Forestville/Mystery Cave State Park in Preston, MN. Weeks ago I wrote a post about a camping adventure I took with friends where we saw Yoda in the forest and I promised to write more about the park, etc. So here it is!
A brief warning for all you first timers to my blog, I tend to write off the cuff and usually while I’m doing (or supposed to be doing something else) – today, for example, I’m in the middle of cooking down some Sour Cherry Spoon Sweet – the potential for typos (and burns from molten sugar and cherries) is high.
Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way – to the park! Or, rather, about the park!
We’d selected Site #29 from the map online and I have to say that we lucked out with a great campsite. We were not far from the bathrooms/showers had potable water in either direction and I have to say that when it comes to comparing state park campsites between Wisconsin and Minnesota – Minnesota wins. So far, every site we’ve stayed at within a MN State Park has been well-maintained and they have a screen of underbrush between you and the neighbors.
The weekend we stayed was damp, then rainy, and then – of course – on the last day it was absolutely beautiful with the sun shining, humidity down and a nice, gentle breeze. Murphy’s Law. But, because of all the rain that had been falling – there were mushrooms and various other fungus growing everywhere.
I also need to put in a warning. There is a raccoon who appeared to be making the rounds of every campsite. As we were with friends who had a screen tent to go over and around the picnic table – we congregated at their site and the raccoon visited on two nights to see if it could get in the trash. Our friends have some nifty zip-close collapsible trash and recycling bins which thwarted the raccoon who, when caught red-pawed attempting to get into the bins had to be scolded into leaving. After repeatedly stopping to turn back to see if we were actually serious about not wanting it around, it meandered off to the next site. A few moments later we could hear shouting of, “Get! Get outta here!”, followed by the crash of a bottle being chucked in the general direction of the raccoon. So, you’ve been warned.
Besides Mr. or Ms. Raccoon, there was an abundance of birds, there is trout fishing in the Rock River (Preston is apparently Minnesota’s Trout Fishing capital) and lots of great plants to check out. There is also the abandoned-turned-historical town of Forestville; you can purchase a ticket to tour the town with a guide in period clothing or just stop in the ticket building/store to check out the items on the shelves. And last but not least, for the horseback riders and hikers reading this – TONS of trails, most of them are horse-and-people accessible and our weekend there we hiked about 17 miles (loops and in-out trails). The trails, especially those that are open to horse and human traffic, are very well-maintained. The people-only trails are in good shape, but they tended to be dirt trails which on a rainy weekend made for muddy and/or slick spots.
Finally, there is Mystery Cave. This is a feature now run by the forest service and they have a variety of tours you can take – we opted for the 2 hour geology tour. Our Ranger Guide, I believe her name was Jean (but I’m probably wrong), was an enthusiastic young lady who gave a very interesting and enjoyable tour. Having been a tour guide once upon a time, I can tell you that your group stays more engaged if you enjoy what you’re talking about. But I digress…
We had a great camping experience, the hiking and bird-watching were fantastic, the mushroom-hunting superb (even though it was for photographs only) and finally – I have to say that if you truly want to “get away from it all” – the park is in a cell-phone dead zone. NO service. It was great!
PS – my Sour Cherry Spoon Sweet (extra sugar version for making the non-alcoholic cordial) is finished and in jars: 5 pints total!