Beaver Creek Valley State Park
Nestled deep in the wooded valleys of southeastern Minnesota, Beaver Creek Valley is the epitome of quiet seclusion amid pristine natural resources. Its spring-fed streams and hardwood forests are home to rare migratory birds, secretive reptiles, and wary trout.
STEP INTO SPRING Hike on bottomland forest trails through blankets of springtime wildflowers, such as dutchman's-breeches, trillium, and jack-in-the-pulpit. Look for vibrant green watercress year-round along the banks in East Beaver Creek. Climb to dramatic views on challenging trail spurs that lead to the top of the 250-foot valley walls. Find patches of native prairie and oak savanna on south- and west-facing slopes. The murmuring creek lulls overnight visitors to sleep in nearby campsites. Reserve the electricity-equipped camper cabin from mid-April through October.
FREQUENT FINDS White-tailed deer, beavers, gray and fox squirrels, raccoons, woodchucks, and coyotes are often spotted by sharp-eyed hikers. Deeper in the maple-basswood and oak woodlands, you might find scarlet tanagers, yellow warblers, least flycatchers, and blue-gray gnatcatchers. Ruffed grouse and wild turkeys also inhabit the park.
HUNTER'S HAVEN Spring turkey hunters searching for quarry in the heart of the state's wild turkey habitat often set up camp in Beaver Creek Valley's wooded campsites. Although hunting isn't allowed in the park, turkeys abound on nearby lands.
RARITIES Lucky bird-watchers might glimpse a rare Louisiana waterthrush, Acadian flycatcher, or cerulean warbler in the bottomland forests near East Beaver Creek. The elusive five-lined skink, a striped lizard that grows to about 8 inches, has been seen at the small bluff prairie openings in the park. Timber rattlesnakes, uncommon in Minnesota, are known to inhabit Beaver Creek Valley.
FISHING FUN Brown and native brook trout have been reproducing naturally in East Beaver Creek since the stream was last stocked more than 30 years ago. Only the most meticu-lous anglers fool wary trout in the creek's crystal-clear waters.
INSIDER'S FAVORITEPark visitors who want to escape the first warm days of spring might hike to Big Spring, the main source of East Beaver Creek, where 47-degree groundwater percolates from the bedrock.
HISTORY The area's first European settlers harnessed Beaver Creek's moving water to power grist mills, grinding corn and other grain into flour or feed for livestock. Schech's Mill, just outside the north edge of the park, was built in 1876 and continues to operate. Owners give tours on weekend afternoons during the summer.
For more information see DNR State Parks - Beaver Creek Valley or contact the DNR at 651-296-6157 or 1-888-646-6367.