Even as the seasons change swiftly from autumn to winter, the brisk air outside offers a sweet, and responsible, escape from the isolation of stricter quarantine. Whether taking a jaunt to clear your head, enjoying a lovely stroll with friends or showing your family about St. Peter before returning home for the holidays, it is never a bad idea to enjoy the outdoors that the area has to offer. Every Gustie worth their ROAR knows about, and has hopefully spent a bit of time, enjoying the amenities of the Arboretum- perhaps you even enjoying a leisurely hammock session there before the air turned sharper. Less frequented by the student population, however, are the Seven Mile Creek County Park and the lesser known Traverse Des Sioux Park. Both these hiking areas offer a breath of air and insight into differing aspects of St. Peter’s history.
Beginning with the Seven Mile Creek Park- the official Nicollet County website offers a brief destination snapshot of the 628-acre county park located off of Highway 169 between North Mankato and St. Peter. The park includes several multi-use trails and accompanying footbridges. Perhaps a winter stroll- should the snow return- may be enough to launch the festive spirit of a Gustie downtrodden by the prospect of finals.
Even if you have spent some quality time exploring the 8-mile stretch- revisiting could offer some insight into things you didn’t know before.
A fun historical fact for the geological nerds among us- according to the official Nicollet County website as provided by former Professor of Geology Mark Johnson, the Jordan Sandstone Outcrop at Seven Mile Creek County Park is estimated to be over 500,000,000 years old. Jordan Sandstone is also the material Beck Hall is constrcuted from. May that shocking tidbit serve as a reminder to all of us that despite its small-town status, St Peter may have a bit more to offer in history’s lens.
If Seven Mile Creek Park is old news to you- try going a bit further to Traverse Des Sioux Park. Ten minutes south down Minnesota Ave will bring you to this historic St. Peter landmark. Managed by the Nicollet County Historical Society, the trails here are open from dawn to dusk. The Traverse Des Sioux trails were once part of a pre-industrial trade route complete with a river crossing and trading post. Now there are about 10 miles of open, multi use trail to explore while getting a breath of fresh air.
Besides enjoying the 10,000 year-old trails in the Minnesota River Valley, this self-guided tour provides some history lessons along the way.
As the Minnesota Historical Society official site tells us, “Placards scattered along the trail share information about Dakota culture, the 1851 treaty, and its effects on people, transportation, the fur trade, and the town of Traverse des Sioux.”
There is nothing quite like escaping from the present into the past. While doing so you may also learn more about the cultures that inhabited this area for thousands of years.
Should your eyes turn outward past the confines of this town, Mankato and most places from here to there offer an abundance of natural habitat to explore. St. Peter’s charms, however, are part of what makes Gustavus a home away from home. In these claustrophobic and stressful times, the outdoors offer a necessary breath of air to responsibly re-center and refocus (just in time to prepare for the end of the semester). So even as the face of campus changes once more for the holidays, an escapade into nature is the perfect way to process your thoughts and relax. And if you are departing from this lovely little town, try and discover the natural safe havens that make your hometown what it is.