Afton State Park, Minnesota Hike

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St. Croix Floodplain

Silver maples in the St. Croix floodplain

The wind plays Afton State Park like an instrument. The music begins at the start of this 11.1-mile loop, when the summer breeze rustles through the leaves of oak, aspen, and hickory above the trail. When I step into the prairie, the whispers follow all around me, as big bluestem and wild rye sway in the gentle breeze, and insects buzz all around. With no other hikers around, the sounds seem magnified. I can’t help but wonder what secrets the trees and the grasses hold. Whatever they are, I hope they’re as good as mine—that I’m only 30 minutes from the hustle of downtown St. Paul, and yet still in the untamed wilds.

Thanks for watching!

Turn-by-turn from the Afton State Park Visitor Center

1) From the second parking lot, take the main trail .3 mile west to a T-junction.

2) The loop is 10.5 miles and camp is near the middle, so you can go either way; the writer went counterclockwise. To do the same, veer south and proceed .2 mile to another fork.

3) Turn west and follow the unnamed trail past hardwoods to the park road at mile 1.

4) Cross under the paved road and pick up the Deer Valley Loop, following it 1.8 miles through the forest to the park road again.

5) Take the connector trail .2 mile east.

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