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Rock Tree Trail to Prairie Bush Clover SNA--Kilen Woods State Park overview

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When you think of Minnesota state parks, what do you think of? Usually us Minnesotan’s think of Itasca, Gooseberry Falls, Whitewater, Split Rock, Tettegouch, Grand Portage, Jay Cooke and other bigger parks. We rarely think Beaver Creek Valley, Frontenac, Forestville, or Kilen Woods State Park which is found in southwestern Minnesota. This time of year, many state parks per say have limited services which makes them a great opportunity to get out in the quiet natural world for some relaxation, refection, and rejuvenation!

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That is what I recently experienced while hiking at Kilen Woods State Park to get some fall color photos for an ongoing project I have started called Four Season State Parks. This project consists of capturing the state parks in the southeastern part of Minnesota in all four seasons. It is just that I started with one outside of that area, due to recent work trips that took me to western Minnesota. Stay tuned for more details on this project as they become available.

When I arrived at the park earlier this month, it was certainly quiet! Since I was not going to be there long, I drove to the picnic grounds to see what I could find for a quick hike. What I found was a longer hike along the Des Moines River, the Prairie Marsh Clover Scientific and Natural Area, and a remnant prairie. I took off towards the Des Moines River on the Rock Creek Trail where I ended up walking on the river bed due the overtly dry conditions. I found some really interesting things in the river bed, however. Check my FAN page on Facebook to see if you can identify what I saw and to get your name in the hat for the prize. From there, I went back on the trail along the river.

Along that hike, which includes some of the highest ridges along the river, I scouted out a new river for me to hopefully kayak or canoe at some future point. The Des Moines Lobe, a geological formation based on the last glacier period, is the whole Des Moines River Valley now and is preserved within the reaches of this park. From there, I meandered my way over to the next geological formation--the Prairie Marsh Clover SNA!

What is so special about this area? I am glad you asked. This area is a restoration area as there are not many naturally occurring Oak Savannas left in the Des Moines Lobe. So, the MN DNR has set aside this area for such a purpose. Interesting! So how is it going? Stay tuned.

After that, I went up through the restored prairie and back to the Baja! What I all learned was a lot more than I can contain in one article! Stay tuned. Oh, and follow my trail if you wish with!.




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