Thursday, June 23, 2011

Lady's slippers and Larry Weber at Jay Cooke

Heavy rains this week have returned the North Shore rivers to flood stage. Rains also damaged the road construction underway near Split Rock Lighthouse, slowing the traffic there. This is the weekend to stay closer to Duluth and explore the seasonal wonders of Jay Cooke State Park.

Showy Lady's Slipper, from
Lady's slippers near and far
Wildflower fans come to Jay Cooke in early summer for the displays of lady's slippers. This week, there are yellow and showy lady's slippers blooming in the park, including some that are found right near the park office. Hike #1 from my book Hiking the North Shore, the 3.6 mile Silver Creek Trail, goes right past a huge stand of yellow lady's slipper. Stop at the brand-new park office for directions to the park's fabulous orchids.

The Swinging Bridge over a raging St. Louis River, 2008
The St. Louis River is running high after heavy rains, and should be thundering underneath the park's iconic Swinging Bridge by this weekend. But the river won't be the only noise there: park naturalist Kristine Hiller says that gray tree frogs are hanging out on the bridge stone pilings and calling.

Learn to fish, camp and birdwatch
Three interesting...and free...programs are on tap for this weekend in the park: on Friday, join the "I Can Fish" program from 1:00 to 3:00. On Sunday, there's "Camping 101" , also from 1:00 to 3:0.

Larry Weber
Early-risers, birdwatchers and nature lovers are in for a special treat. At 7:00 am Sunday morning, meet renown local naturalist Larry Weber at the campground bathhouse for a bird song walk. No binoculars needed, just listening. 

How to get there
The park is located in Carlton, MN. If you're coming from the Twin Cities, take exit 235 off Interstate 35 and head through the towns of Carlton and Thompson on Hwy 210 to the park. From Duluth, take exit 239 and follow the signs to Carlton and the park.

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