In northwestern Minnesota there lies a cozy place where families meet, travelers rest for the night, and people dine after biking, driving, or hiking through the forest. People from across the country and world come to visit the start of the mighty Mississippi River.
Itasca, Minnesota’s oldest state park.
Itasca, it turns out, is a lovely place to take some pictures.
My family visits Itasca annually and we always start our visit at Douglas Lodge for some breakfast. In true Minnesota fashion, the specialty is wild rice pancakes with maple syrup. Yum. A great start to a wonderful day.
Then, only a short hike away from Douglas Lodge, sits a log cabin constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in 1940. The CCC was a large part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal. The CCC was dedicated to the conservation and development of natural resources on public lands and worked extensively in Itasca. The cabin is nestled in the trees with a wonderful view of the nearby lake.
After this short hike it’s time for a stroll around the grounds. A perfect time to find some interesting photos. Like this historic cabin that guests can stay in.
Or just a glimpse of the beauty of the forest on a vibrant fall day.
Or a little inchworm that found its way onto a railing on the middle of a bridge.
After the stroll it’s time for the main event of the day, visiting the headwaters. The name “Itasca” is deeply connected to this part of the park. The explorer Henry Schoolcraft was led to the true source of the Mississippi River by an Anishinabe guide named Ozawindib in 1832. He then named the lake he was led to Itasca, after the Latin words veritas and caput meaning “truth” and “head”.
A short drive brings us to the start of the trail.
A statue greets us as we start our walk.
At the end of the trail there is a sign stating,
“HERE 1475 FT ABOVE THE OCEAN THE MIGHTY MISSISSIPPI BEGINS TO FLOW ON ITS WINDING WAY 2552 MILES TO THE GULF OF MEXICO”.
The day is beautiful, and the lake looks splendid.
Then it’s time to do what many others have done before. Cross the Mississippi River.
After taking in the beautiful day, it’s time to head back. 2 choices are available. You can walk back on the trail or wade down the river. I chose the river. My grandmother had mentioned that the water level looked higher than usual, but I didn’t listen. Even rolled up, my jeans got soaked.
At least I got this neat picture.
We stopped at the head of the trail to have some afternoon coffee at the café there and looked through the shop. Then it was time for a drive through the park down the winding road. After that, it was back to Douglas Lodge for some delicious dinner and lively conversation. Then we headed home pleased with another memorable day at Itasca State Park.