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Walking on water: Visiting the frozen city lakes of Minneapolis

If you’re willing to bundle up and venture out into the latest Vortex you can find some unique winter experiences here in the cities.

Photo by Paul Udstrand
Lake Serpent on Lake of the Isles

It’s been a cool winter thus far, very cold. Not the coldest I’ve seen but the coldest in a while. There’s a lot of complaining going on but there are some definite advantages to this cold weather.  If you’re willing to bundle up and venture out into the latest Vortex you can find some unique winter experiences here in the cities.

We try to make something out of our winters in MN; we have dog sled races and Winter Carnivals amongst other things. A couple weeks ago the Annual Winter Loppet took place in Minneapolis. This is a three day cross country ski event that takes place in the Uptown area, around the lakes, and in Theo Wirth Park.  One of the Loppet events is a “Luminary” evening that’s quite beautiful.  The Loppet Foundation builds a track around Lake of the Isles and Lake Calhoun. That trail is lined with ice installations and sculptures that are lit with candles on the night of the Luminary. Participants can ski, walk, or snow shoe along the trails where bon fires, hot chocolate stations, and fire dancers await. On the night of the actual Luminary you have to pay in order to go out on the lake, but during winters like this one, the trails and sculptures survive for weeks afterwards and provide wonderful free and completely public opportunity for anyone who wants to venture out and explore one of our greatest urban assets.

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The best thing about this weather is that it creates fantastic trail conditions. The cold temps and lack of fresh snow mean that the trails are very solid and compacted. It’s like walking on a sidewalk out there. That may not be ideal for cross country skiing but its great for the rest of us. You can easily walk, run, or bike all over the lakes and get a different perspective on one of our most beautiful public spaces.  I’d guess there’s about 7-10 miles of trails out there and there’s a lot to explore.

Warmer weather and or several inches of fresh snow will turn this into slush or obliterate the paths so jump out there while you can. Right now you don’t need skis or snow shoes. 

I’d like to thank my trusty canine companions Ole the Lab and Liffey the Border Collie for adding a little something to my photos. You can look at more photos from our expedition on my Paul’s Photography Facebook Page.

Photo by Paul Udstrand
The channel leading from Lake of the Isles to Cedar Lake
Photo by Paul Udstrand
Cedar Lake is the wildest of the lakes. There are a lot of woods surrounding it that you (and your dogs) can explore.
Photo by Paul Udstrand
The view of “Ice Henge” on the way from Cedar Lake to Lake of the Isles.
Photo by Paul Udstrand
The ice sculptures in the “Enchanted Forest” on Lake of the Isles have survived thus far because of the cold temps.
Photo by Paul Udstrand
The ice Pyramid on Lake of the Isles with downtown Minneapolis in the background.
Photo by Paul Udstrand
The approach to Lake Calhoun from the lagoon between Calhoun and lake of the Isles.
Photo by Paul Udstrand
In the lagoon again returning to Lake of the Isles from Calhoun. You can see the pyramid.

This post was written by Paul Udstrand and originally published on Thoughtful Bastards.

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