Tag Archives: state park

Happy Campers

I wasn’t the only one ready to play in the woods last weekend:

It seems like the more eager you are to get out of town, the more time you spend waiting. Sometimes it feels like you have to wait forever:

It was worth it:

We felt like we could lose ourselves in Paul Bunyon State Forest:

Or on the trails in Itasca State Park:

We even made a few friends along the way:

Having so much fun was exhausting:

Looking Back: Crow Wing State Park

We haven’t had an outdoor adventure in far too long, sadly work schedules and other commitments have been taking their toll on our scamping adventures. Getaway plans are on the horizon, but in the meantime I have been looking back at outings we had in the spring until we once again find ourselves in the woods slapping mosquitoes.

This week I was looking back to our stay at Crow Wing State Park in the beginning of May. It was a beautiful weekend and our first trip out in our shiny, new Scamp. I hope you enjoy my walk down memory lane.


Within the borders of Crow Wing State Park are the remnants of Old Crow Wing, one of the most populous towns in Minnesota during the 1850s and 60s.

The town was at the confluence of the Crow Wing and Mississippi Rivers which provided easy travel routes and good hunting.
crow wing river

In early years, the region was inhabited by Dakota and there were conflicts with the Ojibwe who eventually gained control over the area.

By the late 18th century, European fur traders were in the area and a trading post was opened in 1823. The town slowly grew around it.

The economy boomed and three churches were established, the remains of a small cemetery are visible near the site of the Catholic church.
historic cemetery

At its peak, there were between 600-700 residents in the town, approximately half were Ojibwe.
yellow rumped warbler

Clement Beaulieu ran the American Fur Company’s trading post. His home is the oldest standing structure in Minnesota north of St. Anthony Falls and was considered a mansion when it was built in 1849.
beaulieu mansion

But the success of the town came to a quick end.

In 1868, the Ojibwe were relocated to the White Earth Indian Reservation. And in 1871, railroad magnate James J. Hill decided to route his Northern Pacific Railroad over the Mississippi in Brainerd, 10 miles north of Old Crowing.

Most of the town’s residents had moved on by 1880.
sun through trees

Today, Crow Wing State Park is on the National Register of Historic Places.

mississippi river
“Before him flowed the majestic Mississippi River, opening a delightful vista of sparkling waters, and romantic wooded shores far below, while above on a graceful bend of the river, picturesque little cottages peered out from shady nooks. A birch canoe was drawn up on the shore where he stood and another was swiftly gliding past the bank of the pretty island opposite.” – A description of the town of Crow Wing, published in Harper’s Magazine in 1858


Rhapsody in Green

Sakatah Lake State Park is located on rolling hills 14 miles west of Faribault, Minnesota; its uneven terrain the result of glacial activity 14,000 years ago. Originally inhabited by the Wahpekute (Wapacoota) band of Dakota Sioux, they called the area “singing hills” and some of their burial mounds still exist in the park today.
Sakatah State Park

The park land has a mixture of Big Woods habitat, oak barrens, wetlands and agricultural fields near the Cannon River and Lake Sakatah. These waterways were important transit routes and attracted white settlers to the area, one of the first being Alexander Faribault who established a trading post in 1862. Eventually a railroad line was built, running from Faribault to Mankato. Amazingly, this land escaped logging and through the state’s preservation efforts, it is returning to its hardwood forest roots.
trees and stream

With land travel difficult because of the Big Woods, the water routes were also important for the resident Dakota Sioux. In addition to numerous white trading posts, Indian villages existed along the waterways as well.
path and trees

Sakatah Lake State Park opened to the public in 1967. The rail line was eventually sold to the state and converted into a 41 mile paved path, Sakatah Singing Hills State Trail, three miles of which pass through the park boundaries.