With another month of school keeping students to the grind, nearby trails this spring might help break up the day and take down the creeping stress accompanied by finals week.
If you find some downtime in your schedule, there are a number of places to burn off some steam near SCSU. Most of the trail nearby could take as little as 20 minutes to blaze through, or up to a couple of hours, if you’re just strolling along.
Luckily, most of the trails close to campus aren’t hard to find.
The Munsinger Clemens Garden sits just across the river from SCSU. If you’re strolling along the river walk that runs behind Stewart Hall, you can scope out the gravel trail that parallels the Mississippi River.
If you’re walking or riding your bike from campus, it should take less than a half hour to get to, being just over a mile away.
It’s still early from many flowers at the gardens, however the gardens offers a more relaxed walk along with a number of swinging benches overlooking the river. Often times there are a number of ducks and geese walking along the riverbank, swooping to and from the water.
The gardens is fairly short walk through, but it has many little trails that weave in and out of the gardens, through the moss-covered gazebo and eventually running across the road to another set of gardens.
After making your way through the gardens, you can head across University drive southeast and continue your stroll through Riverside Park. Less popular for walking or hiking, Riverside might cater best to families, but offers a Disc Golf course and a tennis court too.
There is a trail that runs through the park—some areas are paved, while others are gravel or beat down—so if you’re stretching your stroll from the Gardens out, it might be well advised to watch for flying discs.
After bobbing and weaving your way through Riverside Park, and you’re still looking for a place to trump around, then continue going for about another mile down. You’ll be on Kilian Boulevard southeast, which will bend and turn into Minnesota Boulevard.
You’ll head along that road for another mile, and then you’ll come to the intersection of 15 Avenue Southeast and Minnesota Boulevard. You can head on through the stop, but watch for a little dirt road on the left.
Getting onto the dirt road in, the entrance to the North Loop trail near the dirt parking area. The North Loop attracts cross country skiers and cyclists, but the winding trails work just find for hiking too. The Loop also offers a bit more of a hike than the Gardens or Riverside Park, but it is a bit farther from campus.
The Loop is a more wooded area. There’s a wide main trail, but veering off are a number of narrow muddy trails.
And yet, there are a still a few more places to walk or hike in St. Cloud, but they’re a bit farther away from campus.
Leaving the Loop, if you’re still looking to hike about, head back out onto Minnesota Boulevard—headed away from the Gardens—until you hit route 10. Cross 10, and you’ll turn right onto another bump road.
Arriving at Sand Prairie Wildlife Management Area, you’ll be able to hike for a couple hours, if you’re turning down every trail, but you’ll also be able to learn a bit about the area.
Right out front, there are three large signs that have an array of information on prairie restoration practices by the Department of Natural Resources, along with the history of Wildlife Management Areas (WMA), and you’ll be able to see a chart of the various kinds of flowers and plants that take root in the prairie year round.
After you’re nice and informed, there are two main routes you can take. There’s a loop through the prairie that’s a bit on the shorter side, or you can head out to the observation deck, where bird-watchers can rejoice and those seeking solitude can look no further.
Both routes offer a leisurely walk through the prairie, taking you to the tension point, where the prairie meets the forest, and out to the deck.
Standing out on the deck, hikers have a variety of birds and waterfowl to watch in action, or it can be as simple as taking a moment away from the city to just sit and be surrounded this seemingly untouched place.
If you’re leaving the WMA, and you’re still looking for more, the Beaver Island Trail, which is near the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center, runs along the Mississippi, parallel to the Gardens, and connects with the St. Cloud River Bluffs Regional Park.
If you’re cycling to the park, you’ll get there in no time flat, but walking might take be a bit of a cruise. However, once you’re there, you can make your way through another set of winding trails, running on a steep hill in a wooded area.
After making it through all of those local trail this spring, and you’re still not satisfied, you might want to consider headed east on interstate 94 to Lake Maria State Park for another close-to-home excursion.
However, being a student, who is sometimes limited to the boots on your feet for a means of transportation, sticking to these should be enough to get you through the rest of the semester.
This article originally appeared in the University Chronicle on April 6, 2015.