I assume they were lumber barons in the St. Croix Valley 125 years ago. I don’t know their last names but the wise folks who created William O’Brien State Park sure found a clever way to combine their first names. Or, maybe there was just one guy and his name was Willie “Moe” Brian. I still can’t figure out why they replaced the “a” in Brian with an “e”. More ruse I suspect.
William O’Brien State Park has been a Hill Family favorite for a long time. Kathryn and I took the kids there many times and I always wanted to run the trails. With little kids in tow, it was never realistic for me to take off for an hour or two and leave Kathryn to manage the brood. With Kathryn cheering me on from heaven and the kids old enough to explore on their own, I can now get out an run those trails. Over two trips I have now finished all the miles at William O’Brien. It took me a little over 20 miles to cover the 15 miles of trails at the park. The DNR lists it at 12 miles but the recently created “southern trails” add another 3ish to the total for about 15. If you have not explored the southern trails, you should! They are the most remote trails in the park and are the least developed, a beautiful combination for those that love single-track near the metro.
So far, I have completed 37.79 miles at St. Croix State Park, 11.5 miles at Myre-Big Island State Park, 8.93 miles at Afton State Park, and 20.36 at Willie Moe’s. That’s 78.58 miles toward what I expect will be 1,300 miles to complete all the parks in Minnesota.
Up next: Flandrau and Fort Ridgley State Parks near New Ulm this coming weekend. Both parks have about 8 miles of trails and I plan to finish one park per day. I think it will take about 10 miles to complete each one. The kids will get to explore an important part of Minnesota history at Fort Ridgley. It was involved in the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862 and some of those fort remains still exist as does the main battlefield. For homeschoolers like us, this is true hands-on history. Kathryn would be so incredibly excited for a trip like this!