Rainy, cold spring dampens state park and trail use

  • Article by: DOUG SMITH , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 1, 2013 - 11:54 PM

Renovation projects await summertime users, too.

hide

Interstate State Park near Taylors Falls, shown here on a pleasant summer day in 2006, has seen fewer visitors this spring.

Photo: File photo by JERRY HOLT • jgholt@startribune.com,

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

The cold, wet spring not only has doused fishing license sales — down 25 percent from last year — but it also has washed out camping, hiking and biking excursions to Minnesota’s state parks and trails.

“We’re down,” said Courtland Nelson, director of parks and trails for the Department of Natural Resources. Sales of annual $25 state park passes are off 15 percent from last year, and $5 daily passes are down 34 percent.

While fewer campers and day-users overall are exploring the state’s 76 parks and recreation areas, use of state trails probably has been dampened even more by the poor weather.

“Trail use is way off,” Nelson said. “I spent Memorial Day weekend on the Root River Trail; there was some use, but nowhere near normal.”

Ron Erickson, manager at Interstate State Park at Taylors Falls — the fourth most-visited state park — said he has noticed fewer visitors this spring.

“When the weather is good, people come. When it’s bad, they think a lot longer about it, and sometimes they don’t come,” he said.

But others don’t let poor weather dissuade them.

“Our hard-shell campers, those in recreational vehicles that have reservations, they come anyway,” Erickson said. “Tenters are less likely to come if it’s going to rain or be cold.” Still, Erickson expected most of the park’s 37 campsites to fill this weekend.

At Gooseberry Falls State Park on the North Shore — the No. 2 most-visited park — visitor numbers are down only slightly, said Audrey Butts, park manager. But there have been benefits to the spring rains: “The falls have been just beautiful, way better than typical for this time of year,” she said.

Not all state parks have seen a decline in visitors. At popular Itasca State Park, Memorial Day weekend was busy, as usual, said Jeff Karels, assistant park director.

“We had a handful of open campsites,” he said. “The walleyes have been hitting, and we haven’t had the rain you’ve had in the south.”

Peak state park usage is June, July and August, so there’s plenty of time for campers to flock to campgrounds, hiking trails or bike paths. “I think it will be an awesome summer,” Karels said.

Officials know what it will take to lure Minnesotans back outdoors: sunshine.

“When we get the first weekend when it’s 75 or 80 degrees and sunny, there will be an explosion of people going out to the parks,” said Erickson. “There’s pent-up demand.”

But just as Minnesota motorists must battle construction season, park and trail users could encounter renovation and repair projects. Among them:

Tettegouche State Park: A $7 million visitor center is being built at the state’s seventh-most visited state park, meaning visitors will find a temporary entrance and park office at the North Shore park. The building is a joint project with the state Transportation Department, and will function as a park visitor center and state rest area. When the old visitor center was built in 1986, the park had about 28,000 visits yearly. Now it gets around 335,000. The building will include a great room with fireplace overlooking Lake Superior, a gift shop, amphitheater, lakeside patio, picnic shelter and restrooms open 24 hours daily. A solar energy system will generate about 36 percent of the building’s energy needs.

 

Jay Cooke State Park: The iconic swinging bridge, wrecked after historic floods last June tore through the popular park 20 miles southwest of Duluth, hasn’t been rebuilt yet, though visitors should be able to cross it late this summer. But the park reopened last fall and the Hwy. 210 bridge between Carlton and Thomson has reopened, allowing access to the park. The road currently ends at the park office. And access to the trail system on the south side of the park is limited, due to the swinging bridge’s closure. Most other trails are open.

With 320,000 annual visitors exploring 2,350 rocky, wooded acres, Jay Cooke ranked among the top 10 most-visited state parks until a deluge last summer dumped more than 7 inches of rain and pumped floodwater 6 feet over the 88-year-old swinging bridge, wrenching its cables and decking.

Gooseberry Falls State Park: A main trail near the visitor center is being rebuilt, and the historic dormant log and stone visitor center built by the Civilian Conservation Corps near Hwy. 61 is being restored to preserve it, though its future use is uncertain.

Willard Munger Trail: A segment of the trail from the parking area near Willard Munger Inn to 93rd Avenue in West Duluth is under construction this spring and summer as crews repair damage from last June’s floodwaters.

Bear Head Lake State Park: Using money won in a national best-park contest, a new trail center at this northern park near Ely is expected to be open this summer.

Root River Trail: The 4½-mile segment of the Root River State Trail between Lanesboro and Whalan will be closed for repairs, beginning June 17, and is expected to be completed by July 12.

Gitchi-Gami State Trail: The planned 86-mile trail is being built in phases. A section under construction near Lutsen should be completed in July.

 

Doug Smith • dsmith@startribune.com Twitter: @dougsmithstrib

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

Click here to send us your hunting or fishing photos – and to see what others are showing off from around the region.

ADVERTISEMENT

Philadelphia 3:30 PM
Washington
San Diego 7:25 PM
San Francisco
Minnesota 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Baltimore 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Houston
Detroit 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Chicago
Cleveland 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Atlanta 12/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Green Bay 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Kansas City 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
New England 12/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 12/21/14 3:05 PM
St. Louis
Buffalo 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Oakland
Indianapolis 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Dallas
Seattle 12/21/14 7:30 PM
Arizona
Denver 12/22/14 7:30 PM
Cincinnati
Phoenix 99 4th Qtr 0:07
New York 90
Portland 6:00 PM
New Orleans
Utah 6:00 PM
Charlotte
Atlanta 7:00 PM
Houston
San Antonio 7:30 PM
Dallas
Indiana 8:00 PM
Denver
Milwaukee 9:30 PM
LA Clippers
Arizona 3:00 PM
Los Angeles
Colorado 6:00 PM
Buffalo
Philadelphia 6:00 PM
Toronto
Ottawa 6:00 PM
Montreal
Washington 6:00 PM
New Jersey
Tampa Bay 6:00 PM
NY Islanders
Florida 6:00 PM
Pittsburgh
NY Rangers 6:00 PM
Carolina
Chicago 6:00 PM
Columbus
Nashville 7:00 PM
Minnesota
Calgary 9:00 PM
Vancouver
St. Louis 9:30 PM
San Jose
VA Commonwealth 68 FINAL
Cincinnati 47
Charlotte 78 FINAL
Georgetown 81
SMU 62 FINAL
Michigan 51
Louisville 76 FINAL
Western Ky 67
Mount St Marys 45 FINAL
American Univ 46
Abilene Christian 33 FINAL
Boise State 77
UMass Lowell 63 FINAL
Duquesne 79
South Alabama 65 FINAL
IUPUI 71
Ohio State 74 FINAL
North Carolina 82
Massachusetts 65 FINAL
Providence 85
Syracuse 67 2nd Half 0:20
Villanova 64
Citadel 61 FINAL
Virginia Tech 64
Belmont 71 2nd Half 0:41
Fairfield 61
St Bonaventure 38 2nd Half 12:00
Binghamton 36
Montreat 35 2nd Half 13:31
Campbell 59
Delaware 44 2nd Half 15:33
Fair-Dickinson 46
South Florida 32 2nd Half 16:56
Florida State 40
Vanderbilt 39 2nd Half 12:58
Georgia Tech 39
SC State 45 2nd Half 12:42
Houston 43
Missouri 32 2nd Half 15:40
Illinois 34
Truett-McConnell 30 2nd Half 15:15
Jacksonville 50
Toledo 71 2nd Half 8:48
McNeese State 57
Elon 42 2nd Half 17:24
UNC Greensboro 29
Drexel 35 2nd Half 13:59
Penn State 42
St Francis-PA 45 2nd Half 15:40
Rutgers 45
Albany 44 2nd Half 9:43
Yale 49
PSU-Beaver 41 2nd Half 15:39
Longwood 67
Eastern Ill 32 2nd Half 14:24
Indiana State 27
Indiana 38 1st Half 1:05
Butler 35
Marshall 17 1st Half 12:25
Arkansas State 8
Lafayette 7 1st Half 13:15
Kansas 13
Oral Roberts 5 1st Half 14:55
Memphis 10
Western Mich 13 1st Half 12:27
Northwestern 6
Delaware State 3 1st Half 14:16
Oregon 16
Fla Atlantic 6 1st Half 11:54
St Francis-NY 10
Arkansas Tech 9 1st Half 12:18
Stephen F Austin 20
Howard Payne 4 1st Half 13:16
Texas-Arlington 13
UMBC 17 1st Half 11:57
Kennesaw St 9
St Josephs (IN) 2 1st Half 17:17
Chicago State 0
Eastern Mich 5 1st Half 13:09
Missouri State 4
UCLA 2:30 PM
Kentucky
UC Davis 3:00 PM
Air Force
Houston Baptist 3:00 PM
UC Riverside
Davidson 3:00 PM
Coll of Charleston
USC Upstate 3:00 PM
Miss State
NC Central 3:00 PM
Miss Valley St
Illinois State 3:00 PM
Murray State
Louisiana 3:00 PM
Northwestern St
Oakland 3:00 PM
Pittsburgh
Detroit 3:00 PM
Rhode Island
Presbyterian 3:00 PM
UT Martin
Monmouth 3:00 PM
Wagner
Southern U 3:00 PM
Wyoming
Iowa State 4:00 PM
Drake
Wake Forest 4:00 PM
Florida
High Point 4:00 PM
James Madison
Texas Southern 4:00 PM
Michigan State
New Hampshire 4:00 PM
Sacred Heart
Northeastern 4:00 PM
Santa Clara
Huston-Tillotson 4:00 PM
Texas State
Purdue 4:15 PM
Notre Dame
Prairie View 4:30 PM
Sam Houston St
Xavier 5:00 PM
Auburn
Bluffton 6:00 PM
Akron
NJIT 6:00 PM
Central Conn St
Hofstra 6:00 PM
Columbia
Boston Univ 6:00 PM
Dayton
Iona 6:00 PM
George Mason
Valparaiso 6:00 PM
IUPU-Ft Wayne
Texas A&M 6:00 PM
Kansas State
Morgan State 6:00 PM
Manhattan
Saint Josephs 6:00 PM
Marist
East Carolina 6:00 PM
UNC-Wilmington
Richmond 6:00 PM
Pepperdine
La Salle 6:00 PM
Towson
Incarnate Word 6:05 PM
UMKC
CS-Bakersfield 6:30 PM
Idaho State
Iowa 6:30 PM
Northern Iowa
Milwaukee 6:30 PM
SIU Edwardsville
Long Beach State 7:00 PM
Texas
TX-San Antonio 7:00 PM
TCU
SE Missouri St 7:30 PM
Arkansas
Lehigh 8:00 PM
Arizona State
New Mexico 8:00 PM
New Mexico St
Oklahoma 8:00 PM
Washington
Utah Valley U 8:00 PM
Weber State
Jacksonville St 8:00 PM
Northern Colorado
St Edwards 8:00 PM
Grand Canyon
NC State 8:30 PM
West Virginia
TX A&M-CC 9:00 PM
CS-Northridge
Cal Poly 9:00 PM
Gonzaga
Fresno State 9:00 PM
Pacific
Montana State 9:00 PM
Portland
Ball State 9:00 PM
San Diego St
South Dakota St 9:05 PM
Utah State
Stanford 10:00 PM
BYU
Utah 10:30 PM
UNLV
Nevada 3 FINAL
Louisiana 16
Utah State 7 2nd Qtr 9:43
Texas-El Paso 3
(23) Utah 2:30 PM
Colorado State
Western Mich 4:45 PM
Air Force
South Alabama 8:15 PM
Bowling Green
BYU 12/22/14 1:00 PM
Memphis
Marshall 12/23/14 5:00 PM
Northern Ill
Navy 12/23/14 8:30 PM
San Diego St
Central Mich 12/24/14 11:00 AM
Western Ky
Fresno State 12/24/14 7:00 PM
Rice
Illinois 12/26/14 12:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
Rutgers 12/26/14 3:30 PM
North Carolina
NC State 12/26/14 7:00 PM
UCF
Cincinnati 12/27/14 12:00 PM
Virginia Tech
Duke 12/27/14 1:10 PM
(15) Arizona State
Miami-Florida 12/27/14 3:00 PM
So Carolina
Boston College 12/27/14 3:30 PM
Penn State
(25) Nebraska 12/27/14 7:00 PM
(24) USC
Livingstone 77 FINAL
UNC Greensboro 81
Loyola-Chicago 58 FINAL
Dartmouth 70
Georgia Tech 65 FINAL
St Francis-NY 59
Auburn 49 FINAL
St Johns 56
East Tenn St 56 FINAL
Jacksonville St 57
Western Mich 71 FINAL
Detroit 57
Cal-Irvine 42 FINAL
Wright State 80
Gardner-Webb 47 FINAL
Kennesaw St 50
(7) Stanford 40 FINAL
(11) Tennessee 59
Alabama A&M 47 FINAL
Ole Miss 71
Central Michigan 45 FINAL
(1) South Carolina 80
Nebraska Omaha 50 FINAL
Creighton 67
FIU 69 FINAL
Western Carolina 83
Houston 65 FINAL
Nicholls 47
St Thomas Aquinas 45 FINAL
Army 70
St Bonaventure 72 FINAL
Niagara 60
Texas State 57 FINAL
Stetson 75
George Mason 65 FINAL
ULM 53
Grambling 31 2nd Half 11:59
Kansas State 46
Missouri 38 2nd Half 17:40
Wake Forest 36
Robert Morris 40 2nd Half 10:46
Cornell 48
Air Force 27 2nd Half 12:56
Abilene Christian 50
Hampton 29 2nd Half 15:47
James Madison 48
American Univ 47 2nd Half 13:59
MD-Eastern Shore 37
Texas Southern 38 2nd Half 16:53
TX A&M-CC 30
Tenn Tech 32 2nd Half 12:58
NC A&T 38
Presbyterian 38 2nd Half 8:39
NC Central 27
Penn 36 2nd Half 12:07
Drexel 41
Lipscomb 26 2nd Half 8:27
Xavier 50
Vermont 26 2nd Half 13:53
Green Bay 39
Charleston Southern 29 1st Half 1:02
UNC-Wilmington 40
Ohio Christian 46 2nd Half 8:07
Akron 81
Jacksonville 39 2nd Half 11:57
Murray State 54
(17) Rutgers 38 2nd Half 13:04
Iona 34
Indiana 65 2nd Half 10:59
Oakland 43
Indiana State 37 2nd Half
SMU 17
Denver 24 2nd Half
Purdue 28
Campbell 2:00 PM
Bethune-Cookman
Valparaiso 2:00 PM
SIU-Edwardsville
Toledo 2:00 PM
Southern Ill
TX-San Antonio 0 1st Half 20:00
Texas Tech 0
UCF 9 1st Half 15:12
Middle Tennessee 14
Florida A&M 12 1st Half 11:24
SE Louisiana 9
Northwestern St 12 1st Half 14:00
Jackson State 7
Lehigh 8 1st Half 13:12
Arizona State 20
Liberty 2:30 PM
Minnesota
Wofford 2:30 PM
North Florida
Montana State 3:00 PM
Washington St
Marshall 3:00 PM
(22) West Virginia
Morgan State 3:00 PM
Chattanooga
Northeastern 3:00 PM
Harvard
Furman 3:00 PM
(15) Georgia
(18) Michigan State 3:00 PM
(9) Baylor
Ohio U 3:00 PM
Massachusetts
Prairie View 3:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
High Point 3:00 PM
(12) Nebraska
Winthrop 3:05 PM
Wichita State
William Jewell 3:30 PM
UMKC
Louisiana Tech 4:00 PM
Utah
Southern Utah 4:00 PM
Gonzaga
Hawaii 4:00 PM
Loyola Marymount
San Jose St 4:00 PM
San Francisco
CS-Northridge 4:00 PM
San Diego State
Norfolk State 4:00 PM
East Carolina
Saint Peters 4:00 PM
Loyola-Maryland
Arizona 4:30 PM
Stephen F Austin
Northwestern 4:30 PM
Eastern Illinois
Oral Roberts 5:00 PM
Wisconsin
Florida Atlantic 5:00 PM
New Mexico St
La Salle 5:00 PM
Georgia State
(16) Oregon State 5:30 PM
Nevada
Sacred Heart 6:00 PM
Villanova
Delaware 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Troy 6:00 PM
Tennessee St
Saint Louis 6:30 PM
Utah Valley U
Washington 7:00 PM
UC-Riverside
Pacific 7:00 PM
Long Beach St
Old Dominion 7:00 PM
Miami-Ohio
Austin Peay 9:00 PM
Montana
Lewis-Clark State 9:00 PM
Idaho
(21) Miss State 9:30 PM
Illinois-Chicago
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Should the lake where the albino muskie was caught remain a mystery?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close