“But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds of the air, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish of the sea inform you. Which of all these does not know that the hand of the LORD has done this? In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind.” – Job 12:7-10
Yes, “the hand of the LORD has done this”! In fact, sometimes God just smacks me upside the head with the awesomeness of His creation. This tends to happen while I’m hiking. Most recently, it happened at Frontenac State Park while solo hiking through the forest as the morning sun broke through the trees. I had to just stop and thank God for this gift, and for allowing Lil Jan and me the privilege to be able to travel the country during this special time in our lives. As for Frontenac State Park, here’s our review…
Dates: August 25-26, 2015
Overall Score: 3.88 (out of 5)
Summary: Although this is a relatively small state park, it has a wide variety of beautiful terrains. There are river bluffs, forests, and hilly prairies to hike, and one of the most scenic picnic areas we’ve come across. The park has a secluded and peaceful feel to it, which is a good thing.
Recreation/Amenities: 4.0 – 20+ miles of great and varied hiking trails, ranging from easy/scenic (along the bluff) to difficult (going down the 430+ foot bluff with switchbacks from In Yan Teopa rock to the river). Snowshoeing and cross-country skiing are available in the winter.
Hookups & Connectivity: 3.5 – electric only, with dump station. Water source is located in the camping area, but not at individual campsites. Only 19 electric sites, which may not meet demand on holiday weekends and other high volume times.
Local Vicinity Things to Do: 3.5 – Canoe and kayak rentals are available at nearby Lake Pepin. Of course, the Great River Road is nearby. From the park, I’d recommend heading north to Red Wing (historic, w/ some shopping), crossing over into Wisconsin and then following the Great River Road north to the historic towns of Prescott and Hastings.
Cleanliness: 4.2 – well-maintained campsite, facilities, and trails.
Intangibles: 4.2 –
Pros – Be sure to check out the great view of the Mississippi River (at this section, it’s known as Lake Pepin) from the bluffs and especially at the picnic area. Good chance of seeing a bald eagle during the winter months. Friendly staff. $36/night, which includes a $5 park entrance fee and an $8 charge for an electric site.
Cons – I would be scared to hike with children (or someone as graceful as Lil Jan) along parts of the bluff, unless they were on a leash. The drop off is steep and unforgiving. Campsites were wooded/scenic, but also pretty close together. It would be difficult to park a big RV given the campground layout—one of the reasons we went with a somewhat smaller (32’) Class-A. There’s no place to cool off (pool, creek, etc.), aside from the Mississippi River…and that may not be advisable. The hiking trail map and signage could have been a little better.
We enjoyed our time at Frontenac State Park. Time to say farewell to Minnesota and head back to the Great River Road on the Wisconsin side.
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