Maplewood State Park – Pretty as a Butterfly on a Thistle

 

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Pelican Rapids, MN

Seven miles southeast of Pelican Rapids, Minnesota, you will find a 10,000 acre state park. The park is about a third the size of Itasca State park, and receives only about one-fifth the annual number of visitors. The big draw at Itasca is the headwaters of the Mississippi River. Maplewood is located geologically between the western prairies and eastern forests. As a consequence, visitors find plants and animals native to both areas.

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Situated on the south shore of Lake Lida, the park is home to over 150 bird species and 50 species of mammals. The park was established in the 1960s on land that is uncharacteristic of the flat, level prairie farmland. The hills and woods make the area unsuitable for economical farming. Fortunately for us, we get to enjoy the beauty of the area year around.

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Our visit in late September coincided with the first signs of autumn. Fall colors were not yet at their peak, but signs of the impending winter would not be long before their arrival. The view from the highlands features rolling hills and forests of maple, oak and other hardwood species.

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There are 25 miles of hiking trails in the park along with horse trails, and winter skiing and snowmobile trails. There are even three miles of snowshoe trails to enjoy in the northern Minnesota winters. On this day, we would hike two trails, one in the highlands, and one in the depth of the forest. Woodland Trail was mercifully short, and we didn’t dally to enjoy the view. We’d forgotten mosquito repellent, and the little pests were beside themselves with joy at finding two tasty humans to feast upon. I submit for your visual evaluation, a gallery of images featuring a long, lingering look at the highlands, and a quick once-over of the lowlands at Maplewood State Park. Click on an image in the gallery to enlarge it and to scroll through the gallery.

Information about the park was gleaned from the Minnesota Dept. of Natural Resources website.

John Steiner

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4 thoughts on “Maplewood State Park – Pretty as a Butterfly on a Thistle

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