Gneiss Outcrop SNA Hike to the Lake of the Little Tree Spirits

Photo by Mike Murray, Ghent, MN.

Photo by Mike Murray, Ghent, MN.

CURE Board Member and hike leader, Don Robertson, met 10 explorers at Memorial Park in Granite Falls,  along the meandering Minnesota River, last Wednesday. The explorers waited to embark on a hike of the Gneiss Outcrop Scientific Natural Area (SNA) just outside of Granite Falls. The Gneiss Outcrops, formed approximately 3.6 billion years ago, are among the oldest known rock on the earth’s surface. Before we began the hike, Don delivered background information on the spiritual and historical nature of the site.

Making a quick stop to view the Minnesota Falls dam removal site, we carpooled on to the SNA down a scenic river road. After parking, we began our adventure and made our own path as we hiked through the SNA, making this hike more of a challenge. Throughout the walk, group members shared their knowledge on the diverse plant species, both native and non-native, trees, many of which were being cut down, and the variety of birds found in the natural prairie.  Don showed us the deep holes, created by strong water flow, in the Gneiss Outcrop as we made our way to the Lake of the Little Tree Spirits. He also explained to us how this area was being restored by battling the many invasive species growing on the land. Read more about that battle here.

It’s always great to get to know new people while doing something fun.  But, it was the collective wisdom of the group that made this event special.   Hikers left with a new understanding and appreciation of the land. They created a new bond with a very special place.

The hike lasted 3 hours.  Hiker, Lucy Tokheim, commented, “This was a completely satisfying event.  Don’s perspective gave us the ability to see it in a fresh way.”