Great Fall Hiking Can Be Found at Quarry Park and Nature Preserve in Waite Park

Central Minnesota was gifted the perfect fall day by Mother Nature, and lucky for us it was also on a Saturday!

Pure blue skies, mid 60’s, and a gentle breeze had me longing to get outside and soak it in. There aren’t many days left like this before the stereotypical long Minnesota winter shows up. I came home from work and roped my fiance Cory and dog Norman into going for a hike around Quarry Park and Nature Preserve in Waite Park.

I knew the area was big for swimming in the summer, and I knew there were some walking trails, but I was truly stunned with how large and impressive this plot of land is. A quick check online found that there are trails and quarries nestled among 683 acres of land. This wasn’t some little city park and bike trail.

When you arrive there is a check-in drop box where you pay $5 per car to park. There’s no card reader, so you will want to make sure you have exact change. There are signs posted at the trail heads near the parking lot, and paper maps of the trails available as well.

We didn’t have a set plan of the trails we wanted to walk, we just went in and took the turns that looked scenic. And with the fall colors on full display, that was dang near every turn.

The sun reflecting on glass smooth water in the quarries looked like it was out of a Terry Redlin painting. The trails were busy with it being so nice outside, and everyone we passed had smiles a mile wide. The fresh air and well groomed trails seems to have that effect on people.

One of the best parts for myself was the lookout tower we accidentally found. There was a narrow trail that had a decently steep incline. We naturally wanted to go up it, and it just so happened to be the trail up to a lookout tower with a spectacular view of the fall colors. It was breathtaking. And not just from being winded from the uphill climb.

The great walking trails aren’t the only offerings at Quarry Park, it also features

  • Granite reflecting pools
  • Two swimming quarries
  • Scientific and Natural Areas
  • Mountain bike paths over billion-year-old bedrock
  • Trout fishing
  • Picnic Areas
  • Hiking Trails
  • Geocaching
  • Derrick Exhibit
  • Rock Climbing
  • Scuba Diving
  • Prairie Restoration Site
  • Scenic Overlooks
  • Cross Country Ski Trails
  • Winter walking/dog walking/Snowshoeing/Fat Tire Bicycle trails

There’s outdoor fun for everyone in the family year round. Take a look at their website to learn more about all their different outdoor offerings.

Cory, Norman, and myself all had a great time taking in the views and fresh air at Quarry Park and Nature Preserve. I’m certain we will be back as much as we can before winter comes to Minnesota.


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