Look to Spring for Hiking Opportunities

by on April 23rd, 2013
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Each spring, I look forward to the snow melting and the frost leaving the ground. Then, I shed the winter outerwear and hit my favorite hiking trail.

The trail is not paved, nor is it maintained by anyone or anything besides the feet that have packed it over the years. It’s a rugged dirt path that winds along Lake Bemidji in beautiful Bemidji, Minn. (home of Paul Bunyan and Babe his Blue Ox), and I like it far better from the sidewalk and bike path that are up a little higher from the shore. It’s a quiet, little-used trail, which suits me just fine.

I have hiked this trail off and on for several years, sometimes along, sometimes with friends or family members. I say hiked instead of walked because it takes work. There are twists and turns and dips and roadblocks. There’s a spot where I have to jump over a small section that collapsed into the lake, and another area where one must hang onto trees to avoid sliding downward.

The exertion is exhilarating. I work up a sweat on this hiking trail, far more than I would do on any sidewalk twice as long. Some weeks I walk every day; other weeks, perhaps two or three days. I go on my lunch hour sometimes, or on the way to work. Sometimes I go in early evening as the sun is lowering.

It costs nothing to do this aside from a decent pair of sneakers with good treads, and there are wonderful rewards. The trees keep the sun out of my eyes and provide coolness on warm days. The view of the lake from right along the shoreline is phenomenal. Birds and squirrels pop into view frequently among the trees. I take my camera along and shoot photos of the trees, the lake, the wildlife. Ducks and geese and seagulls are plentiful. And it’s great exercise.

I don’t always take this trail. There are times I drive to Lake Bemidji State Park and take the Bog Walk. Sometimes, I go to the other side of the lake and walk along a wide trail there. And sometimes I look around until I find someplace new. I always enjoy discovering a new trail or path — a rugged trail at Woodenfrog Campground on Lake Kabetogama in northern Minnesota’s Voyageurs National Park is among my favorites — although Lake Bemidji’s old dirt trail warms my heart the most.

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