot and refused to move to let us take a few pictures. That was sort of the theme for the day unfortunately. Next up was Hidden Falls in Nerstrand-Big Woods State Park. The website stated the parking lot was often full by 10am on the weekends and that was absolutely true. Thankfully, we were able to find a spot and after buying a day permit headed down to the falls. Minnesota State Parks cost $7 for day use, but the pass does work for all the state parks. In this case since we planned on hitting at least two state parks it was well worth the fee, especially since the state is maintaining port-a-johns at the locations.
One interesting thing about COVID is they have closed the public restrooms, but most places have replaced them with rental units. This is important to me, especially if we are going on a longish hike, and this location had a ton of them. There were also lots of large groups picnicking and the playgrounds were seeing lots of use. People were sort of trying to social distance, but it wasn’t that easy when larger groups passed buy.
The path was mostly wooden, which was kind of slick, and once again I was glad I had my hiking shoes on. The path came out at the top of a really cool waterfall that you could walk across and take pictures on top of. Lee loved this one the best and once again Jack was cooperative in the picture taking. I think he likes waterfalls too!
It was a longish walk in some pretty cool woods and then we came out at the top of a waterfall. We walked down a few narrow stairs and what a treasure. The best thing about it was you could walk on top of it and take pictures, and people were pretty cool about taking turns.
Next we had an hour long drive to the next two location which were very close to each other. The first stop was Minnemishinona Falls which had a very small parking lot and a decent picnic table. This is my least favorite type of falls, because you can’t get close, the water was muddy, and it was surprisingly crowded.
Lastly we went to Minneopa Falls in Minneopa State Park. Later when people asked me what falls we saw I couldn’t really say because all the names seemed so similar to me. This State Park had a packed Day Use area and tons of people on the walk to the falls. The upper portion was pretty cool because it was paved and you could see both the falls and the rushing river that led to it. That is more rare than you would think because most falls don’t have a strong water source above ground leading to them that you can see.
We probably should had stopped at the top of the falls but we wanted to see where the narrow stairs went.
At the end was a big rock where people were waiting to take a picture. Some folks were swimming out and hanging out right in the falls, but I wasn’t brave enough for that. Unfortunately people were back to aggressively not taking turns and getting close to each other and I started to feel really uncomfortable. I actually said something to a guy who pushed right by us and his response of “The falls aren’t going anywhere” enraged me. I realized that we really shouldn’t have walked down into such a congested area, and this was probably the riskiest behavior we had exhibited since COVID began. We took a couple of pictures and then headed out, but I was really regretting that we had pushed things.
Overall it was an OK day, but probably the worst waterfall day we have ever had. Of course the worst waterfall day is still better than most days so there’s that. COVID is definitely making things more difficult and even outside we have trouble relaxing when there are crowds.
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