On the trail of a glacier
You can follow the trail of a glacier.
And now, thanks to new signs and informational kiosks, you can learn a lot of fascinating facts along the way.
The Glacial Ridge Trail Scenic Byway system recently received $91,600 in state and federal grants and the participating counties – Douglas, Pope, Swift and Kandiyohi – each chipped in $4,580 each.
The money is being used to place interpretive, five-panel kiosks in all four counties, along with 17 historic site and trail road signs.
The grants were the culmination of a seven-year effort of the Glacial Ridge Development Trail Association.
The members, who include county commissioners, volunteers, local tourism leaders and conservation experts, recently met in Alexandria to see the new kiosk that was built by the Douglas County Historical Society’s parking lot along Nokomis Street in Alexandria.
The kiosk includes a map of the trail system, key highlights that can be found nearby, a listing of state parks, birding information, day trip ideas and historical and geological information about how the glaciers from 30,000 years ago formed many of the hundreds of small lakes that dot the countryside in the west central region of Minnesota.
The kiosk also contains panels for posting upcoming community events.
The area along the Glacial Ridge Scenic Byway is rich in cultural history and natural attractions.
It was the land of the Dakotas for centuries before the Europeans arrived. As the U.S. expanded westward, the Ojibwe were pushed into the area, displacing the Dakotas to the west. The first settlers moved into the area in the 1850s.
The byway is not a linear experience that begins at one end and finishes at the other. It’s described as a labyrinth of roads that can take many different routes, allowing people to choose their own points of interest, whether it’s historical, cultural, recreational or a simple scenic drive.
It stretches from Douglas County Road 42 near Lake Carlos State Park all the way south to Willmar, with jaunts in and around Alexandria, Nelson, Osakis, Kensington, Villard, Glenwood, Starbuck, Terrace, Swift Falls, Sunburg, New London, Spicer, Murdock, Kerkhoven and other towns.