It’s officially fall and there’s no place I’d rather be than right here at home in Minnesota. It’s a beautiful time to be in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. Leaves are just starting to change colors in the Twin Cities. It’s already up to 50% color in some northern Minnesota counties. This September and October, I’m lacing up my hiking boots with Explore Minnesota and hitting up the trails because we are blessed with a distinct fall season and I want to enjoy every moment of it before winter comes. It’s time to soak in all of the fall feels and foliage. My hike starts on the Riverside Trail at William O’Brien State Park in Marine on St. Croix. It’s one of 10 fall hiking trails featured in Explore Minnesota’s Hike MN promotion this year.
Riverside Trail is a 1.6-mile loop surrounded by gorgeous pines, maples and other hardwoods. Much of the trail is surrounded by water including Lake Alice and the St. Croix River. The wildflowers and prairie grass are at peak color, while most of the trees are just starting to show shades of yellow, gold or orange. There are plenty of campsites, several camper cabins, and you’ll find a rest area along the trail every 900 feet. This trail is an easy one to do with kids, dogs, wheelchairs, with your significant other, girlfriends or even by yourself. I brought along my girlfriends Ali and Sam to hike this trail with me. It was such a fun girls’ day!
If you haven’t been to William O’Brien yet, it’s a no-brainer. Take a hike and enjoy the fall colors. It’s so close to the Twin Cities. Plus, Marine on St. Croix is the cutest little area worth exploring. Here are the stops we made after our hike at Riverside Trail.
THE BLUEBELL MERCANTILE & CO.
A sweet little boutique inside an old schoolhouse, The Bluebell Mercantile & Co. shop has home decor and specialty gifts. I’m always so surprised by the cool things I find here! I guarantee you’ll fall in love with everything in this store. I went home with a couple of enamel cups for the camper and fall scented wax melts. The shop is owned by a couple who loves the outdoors. You’ll see plenty of unique antlers on the walls of the store.
MARINE ON ST. CROIX HISTORIC DISTRICT
The historic district in Marine on St. Croix is as charming as it looks. In town square, you’ll find the general store, library, ice cream shop, cafe, chocolate shop, post office, bank, museum, church and town hall — all of the charm and character of a historic community. The beer cheese soup at the Marine General Store really hit the spot.
ACQUA OF FOREST LAKE
We had happy hour at Acqua of Forest Lake, a fantastic lakeside restaurant with an Italian-driven menu. It’s about a 15-minute drive from William O’Brien State Park. I loved my beet salad with goat cheese balls and apple fig goat cheese pizza (I <3 goat cheese). The executive chef also worked at other familiar restaurants including Chez Daniel, Fhima’s and Capiello in Uptown. There’s an Acqua location in White Bear Lake as well.
Also, be sure to enter the Hike MN Sweepstakes sponsored by Explore Minnesota. It runs from September 5 – October 21, 2018 with a chance to win Minnesota getaways and gift cards for Mall of America and Minnesota State Parks.