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A View From Our Deck

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Our Interstate Park Adventure

This is the second week in September.  The weather in Wisconsin has been amazing.  It seems impossible for us to have such perfect weather with other parts of the country suffering so much.   We know that 80 degree temperatures are not going to last so we have to make the most of it.

A few days ago we made plans with friends who are visiting their daughter and grandsons.  We were meeting for breakfast.  Over the weekend we talked about having breakfast with them and then finding someplace fun to go afterward.  We met at 9:30 and visited until noon.  I'm sure the restaurant was ready to kick us out.  After saying our goodbyes, we headed up the highway.  It was such a nice day, we decided to pick up the flowers from the cemetery where my parents are buried.  The flowers have to be off the graves by October 1 or they throw them all away.  It is a two hour trip that we have made many times.  Since I didn't let any of my relatives know we would be in town and I don't think it's nice to just show up unannounced at peoples houses, we didn't stop to visit anyone.  We got back on the road and headed further north toward Eau Claire, Wisconsin.  When we got there, we kept going.  In June my cousin Jean and her husband Thom had posted on Facebook that they visited a state park which was shared with Wisconsin and Minnesota.  I always kept that in my memory.  It is called Interstate State Park near St. Croix Falls, WI.  I had packed a bag for us, just in case we decided not to go home that night.  I'm glad I did.  I booked a room at the Holiday Inn in St. Croix Falls.  Phone apps make that so easy now days.  By 6:00pm we had safely arrived.

In the morning we got up bright and early.  We loaded the car, ate breakfast and checked out.  By 9:30 we were headed for the park which was only three miles away.  Since earlier we purchased a Senior State Park sticker, it didn't cost any additional fee to get in.  Interstate Park is the oldest state park in Wisconsin.  For more than 100 years visitors have come to this area to see the beauty.



There are many trails in the park.  The first one we chose was called the Pothole Trail.  This trail has rough terrain and stone steps but it was only a .4 mile loop.  I have to say, it seemed longer than that.  Glacial potholes could be seen along the trail.  Some of the potholes are small and some are a little larger.


One of many potholes along the trail

Stone steps on the trail.

The trail looks over the gorge of the Dalles of the St. Croix River.  It was a beautiful view.



I made my husband nervous when I climbed up on this rock.  It is straight down behind me.


After we made this loop, we drove to the trail head for the Summit Rock Trail.  This trail took us to the highest point on the bluffs.  It had more beautiful views.


Notice the bridge at the top of the picture.  Later we will cross that bridge into Minnesota.


The Summit Rock Trail descends into the Echo Canyon Trail and connects to the Lake O' the Dalles Trail.  When we finished Summit Rock we drove to the beginning of the Dalles Trail and approached the Echo trail from another direction.  On the road we noticed another observation area.  I saw this sign which was placed in 1938, a hundred years after it was settled.  The CCC camps developed and improved this park from 1935 to 1940.  There are pictures of this process at the visitors center along with other museum collections from the area.



There is a nice parking area across from the  Lake O' The Dalles Trail.  From here you can go to the beach, a playground and picnic area.  We walked down to the lake and then entered the Echo Canyon Trail.



This trail follows an extinct riverbed.  It was a lot cooler along this trail because we were at the bottom of the canyon walls.  Since my husband Mike was a science teacher in his working years, he could point out geological points of interest.  Looking up you see the rocky talus.



Finally we crawled out of the canyon.  It was steep but spaced in a way that it wasn't too exhausting.  You can see Mike picked up a walking stick along the way.  If we would have planned ahead, he would have taken the one he has at home.


Finally we returned to the car.  It had been a great day, but it was about noon and time to head home.  We went back to the visitors center to get some water.  The nice lady who worked there asked if we had seen the potholes on the Minnesota side of the park.  We had not because we thought we had to drive over there and we thought the bridge was closed for construction.  We were wrong.  The bridge was open but she told us how we could walk across the bridge from the Wisconsin side.  She said it would be a shame to go home without seeing the Minnesota side.  So off we went again walking across the pedestrian bridge which ran next to the highway.

Swirling rapids below the bridge

View from the Walking Bridge

We were greeted by this sign after we crossed the bridge.

At this location there was a paddleboat tour which was about to leave.  It would have been a good option if we hadn't already seen all the beautiful views from the trails.



I am so glad we took the extra time to visit this part of the park.  The potholes were huge and amazing.  It must be a special place because they were doing a photo shoot there.  From what I could gather, they are opening a new planetarium in Minneapolis and are using these shots from the park.

The green you see is the pothole.  It is covered with algae.



This pothole was so large there were stairs to the bottom.

Looking up from the inside.  The walls were so smooth.

It was finally time to go home.  We had a great time even though it was short.  We could have spent a week because there is so much to see.  The pictures don't even begin to do it justice.  We are also very proud that we were able to do this at our age.  For those who are familiar with Fitbits, my husband registered 60 flights of stairs.  It takes me two trips up and down our basement steps to register just one.  The best part is that we were able to get up in the morning without any ill effects.  It even motivated us to do more of this while we still can.