Afton State Park

Autumn is the perfect time to take walks through some of Minnesota’s State Parks as wildlife can easily be seen but the bug population has decreased.

Afton State Park is located in Afton, Minnesota, a small rural city south of St. Paul with a population of approximately 2800. The park borders the St. Croix River and one of the trails leads you down to the water.

Afton State Park Visitor Center

The visitor center was bustling with people when we arrived. We did not have to check in though as we have a pass that covers State Parks and another that covers the Preserves.

One of the first signs we encountered warned of wild parsnip growing in the area. I hadn’t realized that parsnip could be a problem. This is commonly planted parsnip. The sign says the parsnip “escaped” its domestic use and has become naturalized in open areas and fields.

When our sweaty skins come into contact with this plant, a chemical called psoralen is tranfered to the skin and can cause some people to become super-sensitive to sun exposure. Who would have thought parsnip could have this effect? Fortunately for us, we did not run into any.

The trail we decided to take went down to the St. Croix River.

Trail to St. Croix River

Picnic tables and beautiful sun-drenched trees lined the trail.

The view from above, of the St. Croix River and the valley surrounding it was very pretty.

St. Croix River
Minnesota Valley in Afton

The trail we took headed downwards. I’m always hoping the walk back is not too steep.

Trail to St. Croix River
Creek at Afton State Park
Bridge over creek

And here it is — the St. Croix River. Sailing, fishing, swimming … extra fun in the summer time. The swimming area is closed now.

Sailboat in the St. Croix River
Fishing in the St. Croix River

A fisherman takes advantage of the sunny day to catch fish. The St.Croix River has large and smallmouth bass and walleye fish. The bass must be 14 inches or more in order to be kept and any walleye less than 15 inches must be released.

I have not had the opportunity to fish this year. Maybe I’ll try ice fishing when the snow freezes our nearest lake.

Afton State Park Beach

Although swimming was not allowed this time of year, it was nice to walk on a sandy beach on a sunny day.

Looking over to the Wisconsin side of the river, a house is almost hidden in the hillside.

House on the hillside

The walk back to the parking lot took us past a hillside of ferns, a babbling brook and the ski lift area. Yes — there is skiing in Minnesota. Since I’m not a skier, I’ll probably never be able to tell if the “hills” are tall enough to be challenging or if they can be considered “bunny” slopes.

Babbling brook
Hillside of ferns
Afton Ski Area

Minnesota is lovely in autumn. The blue sky, the changing of the leaves on the trees, the smell in the cool air — all these help to give a sense of inner peace.

Leaves changing colors

The leaves change colors just like in the seasons of life.

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