Sunday, April 7, 2019

Warner Valley Dinosaur Tracks and Fort Pierce

Some friends of mine told me about the Dinosaur tracks near my home so I thought I'd check them out with Judi, my 5 year old. 

To get there from State Street (SR-9) in Hurricane, Utah, take 700 West (Airport road) south for about 2.5 miles until reaching 2060 South. Take a right (begin going west) on 2060 South which will soon turn into 1100 South as it turns around the airport. Stay on 1100 south for about 3.5 miles until it turns into a dirt road. The dirt road "Y"'s as it starts - head straight, not right.

You'll be on this rough dirt road for about 2 miles before coming to a posted sign indicating that the Dinosaur Track Site 7.6 miles away, off to the right. 

From this point the dirt road is very well kept and easy for a passenger car to travel on. There are two more signs, pointing the way to the tracks. For the most part, it's pretty easy to find. As long as you follow the signs and stay on the main dirt road, you'll get there. 

Here's a look at the parking area.

There is a small parking area that can accommodate about 10 cars or so. From the parking area, it is just a short hike to the main dinosaur tracks - maybe a quarter mile or so. A sign and water diversion wall mark the main area of the tracks.

This is where the most obvious tracks are - on the left side of the wall where the people are walking.

Although Judi and I continued past the main sign and wall, I didn't find any Dinosaur tracks other than those by the water diversion wall. The tracks there were shallow but very cool as you could see the length of the dinosaur's stride as well as the direction he headed in. 

Here's a look at one of the tracks next to Judi's foot.

After we spent a little while exploring around the tracks, we headed back to the car. We saw a sign on the drive back indicating that Fort Pierce was a little was ahead. After asking Judi if she wanted to go, we decided to check it out (all I had to say was the word "fort" and Judi was in!).

We followed the signs to Fort Pierce on the well maintained dirt roads, the only difficulty being that there are two signs indicating a turn off to Fort Pierce. We took the first one and ended up in a large parking area with an unmarked dirt bike trail head. I decided that I didn't think this was right so I continued on the road and saw another sign for the Fort Pierce turn off not too much farther ahead. 

We parked and headed on a trail below the Fort. It lead us to a neat panel of Indian pictographs. 

We headed back on the trail to the parking area and then headed up the trail to the Fort. Judi had a great time exploring the small structure and I imagined the early pioneers trying to defend themselves from invading forces. 
Here's a look at one side of the fort.

It was a fun trip that both Judi and I found educational and fascinating.  

Here are a few more pictures from the trip:

Dinosaur tracks:
The first of two signs pointing the way to the dino tracks

The second of the two signs pointing to the dino tracks.

Here's a look at what the well maintained dirt road looks like as you get closer to the tracks sight.

This is the trailhead marking the way to get to the tracks at the end of the parking area.
Here's a look at the sign that has a map on it of the location of the 400+ tracks.

A closer look...

Here's the back side of the sign.

Here's a look at some of the dino tracks...

Judi, by some tracks. You can see how long the stride was by looking at these tracks.

Doing some exploring below the Dinosaur track sign. 
Pictures from Fort Pierce:

Doing some exploring on the trail below the fort...

Here's a look at the whole fort.

Judi enters the fort.

Judi relaxes inside the fort.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Toquerville Falls

Toquerville Falls is a very picturesque spot along the La Verkin Creek, located just just off Spring Drive in Toquerville, Utah. To get there, you head east on Spring Drive out of Toquerville for 5.6 miles.

The first few hundred yards are paved but soon the road crosses a cattle guard and turns into a rough dirt road. I attempted to make it to the falls in my Honda Accord but after about 2 miles turned around because the road was too treacherous for a passenger car.

The roughest part of the road is encountered about 2-4 miles from the start. After 3.6 miles the road forks - stay to the right. There is much elevation gain and loss on the road and for a time we wondered if we were on the right road because we had gained so much elevation and could see the canyon that La Verkin Creek was in far below to the right.
If you click on this picture, you can enlarge it to see the falls from the road.

After about 5 miles, you'll be able to see the falls from the road. Continue following the road, which is well maintained at this point, and take a final right as you near the falls.

When we got to the parking area, there were about 20 or so vehicles parked and many people enjoying the falls. I had not expected the falls to be so crowded on a Wednesday early afternoon!

The water was frigid but the falls were beautiful! The water was running much higher and faster than I had seen in pictures probably due to the snow runoff and the recent rains.

Although this really shouldn't be considered a hike, as the falls are about 50 yards from the parking area, it was a fun trip nonetheless.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Pike Island Loop, Fort Snelling State Park, Minnesota

Most of my hikes are around my home base in Southern Utah but the family and I went to Minnesota to go to a Vikings game and I had a half day to do some hiking.

Fort Snelling State Park is located just north of I494, off of hwy 5 in St Paul. There are 18 miles of hiking trails, 5 miles of paved biking trails, and 10 miles of "mountain biking trails" as they are are called by the park service although, from where I'm from in Utah, I would hardly think of them "mountain bike" trails since they are wide flat very well kept dirt trails. In 2016 there was a nominal fee of $5 per vehicle to enter the park.

I decided to try a simple 3 mile loop on Pike Island that would take me to the confluence of the Minnesota and Mississippi Rivers. Pike Island is a litteral island because it is surrounded by both the before mentioned rivers. There are 1, 2 and 3 mile loops that can be undertaken but the 3 mile loop is the only one that takes you all the way to the confluence, so that's the one I decided to do.

The trail is well defined and easy to follow, but finding it among all the trails can be a little tricky. From the Visitor's Center, I headed west until I came to a 3 way fork in the trail. Left takes you to Fort Snelling, the middle trail is the Minnehaha Trail which follows the Mississippi River for as long as you want to take it, and left takes you to a small bridge that crosses a little break-off of the Mississippi River to reach Pike Island.
At the 3-way fork in the trail, you'll see this information stand. Head past it to get to Pike Island.
Here's the small bridge you cross to get to Pike Island.

I hiked the loop in a clock-wise direction which means on the way out I had the Mississippi River to my Left and on the way in I had the Minnesota River to my left.It would be a pretty hike in either direction.

Here's the hike in Pictures:
Standing on the small bridge looking south down a little break-off of the Mississippi River toward the large traffic bridge. 
Here's a look from the same bridge looking north.
Once across the bridge, there is a sign detailing the Dakota Indians who once lived in this area.
And here's another sign taking a little more about the area's history.
Here's the trail as it's just getting started. I imagine the hike would have even been prettier in the summer when the trees still had their leaves.
I tried to capture the eerie look of the fog rising from a meadow but didn't do it justice.
After about a half mile, the Mississippi River is seen to the left (north) of the trail. I guess this was an advantage of hiking the trail after the trees had lost their leaves - I had a better view of the river.
The Mississippi River.
At this point in the trail, two hikers had stopped and were looking at something ahead. As I came up on them I noticed a Buck standing about 30 yards away on the right side of the trail. Just moments earlier, I had heard a crashing noise, like a branch breaking or something. However, when I reached the hikers, they informed me that there was another Buck present and that they had just butted heads, their antlers making a loud crashing noise. If you zoom in really close on this picture you can vaguely make out one of the bucks on the right side of the trail. I later saw them both run through the brush off to the right as I continued on the hike. 
Another look at the trail as it approaches the confluence.
Here's a look at the confluence. The Mississippi River is the river that flows from under the bridge in the distance to the left of this picture. The Minnesota River comes in from the right.
Here's a better look at the Minnesota River that flows in from the right.
A boater enjoying the Mississippi River.
Here's the trail as it leaves the confluence an heads back along the south side of Pike Island.
Soon the Minnesota River comes into view...
Here's one final look at the trail before it crosses the small bridge to complete the 3 mile loop.
This is one of the many trail signs along the hike that show you where you are in relation to the trail. 

I've always enjoyed river hikes, weather it is the Colorado River or the Virgin River closer to where I live. I'll now add the Mississippi River to my list of enjoyable river hikes. It was also informative to learn about the previous inhabitants of the area and the way they survived. There wasn't any elevation gain of loss to speak of and the hike took me just over an hour to complete. If solitude is what you are looking for, you won't find it on this hike as it is a very popular trail with runners and locals who like to get some exercise while enjoying the beauty of the area. Calling this a hike though is really overstating what it really was - a very enjoyable walk.