Jul 13 2010
Living in Minnesota, the Mississippi River is a large part of our state’s identity. We’ve crossed it in so many different places: St. Cloud and Minneapolis, Minnesota; La Crosse, Wisconsin; Davenport, Iowa; St. Louis, Missouri; Memphis, Tennessee; and near its mouth in Louisiana. No matter where we are, there’s something exciting about crossing the “mighty Mississippi.”
Did you know, however, that this mighty river, so strong and powerful as it moves downstream, has very humble beginnings? The outlet of Lake Itasca, between Bagley and Park Rapids, Minnesota, is the beginning of the Mississippi River. Here, in Itasca State Park, even the youngest children can say they waded across the Mississippi.
Visitors can wade through the clear water on a sand bed, navigate the rocks that mark the start of the river, or walk across on a log bridge. There are several trails and paths for hiking and biking, and the walk from the parking lot and visitor center to the water itself is a mere 800 feet.
For children in Minnesota, it’s one of those activities that teachers expect to hear about in “what I did this summer” reports. The variety of license plates in the parking lot of the Headwaters visitor center, however, proves that visiting the Mississippi Headwaters is an activity popular with people from around the United States.
On this trip, we didn’t have time to do more than splash in the river for a while, but our short visit to Itasca State Park was enough to let us know that we want to return for a weekend of camping, hiking, and biking on the scenic trails in this historic park.
Have you dipped your toes in the Mississippi River?
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