Slot Canyon – A hidden place at Crosby Farm Regional Park

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Slot Canyon – A hidden place at Crosby Farm Regional Park

By Luisana Méndez

One of my favorite parks in Saint Paul, Minnesota is Crosby Farm Regional Park. I got to know this park in the summer of 2020. I was immediately amazed by the silence and majesty of the forest with immense oak trees that convey peace and wisdom. Since then, I have visited this park a great number of times, and on each visit I have had a completely different experience.

About the park

Crosby Farm Regional Park is named after a historic farm owned by Thomas and Emma Crosby; English immigrants who came to cultivate the area in 1858. The farm continued to be operated by several families until St. Paul Port Authority acquired the property in the 1960s and leased it to Saint Paul Parks.

The park is located in a river plain forest along the Mississippi River and Shepard Rd. Along with the adjoining Hidden Falls Regional Park, they make up the largest wilderness park in the Saint Paul park system. In addition, it is an important component that protects the biodiversity of the Mississippi River corridor through the Twin Cities. The main entrance is on Shephard Rd with Gannon Rd and another smaller parking lot is on Shephard Rd near I-35E.

Address: 2595 Crosby Farm Road, Saint Paul, MN 55116
Hours and Dates: from sunrise – 10 p.m.
Parking: free / dogs are allowed.
Activities: picnics, hikes, boating, fishing, biking, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing.
Map: See park map


The park offers 6.7 miles (10.8 km) of numerous trails for walking, running, and biking. It is also a destination for bird watching during the spring and fall migratory periods. The trails lead explorers through different types of landscapes. Forest, prairie, Mississippi River shoreline, pier between Upper and Crosby Lakes, and a winding path on the slope between Shepard Rd and the lakes. And if that wasn’t enough, this park hides a little treasure called “Slot Canyon” among the limestone and sandstone outcrops that line the north side of the park.

In search of Slot Canyon

I heard about Slot Canyon in a Hiking group. Based on the reactions and comments I could tell that few people seem to know it, including the locals. My curiosity grew and every time I went to the park I took a different route trying to find it. I admit it, uncovering Slot Canyon was not easy. However, on the least expected day, I found it.

Visit Crosby Farm Regional Park with a group of friends to do my #Hike5 of my 52 Hike Challenge 2021. It was a beautiful winter day in January. Although it was very cold, we were excited to be able to spend some time together sharing one of my adventures. We took the Upper and Crosby Lakes North Trail. It is a one-lane path, and depending on the time of year, various obstacles such as fallen trees can be encountered which, in turn, become a natural playground for children. This time, part of the road was completely icy and very slippery.

On this visit I discovered the Slot Canyon. As we walked I saw a small stream (depending on the time of year it could be dry) that came out in the middle of a groove between the rocks of the slope. I began to follow the path of water to explore where it came from. I walked up the completely frozen creek bed to the mouth of the Canyon. This is how I got to the place where a waterfall of completely frozen water approximately 767 feet high. Very attractive for those who practice ice climbing.

This place is hidden in the park, and does not appear on any map. If you find it, slot canyon is definitely worth a closer look. The proportion between the height of the cliff and the mouth of the canyon impresses the eye. Even the temperature can feel different. When you touch the surrounding walls, you can feel the porosity of the limestone rocks and the humidity of the place. Listening to the sound of the water that melts as it falls and hits the floor in the middle of the great silence of nowhere, transmits peace.

Finding the Slot Canyon was without a doubt the best of this adventure. However, it is worth noting that the connection that is achieved with nature is inexplicable and as I said before, in each visit to this park, I always discover its wonders and enjoy a completely different adventure.

Other Adventures

Zarah the Cave Womanin winter I also enjoyed the adventure of finding Zarah at Crosby Farm Regional Park. Zarah is the partner of Zug Zug, both the creations of Minneapolis artist Zach Schumack and his art collective Leonic, who set each sculpture in a different park in Minnesota.

In the forest: On a more recent visit, we needed 5 young people with their arms fully extended to hug one of the trees. Get your calculations on the diameter these mighty oaks could have.

Recommendations

1. Do not leave valuables in plain sight in your car in any of the parking lots. You don’t want to have a bad time.
2. If you go with dogs, please don’t set them free. They must remain on the leash.
3. Portable urinals are in both parking lots (restrooms are closed due to COVID)
4. Beware of cyclists. We can all live together in the park.
5. Some trails are paved, but not in optimal condition for normal wheelchairs or strollers.
6. Leave no trace, please take your garbage with you until you find a suitable place to deposit it.
7. During the weekends, the park is very crowded.


Let me know if you know this place and what your experience has been there. Also, if you don’t know Slot Canyon, would you like to go on an adventure with me to get to know it?


References

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About me

Hello! My name is Luisana and I am originally from Venezuela. I am a Civil Engineer and Urban Planner by profession.Entrepreneur by nature, innovative and enthusiastic. My passion is to serve and live the city through the senses.

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