It’s blackberry season. While I sit here typing this out in mid-August, I have a hunch there are literally tons of them out there going unpicked. And while not every year is good for blackberry picking, we’ve had good rainfall in 2020, which is a good sign. It was the same last year, when I literally picked gallon after gallon throughout most of August and into September, within a mile of my home. Continue reading “Foraging in Minnesota: Blackberries”
Chengwatana State Forest
Snake River Campground
Chengwatana State Forest is one of the closest sizeable state forest parcels to the Minneapolis/St. Paul area. As a result, it gets its share of traffic, especially considering the fact that much of the forest is swamp land and difficult to access. To its east lies the St. Croix River. At its northeast is St. Croix State Park and the confluence of the Kettle and St. Croix rivers. At the south end of the main part of the forest is the confluence of the Snake and St. Croix rivers. Few roads offer access to its 29,000 acres, so there is potential for getting far from human presence, if desired.
The Snake River Campground lies 9 miles or so east of Pine City, on the south bank of the Snake River. When I visited there in the spring, the sound of the rushing river was a pleasant backdrop as I wandered through the campground loops, and a few of the campsites are a healthy stone’s throw from it. The campground is on the edge of a small pine grove, and most of the sites get good shade from the pines, oaks, and aspens. There are two vault toilets- two aging vault toilets in the first loop, and a new one in the second loop. Water is available by hand pump. There is also a picnic area next to the river. The first time I visited this campground was in midsummer, and the daytime mosquitoes were fairly aggressive; due to topography and dense forest, there is little hope that the wind will keep them at bay. I also noticed a bit of poison ivy along the camp road and bordering some sites, FYI.
Site 1 is a gorgeous campsite, set back from the road with a great tent pad area suitable for a large tent, and well shaded by white pines. Angle of approach may prohibit long trailers, although there is enough room to accommodate one.
Site 2, while small and difficult to back trailers into, is shady and close to the loop’s vault toilet.
Site 3 also benefits from the shade of the pine plantation and seems very desirable overall.
Site 4 is shaded by the campground’s oaks and pines. There is plenty of room for tents, if set up on the driving surface; this site lacks good tent areas otherwise. It is flush with grass and pine needles.
Site 5 is the first site that is good for backing trailers into. Spacious and shaded by pines, it is fairly level as well, and easily one of the better overall campsites.
Site 6 is a little more open and sunny, with plenty of room to park a trailer or set up tents on its grassy areas. It is also close to the river and the water pump.
Site 7 is shady and level, with lots of good choices for tent placement.
Site 8 is a bit more open and sunny than most sites here, would be good to back a trailer into, and has lots of area for parking.
Grassy site 9 gets some midday sun, is long, and sits at a good angle for backing in a trailer. It seems well-screened from other sites.
Site 10 would be a bit sunny, with little overhead tree cover. It has a good approach angle for trailers, good tent areas, and is close to the latrine.
Site 11 is right next to the toilets, but does not have much room for parking. There is space at the back of the site which is nice and grassy, but appears lumpy.
Site 12 does not have much grass. It would probably be best to use with a camping trailer as a result.
Site 13 would perhaps be difficult to back long trailers into, but is shady, and fairly level and grassy.
Site 14 is probably the most open and sunny campsite in the campground. Since it is fairly level with good grass, it would probably be good for a couple of tents, if desired. Otherwise, it has room for a vehicle and maybe a shorter trailer.
Site 15 enjoys good shade among the pines, and is level with lots of room for tents.
Site 16 is fairly shady and grassy, and is right next to the water pump.
Site 17 also has good shade courtesy of the pines, and is nicely level and secluded.
Site 18 has little overhead tree cover and is close to the site behind it (6). It is, however, one of the better sites to back a trailer into, with plenty of length.
Site 19 is a basic site near the river. It does not have much level ground and would probably be difficult to level a large trailer in. It is, however, fairly close to the river and therefore has no campsites behind it.
Site 20 is shady and secluded, and near the toilet in this loop. It is fairly large with lots of room for tents.
Site 21 has an uphill approach with limited room at the back of the site to set up tents. It would not be good for a larger tent, and maybe hard to level a long trailer, but it has a good angle for backing one in. This moderately shaded site is also one of those closest to the river. It may be one of the most desirable campsites in the whole campground.
Site 22 is near the vault toilet, and is a fairly secluded site. It has plenty of room and a good angle for backing into.
Site 23 is fairly well shaded by pines and aspen, with some midday sun. It does not have a kind angle for backing long trailers in, but it does have a fairly long driving/parking surface. It may be good for multiple tents, but really does not have grassy surfaces to use. Also sits along the river.
Site 24 is best suited for trailer camping, with lots of room for parking but not much grass. There is some room at the back for tents, but not much level ground. It is one of the more private campsites.
Site 25 is the last of the campsites along the river. Well shaded and spacious at the back, it could host multiple tents. It is, however, mostly dirt/mud and other sites offer much better tenting surfaces (especially true for the first loop). There is a trail that leads from the back of the site down toward the river and the walking trail through the woods.
Site 26 has a longer parking surface, and is one of the better sites to back into. This shady site is fairly level with limited grass, but could fit multiple tents.
~Click on or hover over slideshow photos to see campsite numbers~