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Hiking Club and Passport Club to explore Minnesota State Parks

Hiking Club and Passport Club to explore Minnesota State Parks

By Luisana Mendez

Minnesota is one of the states with the greatest natural wealth, including having more than 10,000 lakes throughout its surface. Something very obvious to which we are usually indifferent, is the fact that these lands are full of great stories to discover. A fun strategy to learn more about Minnesota and its stories is to tour the State Parks.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources manages the 75 state parks and recreation areas. Each of these parks offers endless opportunities for you to enjoy different outdoor activities while discovering the secrets that their lands keep.

Follow the route of adventure!

When I decided to transition to a more outdoor lifestyle, I started by taking on different hiking challenges that helped me stay motivated while learning and developing my skills. It is well known that, “the difficult thing is not to start doing something new, but to stay motivated until it becomes your lifestyle.”

My journey began by subscribing to #52HikeChallenge2021. Then I began to explore which parks I could visit to complete my challenge and along that way I discovered that Minnesota state parks offer the Hiking Club and Passport Club.

The Hiking Club encourages you to visit 68 State Parks and recreation areas throughout the State of Minnesota. These parks are full of beautiful landscapes, waterfalls, forests, and prairies. Depending on the season of the year in which you visit them, you will be able to observe a particular type of landscape, flora and wildlife. To participate in the Hiking Club you only have to acquire the book that lists the parks and describes the trails you must take. Each park has several Trails, but you will find a Trail specially marked as the Hiking Club Trail that you must follow.

When you go through the Hiking Club Trail you will find a password that is unique for each park. You will write that password at the end of the book where there is a box to keep the record together with the information about the park and the distance walked. Every time you complete 25 miles, you can present your book to a state park office to get your reward.

For its part, the Passport Club invites you to visit all 75 Minnesota State Parks and recreation areas. To participate you have to purchase the Passport Club kit, which comes with a journey so that you can keep track of your experience in each of the parks. When you decide to visit a state park, you just have to stop at the information office, which is usually at the entrance of each park, and get a stamp in your passport. If the office is closed, you can find the stamp at the station or information kiosk. Every time you complete 25 stamps you can get rewards.

Participating in the Minnesota Hiking Club and Passport Club has been a lot of fun for me and for those who have accompanied me on this adventure. In addition to visiting a different park, each time I have had the opportunity to learn about the history of the lands where the park is located. I have also been able to enjoy beautiful views, landscapes and a variety of climates. Learn about flora, wildlife, and discover beautiful natural treasures. So far I have visited 15 state parks and walked 41.7 miles in them.

Tips before visiting a State Park

Before visiting a state park, I recommend you review these tips to make your adventure unforgettable.

  • Plan your visit and be flexible: before you leave home, review the park information, plan to buy the parking pass, check visitor alerts and schedules, download the map of the park and its trails, check for special activities. Above all, check the state of the weather. Take your time to explore new destinations. Some parks tend to be busier than others and the weather can influence your walk depending on the time of year.
  • Be prepared with the essentials: check the distance to be covered, the level of difficulty, the conditions of the trail, and the time it will take to hike. Always stay hydrated, consider bringing a meal or snack, and wear comfortable and weather-appropriate clothing. If you use electronic devices to navigate the park trails, consider bringing external chargers.
  • Recreate responsibly and without a trace: don’t go off the trail, or leave your trash in the area. Do not feed or go near wildlife. Yield to horses and cyclists. Clean up after your pets. Also, if you decide to listen to music, do it with headphones. Let’s help conserve these natural places for the future.

If you decide to join the Minnesota Hiking Club and Passport Club, you can purchase the book and kit at any of the state park stores or by calling Gooseberry Falls State Park directly at 218-595-7101. When you visit a state park you have to pay for parking. To avoid this, I recommend acquiring a Vehicle Permit for the whole year. It costs as little as $ 35 and you can buy it online.

Programs to develop outdoor skills

We know that going outside for the first time can be a bit intimidating for some people, but I assure you that once you try it you will no longer be able to stop. For that reason I want to motivate you to go out and explore and discover what types of activities you like, and little by little, you will learn and grow in what makes you happy.

If you want to discover new places, meet new people and enjoy great adventures, I invite you to join Huellas Latinas Hiking Club. We go out in groups every week and frequently, we organize other activities such as paddle boarding, bird watching, cross country skiing, snow shoes, and others.

This is not all, I also want to recommend the “I Can” program of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. This program teaches beginners of all ages how to do outdoor activities such as: camping, fishing, canoeing, and much more.

Additionally, keep track of local parks in your cities and counties. Most of them also offer different programs and opportunities for recreation for children and families.

“The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quiet, alone with the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be and that God wishes to see people happy, amidst the simple beauty of nature. I firmly believe that nature brings solace in all troubles.” – Anne Frank.

Are you joining the adventure? – Don’t forget to leave me your comments and questions below. I will be happy to read you.


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