A Winter Walk Awaits in Mendota
A peaceful interlude is waiting on the Lilydale Regional Park trail in Mendota.
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During the warm months of the year (remember those?), the portion of the Lilydale Regional Park trail that runs along the bluffs from Lilydale Road to Highway 13 in Mendota is frequently teeming with cyclists, hikers and inline skaters, all enjoying the open, flat trail.
There is much less traffic in the winter, and the tranquil atmosphere you'll discover during a winter walk has an appeal all its own. The trail is dry and fine for hiking. On a recent visit to the trail, another outdoor enthusiast was even spotted wielding a pair of Nordic walking poles.
The January stillness of the mighty Mississippi River is a sight to behold. Most of the water is still visible, however there are areas immediately adjacent to the river banks crusted with a bright white layer of snow, settled on top of the slow moving water underneath. The trees and bushes lining the walking trail are mostly bare, the benches at the scenic overlook sites, usually the perfect spot for a cyclist to grab a water break, are now piled high with snow.
Wind? Yes, you can definitely feel it blowing off the bluffs, so dress appropriately. Since the trail is groomed, there's not enough snow on this particular route for cross-country skiing or snowshoeing, but wear sturdy boots in case you run into a bit of ice.
Part of the Big Rivers Regional Trail, the entire Lilydale Regional Park travels from Lilydale all the way to Harriet Island Regional Park, along wooded trails and past Pickerel Lake.
There is a parking lot located at the base of the Lilydale Road hill, not far from the Pool and Yacht Club. Posted park hours are 5 a.m. to 10 p.m., but the winds off the Mississippi at that time of night may be a little much even for the heartiest Minnesotan.