We have been back living in Excelsior, Minnesota for about a month now and have been busy getting settled in our newly purchased home as well as making up for lost time with family and friends. When an April day had temperatures in the 70s and the forecast was calling for sun we couldn’t resist spending the day outside! We drove about an hour from our home to Bobby’s childhood home, a beautiful dome that his parents built in the 70s nestled amongst the trees and a wetland. Bobby spent the morning helping his dad cut firewood while Jack and I had some quality time with Grandma.

In the afternoon we set off for an adventure at the nearby Cedar Creek Reserve. The site is an ecological reserve that offers numerous ecosystems to study. Represented within the reserve are natural habitats that cover all the ecosystems found in the state of Minnesota. The Fish Lake Trail is a spot open for recreational use all year round. The trailhead has interpretive signage, a login book where you can record what wildlife and other points of interest you saw while on your hike, a privy, and a small picnic shelter.

Trailhead

Trailhead

No dogs are allowed on this trail so leave your furry friends at home. The hike begins through an open grassland before you reach Fish Lake.

Sandy Grasslands

Sandy Grasslands

Here you have two choices. Going to the right will take you down a shorter path. To the left is a longer trail that takes you about 3/4 of the way around the lake. You can’t go completely around due to research being done that prevents visitors from continuing on. Signs at the end of the trail mark the spot where you must turn around and head back the way you came.

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We went left taking the longer path. The first section of trail is an interpretive trail with signage explaining the various ecosystems you are walking through. As you begin the hike Fish Lake remains on your right while a beautiful bur oak savanna is on your left. The trail is sandy as you walk along a little ridge between the two ecosystems.

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The trail was windy when we were there and we were doing what we could to keep Jack safe from the blazing sun as well as the blustery wind.

Nestled into Daddy's back with the hood up to keep his hat on and the sun off!

Nestled into Daddy’s back with the hood up to keep his hat on and the sun off!

The trail becomes less sandy as you continue around the lake. The waters of fish lake are a stunningly clear blue. Watch out for turtles slipping into the lake as you pass by!

Fish Lake

Fish Lake

Eventually the savanna turns into a cattail wetland on the lefthand side of the trail and you know you’re getting close to it when the chorus of frogs serenading you as you go along becomes more audible. The trail continues to wind around the lake and you find yourself immersed in a deciduous forest. A few muddy spots along the way but other than that the trail is wide and easy to navigate. Upon exiting the forest you come upon the first of four boardwalk sections of trail that lead you safely (and dryly) through the marshes. Some of the sections of trail immediately before/after the boardwalk are fairly muddy. Logs have been strategically placed to aid in you crossing these sections without getting too muddy but they are slippery and aren’t that solid so watch your step.

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The last section of boardwalk leads you back into the forest and the end of the trail. The trail thus far is about 2 miles, turn around and head the 2 miles back the way you came.

Overall this is an incredibly scenic hike that is easy for all members of the family to do! We had three generations out on the trail! This area is beautifully representative of the unique ecosystems that Minnesota has to offer!

We had three generations of Marko men out on the trail!

We had three generations of Marko men out on the trail!

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About the author


I am the youngest of six daughters and spent my childhood vacations camping in the beautiful State Parks of MN. In 2009 I married my best friend, Bobby Marko. We have embarked on numerous adventures along with our Golden Retriever, Latigo, our son, Jack (born 7/26/2014) and our daughter, Rowan (born 10/25/2016). When not adventuring in the great outdoors I spend my time as a stay at home mom and volunteer. I am a Branch Lead for the Twin Cities Hike it Baby branch. My favorite pastimes include dog training, eating chocolate, reading mysteries and crappy romance novels, and creating paper crafts, my passion lies in writing.

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