Trail Report Week 8: Meat me on the Hormel Trail

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The Hormel Nature Trails of Austin, Minnesota is built on land donated to the city by the Hormel Family who made their fortune on processed meats. The trails cover over 10 miles of trails that includes a surprising amount of topographies. 

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Sorry carnivores the Hormel Trail isn’t made of SPAM. But with miles of trails, it will definitely work up your appetite.

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The trails are all designed in overlapping loops. The loops vary in length with no circuit being over a mile and a half. This allows the hiker to determine how long they want to stay on the trail. I will admit though that it got a bit confusing trying to remember which loop I was on. Fortunately, the park has maps located throughout the park.

The landscape varies quite a bit. There were open prairie fields with wildflowers, Ponds, creeks, as well as cedar, pine, and oak forests.

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Since the trails were all looped many surrounded vast prairie fields arrayed with tallgrass (often over my head in height) and specks of wildflowers.

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The wildflowers were in bloom, and the bees knew it. I had a bee fly into my ear.  I somehow remained calm and just stood there for a second while it found the exit and went on its way without incident.

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This trail led to a restored log cabin. This one is similar to those built by the Scandinavians who settled the area.

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Several of the Ponds and creeks with filling up with algae. This didn’t seem to bother the bullfrogs whose baritone songs broke the quiet of the trail.
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A beaver dam was just commencing construction.

Woodpeckers, squirrels, and owls  had created an apartment block

 

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The aptly named Pine loop encircles a thick Pine Forest. The smell reminded me of a clean kitchen. (Pinesol)

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Many of the trails had covered bridges spanning creeks full of fish frogs and herons on patrol.

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This is the tower loop. (the names were not that creative) . Despite the heat and the fact that I had been hiking for a few hours. I knew I could never be too tired to climb it.

The View did not disappoint:

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To give you a perspective of just how vast this park is if you look at the ridge of trees on the horizon, there is a field beyond that almost as big as this one.

 

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I cast a big shadow.

 

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This giant stone was left after the glaciers melted and have been sitting there for 65 million years.

This is a park is enormous and hugely popular with the locals. I would definitely come here often myself if I lived nearby. 

PROS: A real mix of landscapes, So much to see you can’t possibly see it all in one visit, The tallgrass prairie fields and wildflowers are breathtaking. 

Cons: The loops are all overlapping so it can get a little confusing. I wouldn’t want to get disoriented on one of these loops during the cold Minnesotan winters and try to find my way back to the parking lot. 

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