|Scenic State Park|
With its pristine lakes, virgin pines, swimming beach, and wilderness-like setting, Scenic State Park is well deserving of its name. Here, visitors can hike the Chase Point Trail for hypnotic views of Coon and Sandwick Lakes and listen to the wind whistle through the giant pines.
Lost Forty / Lost Forty SNA
|Description: If you desire to spend time in a remote, restorative place of peace and quiet, then travel to this destination in northern Minnesota. The “Lost Forty”, so-called due to a surveying slip-up, is located in the Big Fork State Forest and within the Chippewa National Forest.
The year is 1882. Josiah A. King and his three-man survey crew travel 40 miles from the nearest white settlement “the Grand Rapids of the Mississippi.” For a month, canvas tents are their homes and flour, pork, beans, and dried apples their rations. Josiah and crew are finishing the last of three contracted townships in one of the first land surveys of Minnesota’s north woods.
November winds swirl snow around the hearty men, as they survey the six-square-mile area between Moose and Coddington Lakes. Perhaps it was the chilling weather, or all the desolate swamps that caused the men to plot Coddington Lake about a half mile farther northwest than it actually lies. Josiah’s error is our fortune. Since the towering pines were mapped as being under water, this mapping mishap caused the virgin pine of the area to be left behind by loggers.
This site includes a narrow peninsula extending from a large upland esker. A black spruce and tamarack bog on one side and a willow and alder marsh on the other flank the peninsula. The area contains 28 acres of red pine forest and 18 acres of spruce-fir forest.
The virgin old-growth red pine forest is among the largest and oldest stands in the state. Most of the mature red and white pine is found on the east end of the site. These trees are up to 350 years old and between 22 and 48 inches in diameter. Pine may live up to 500 years.
In other areas of the Forest, white pine is managed for pulp (paper), lumber, wildlife and aesthetics, and the trees are harvested at about 80 to 150 years. Most of the aspen growing in the area is about 60 years old and is beginning to deteriorate. Aspen reaches its biological old age at about 85 years.
Like our National Monuments in Washington, D.C., the old growth pines of the Lost Forty bear witness to our heritage. These white and red pines were seedlings when the pilgrims came to America. The trees remain as remnants of the natural resources that drew people to new frontiers, shaping America’s character.
The Lost Forty is considered a unique area in the Chippewa National Forest and will be managed to maintain its old-growth character. Today, less than two percent of the Minnesota’s forested land is considered old growth. The Lost Forty stands as a proud monument of its legacy.
Wildlife to Watch: The SNA has a recorded list of 90 species of birds—including 21 species of warblers, with 14 warblers noted during the nesting season of 2008. Chestnut-sided, yellow-rumped, black-throated green, American redstart and ovenbird are found or heard with regularity.
An early morning walk through mature northern forest, with an impressive “dawn chorus” of singing warblers, thrushes, sparrows, winter wrens, and other woodland birds, is pure pleasure. While you are more likely to spot a northern flicker, yellow-bellied sapsucker, downy or hairy woodpecker, a three-toed woodpecker might surprise you. Listen for ruffed grouse drumming on logs during courtship season and throughout the year, the vocalizations of blue jays. American goldfinches, song and chipping sparrows, cedar waxwings and black-capped chickadees are also common.
The northwest corner of the SNA is riparian wetland that is the summer home of common yellowthroats, swamp sparrows and flycatchers. Overlooks along the western side of the hiking trail provide a good place to watch raptors, ravens, bald eagles and other birds passing overhead.
Old growth, such as the Lost Forty parcel, is valuable for other wildlife too. You may come across a black bear ambling in search of ants and insects, a striped skunk investigating, a weasel slipping through the woods, a small shrew scurrying in the pine needles or red squirrel chattering at your intrusion.
Special Tips: Early to mid-summer is a good time to see wildflowers in bloom.
Other Activities: The 114-acre Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ Lost Forty Scientific and Natural Area (SNA) is adjacent to the federal forest land of the same name. A one-mile, self-guided walking trail provides relatively easy access through the gorgeous site—it circles through the SNA, winding along the narrow upland esker and traversing the various plant communities. Fringed polygala, bluebead lily, twinflower and Canada mayflower are just a few of the wildflowers. Birding along the path adds to the experience.
Ownership: USDA Forest Service & MN DNR
Size: SNA 114 acres
Closest Town: Alvwood/Blackduck
Best Seasons for Wildlife Viewing: