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Campsite Photo Trip - 2013

Knit One, Pearl Two

It's finally starting to feel like summer as our photographer visits 7 Minnesota State Park campgrounds.

OK, I am not going to complain anymore about the weather. It is out of my hands. And I have had two sunny days so far in June, the 2nd and the 13th. So things are looking up! Except for the mosquito issue...

While the previous blog was uploading last Thursday I walked the campground at Sakatah Lake State Park. If I forgot to mention it before, I will be in Minnesota until the first week of August so all the campgrounds until further notice are in that state.


The park includes 3.5 miles of shoreline along the lake, 62 campsites, and one cabin.


My site was number 29 which I'm told is the most popular.


Site number 54 I named the "Marriage Killer".


"Straight back, honey".


"Just a smidgen left".



"Did you mean my left or yours?"

Running through the park is the 39 mile Sakatah Singing Hills State Trail, formerly a railroad grade.

"Sakatah" means Singing Hills, so the name is kinda redundant. But it is a nice bike ride, linking the towns of Faribault and Mankato.

For the next few nights I stayed at Myre-Big Island State Park.


It started off as just Big Island in 1947 but the state gradually increased the size and added another campground about one mile away. So you've got Big Island campground with 35 densely wooded sites and White Fox campground with 64 more open sites. I stayed at site 52 in the newer, drier section.


Great site with lots of privacy. That is the front view and this is the rear.


It looked like the sky was clearing a bit so I hopped on the bike and rode to Little Island (next to Big Island) to check out the lake.


This is where you will find the fishing pier and the boat ramp.

Myre-Big-Island-Fishing-Pier Myre-Big-Island-Boat-Ramp

Neat. I was getting hungry so I decided to run down a Canadian goose. These honking poop machines are everywhere. And they taste like chicken. That's because it was chicken (just kidding on the goose thing).




The Blazing Star State Trail runs from the campground to the town of Albert Lea. I had planned to ride it on Sunday morning before I left but, well, it was wet. I left and headed to Forestville-Mystery Cave State Park for two nights.

Road-to-Forestville Forestville-Mystery-Cave-Sign

I quickly set up my screen house for shelter in site 30, one of my favorites.


There are two separate campgrounds here. The main one has 73 sites in three loops. Loop A is just a short hike from B and C so I grabbed my umbrella and took the connecting trail along the South Branch of the Root River.

Forestville-Mystery-Cave-Trail Forestville-Mystery-Cave-River

Three of Minnesota's top trout streams converge within the park. The nearby town of Preston actually bills itself as the trout capital of the state. The rains had made the rivers dirty with runoff and I didn't see anyone drowning worms.

The other campground a couple of miles away is for horses and it's a big one. 55 sites and it gets the most horseback use of any state park in Minnesota.


The trailer was pretty spiffy as well. A combo slide out travel trailer with a back section for the horses.

Maybe I should have got a horse instead of a bike. It would have to be a small one to fit in my (Glenn's) trailer. One of those Shetland Ponies might fit. I could ride around campgrounds wearing a Mountie uniform and admonish misbehaving campers.

"Eh, don't forget to douse that campfire, eh. Don't be a hoser, eh!"

That would be sweet. Maybe rescue a damsel in distress tied to a train track.

A bit north of the campground is the reason for half of the parks name.

Forestville-Sign Forestville-Info

The bridge is closed to vehicles now but you can walk over it and see some of the restored buildings.

Forestville-Bridge Forestville-River Forestville-1 Forestville-3 Forestville-4

The Mystery Cave part of the name refers to a cave. There are several tours you can take here but it requires driving down a dirt road. It was too muddy for me so it will remain a mystery.

Tuesday I headed east to Whitewater State Park for a couple of nights.


I snagged a good spot, number 73.


There are 106 sites here. 1-47 have electricity but are farther away from the river. There was a short trail behind my site that led to it.

Whitewater-Trail Whitewater-River

The sky started to leak again so I finished up the last of the goose in my screen house.


There was a violent thunderstorm on Tuesday night and my fire pit was a wee wet the next morning.


After walking the campground and taking photos I hopped on my bike and rode to the beach area.

Bridge-Bike Whitewater-Beach-1

A few hardy souls were getting cloud tans.


Thursday was a busy and sunny day.


I stopped first at Carley State Park about 10 miles away.


This is a small place, with only 20 sites. But several campers had mentioned it to me while at Whitewater as a good alternative for people seeking a respite from the crowds. I liked it.

It has the same river.


A great picnic area.


And pretty sites like number 16.


My next stop was 55 miles away at Frontenac State Park.


Take a close look at the park sign above. That is one of the most famous views of the upper Mississippi River.

Frontenac-View-3 Frontenac-Info

This is what it looks like standing on top of that picnic table.


The river is actually called Lake Pepin at this spot. On the way here I passed through Lake City, a boaters paradise. A neat town as well.

The campground has 58 sites and was almost full. Site 5 was empty.


Nice. Taking advantage of the weather I continued 60 miles to Nerstrand-Big Woods State Park.


I parked at site 19 and quickly walked the campground.


There are 51 sites here, (numbering starts at 2), and judging by the reservation tags it will be full over Father's Day weekend with a lot of families enjoying the playground in the picnic area.


I upgraded to an electrical site when I arrived so I set up my office before anything else to process the pics of the seven campgrounds and send them safely off into the cloud.


Today, Friday, the plan is to write this blog and then head into town to wash clothes and bedding. I really want to find a place where I can wash my sleeping bags. It's been, umm, quite a while since they were cleaned. They are starting to get stiff.

Finding laundromats is one of the downsides of extended camping trips. But there are many benefits to this crazy life. Hiking, biking, fishing, boating, campfires, just staking out your own piece of beautiful land and calling it yours for however long you stay there. How else can you get lakeside, riverside, or mountainside property for $20 per night?

But my favorite campsite activity is sewing. Nothing beats replacing the zipper on a favorite pair of hiking shorts with velcro.


A group of campers sitting around the campfire wearing headlamps with needles in hand, it just does not get any better. Oh, and the stories I could tell. I remember one time when Glenn and I were camping at Collier-Seminole State Park in Florida about 18 months ago. I was darning some sock heels and, because the weather was a little chilly, Glenn was knitting a sporty scarf.

Well, a raccoon darted out of the brush and ran between our chairs. I laughed as Glenn panicked and almost stuck a knitting needle through his thigh. Yeah, the stories. That's what camping is all about.

Regards, Park Ranger


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