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Just A Day in the Park Week 8: Luke Visits the KAXE Neighborhood

Just a Day in the Park
Just a Day in the Park with Traveler Luke Gorski

Continuing his journey to visit all 66 Minnesota State Parks this summer, Luke Gorski visited some of the parks that listeners to KAXE/KBXE are quite familiar with. In this conversation with Heidi Holtan on the Morning Show, Luke follows some advice given by a listener and explores the offerings of parks in the north-central part of the state. Click the "Listen" player above to hear the full conversation.

Luke has certainly been saving the best of Minnesota's state parks for last. With only a handful of parks remaining on his journey, Luke finally visited some of the parks in the KAXE neighborhood. Here is a run-down of Luke's parks this week and some of the noteworthy features he mentioned in his conversation with Heidi on the Morning Show.

Zippel Bay: This is Minnesota's northern-most park, and Luke noted that of the three entry points to this park on Lake of the Woods, only one is above water. The area is still dealing with the historic flooding from earlier this year, and according to Luke, "It is still very waterlogged in this area right now."

Franz Gevney: Minnesota's smallest park is near International Falls, weighing in at only 110 acres, according to Luke. Luke has been keeping us informed about all the oddities that he finds, and there was an oddity sighting at FG. "The main thing I was interested in, is there is a big outcrop in the middle of the park and there is a picnic table on the top of the rock. The park sign says if you can get to the top of the rock, by all means do it. There's no trail, but it's a good place to sit."

Savannah Portage: This park sits on the Continental Divide between the Mississippi River drainage and the St. Lawrence Seaway drainage. Luke hiked the trail where if you spit on one side of the trail it winds up in the Gulf of Mexico and if you spit on the other side of the trail, it heads to Canada. "That was pretty cool" noted Luke.

Hill Annex Mine: Unfortunately, HAM will probably be closing after this summer, so if you want to visit this look at Minnesota's mining history, now is the time to do it. The park features a museum and the 20 or so acres around it. "When I was there, the guide gave me a very enthusiastic tour and the history of the place," Luke explained. For mine-history enthusiasts, this is a must-do for 2022.

Soudan Underground Mine: The underground tours of the mine at SUM are closed for the year, Luke reported, but he was still able to walk around the mine area on his own. "I also drove up to the Vermillion Unit, and you can tell it was built recently because everything is very, very new. The park is built up on a mountain so you could see pretty far," said Luke.

Schoolcraft: "I was at Scenic right at the beginning of 4th of July Weekend. The campground was packed." Luke noted that Schoolcraft is Minnesota's second-smallest state park, and sits right on the Mississippi.

Scenic: Luke visited Scenic and was excited to check out the fire tower in the park. If there is a scenic overlook, Luke will definitely be there. But he also mentioned a theory that he's testing out this summer. "If a park has a fire tower it is 100% more likely to have really bad bugs. Scenic had both!" At the recommendation of a KAXE/KBXE listener, Luke hiked the Chase Point Trail and he thought it was pretty cool. "I liked the tall pines and the lakes on both sides of the trail. It was a cool little experience."

McCarthy Beach: "The beach on Pickerel Lake was a big attractor for people in the park when I was there," Luke reported. "You can walk 500 feet out into the water and still only be waist deep. If you're hiking, definitely check out Pickerel Lake."

For those of you keeping score at home, Luke has visited 56 Minnesota State Parks, which leaves another 10 to do on his journey.

"I'm very ready for the North Shore" Luke said.

Check out our final reports of Luke's journey in the coming weeks. And as always, if you have a favorite trail, feature, or oddity, let us know by calling into the station at 218-326-1234 or sending a message to Comments@KAXE.org.

A picnic table on top of the rock outcrop at Franz Jevne State Park
A picnic table on top of the rock outcrop at Franz Jevne State Park
The Chase Point Trail at Scenic State Park
The Chase Point Trail at Scenic State Park
The Pickerel Lake Trail at Mccarthy Beach State Park
The Pickerel Lake Trail at McCarthy Beach State Park
The old Soudan Mine at Lake Vermilion-Soudan Underground Mine State Park
The old Soudan Mine at Lake Vermilion-Soudan Underground Mine State Park

Heidi Holtan has worked at KAXE/KBXE for over 22 years. She currently helms the Morning Show as News and Public Affairs Director where she manages producers, hosts local interviews and programs, oversees and manages web stories and establishes focus areas of programming like phenology, clean energy, Indigenous voices, Strong Women, local foods, clean energy, economic development and more. Heidi is a regional correspondent for WDSE/WRPT's Duluth Public Television’s Almanac North. In 2018 Heidi received the “Building Bridges in Media” award from the Islamic Resource Group for her work on KAXE/KBXE hosting conversations about anti-Muslim movements in rural Minnesota. During the pandemic, Heidi hosted 14 months of a weekly statewide conversation on COVID-19 for the AMPERS network.