Minnesota Hiking: Lake Maria State Park & Quarry Park and Nature Preserve

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Time to check another Minnesota State Park off the list…and yes, I have a physical list.

I’m proof that Instagram marketing works. I bought this print from GitchiAdventureGoods.com. They have tons of responsibly made and totally adorable state and national park items. They also donate 10% of the proceeds from every purchase to support national parks, state parks, and other outdoor spaces. This is #notsponsored of course but I just love what they stand for.

My boyfriend Glenn and I have lived in Minnesota for a little over a year and so far we’ve checked off 10 state parks! This past weekend was one of the rainiest we’ve had all spring but I wasn’t going to let a little rain keep me from getting out of my 1-bedroom apartment and to my 10th Minnesota State Park.

Lake Maria State Park

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Lake Maria State Park is located about 45 miles northwest of Minneapolis. The DNR’s website tells us that the park is “one of the few remaining stands of the “Big Woods,” a maple, oak and basswood forest that once covered part of southern Minnesota. The park is perfect for hikers, backpackers, horseback riders, and cross-country skiers who enjoy the challenge of the rolling terrain.”

In addition to the trails, there are a number of lakes for fishing and canoeing. We also came across dispersed campsites and cabins throughout the park but due to COVID-19 state park campgrounds (even dispersed) are closed.

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Lake Maria State Park is one of my favorites we’ve visited so far. We hiked for about an hour and saw quite a bit of wildlife including whitetail deer. The thick tree cover provided a natural umbrella from the rain and it was so quiet and peaceful.

Quarry Park and Nature Preserve

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After a quick Google search for points-of-interest in the area, we continued north to St. Cloud, Minnesota to an old quarry that is now a county park. Quarries aren’t a big thing where I’m from in Michigan and I didn’t really know what to expect. Here’s what I learned:

From my understanding, Central Minnesota is a hot bed for granite. Granite quarries opened up in the mid-1800s and this specific quarry contains a type of stone known as St Cloud Red Granite. The land was privately owned by various companies but operations ceased in the 1950s and in 1992 Stearns County purchased the land to add to its park system.

This park has 20 quarries of various sizes and depths. Two of the main quarries are designated for swimming with docks and areas to jump off the tall rocks. It was really cool! I imagine on hot summer days it’s packed with people diving into the deep, clear waters.

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In addition to swimming, there are trails for hiking, biking and skiing, trout fishing, rock-climbing, scuba-diving and even the old derrick (a.k.a. big ol’ crane) which was used to hoist the large granite blocks.

Giant piles of rocks can be seen throughout the park. I read that 80% of the granite these companies dug up was left behind because it didn’t fit the size and specs of whatever granite order they were trying to fulfill. I’ll let the photos speak for themselves:

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Liberty Derrick

If you ever have a chance to check-out a quarry, I highly recommend it. It’s fascinating to witness the things humans were able to accomplish 100 years ago and I’m glad Stearns Country is letting nature take over the land once again.

I hope you all are staying safe and healthy during this time. As our society begins to reopen, I encourage you to stay diligent with social distancing practices. An excellent way to do that is by getting out into nature and exploring our beautiful parks. ;)

Thanks for stopping by <3

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Casey

One thought on “Minnesota Hiking: Lake Maria State Park & Quarry Park and Nature Preserve

  1. They certainly have some of the most beautiful prints, I loved Mount Rainier National Park map, might even order one. I have a long list of parks, gardens and forests I would love to visit in Ireland, hopefully we can start traveling soon, would love to check few of them off the list. Thanks for sharing and happy trails 😊 Aiva

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