4/13/2012

Riding the Ravenna Trail Back in Time

I recently took a trip back to the 1870's log home I spent a couple of summers in as a kid.  It is located on a section of land called Hungry Point Farm in Ravenna Township just south of Hastings and north of Welch.  Hungry Point Farm is a community of historic homes from the 1800's that is like taking a step back in time to the nineteenth century.  When it first appears as you ride the wooded gravel road to the open fields surrounded by oak trees, you'll swear you went through a time portal.










It has been over 25 years since I had seen the old homestead and I was curious to see how things had changed or not changed over the years.  So I decided to map out a course using Google Maps Biking Directions and hop on my mountain bike and go exploring through the countryside like I did when I was a kid.  Riding my bike and exploring along the old gravel country roads was a great way to kick boredom when you're an eight year old.  I thought it would be fun to reminisce and try exploring those old roads once again.


I started my trip at the Cross of Christ Lutheran Chuch on Hwy. 61 in Welch.  I headed west on Hwy. 61 for a little bit to 145th Ave. where I headed north through the woods and countryside towards Hungry Point Farm.  I then took a right onto 218th St. E. to the old gravel road intersection where I used catch the bus to school.  There it was, Old Deerfield Road, the stretch of gravel that runs through the heart of Hungry Point Farm.  I had rode my bike on this stretch of road and the dead-end roads that run off of it hundreds of times as a kid.











When passing by my old house I saw a sign that intrigued me.  It said "No Motorized Vehicles Allowed".  Well I couldn't pass up this unforeseen opportunity to take a little off road trip through the woods.  It turned out to be a trail that meandered through some thick woods and underbrush mostly used by horseback riders.  It's still spring so the underbrush wasn't too bad yet and the fallen trees across the trail provided some technical obstacles.  I followed it for about a mile until I came to a large clearing where the high voltage powerlines from Prairie Island Nuclear Power Plant ran.  I decided to double back and get back to my original mission, but it was a fun little diversion.  Look for the  Horse Trail place-marker on the map from the link below.











I got back onto Old Deefield Road and headed towards what is now the Hungry Point Inn Bed and Breakfast.  This is where my dad used to board our quarterhorse when I was a kid.  With all of the country gravel roads, the rolling hills, fantastic scenery and the nearby Cannon Valley Trail, this  cozy little B&B with 1800's charm might be worth checking out if you are from out of town and would like to bike these southern MN locations.

Hungry Point Inn Bed & Breakfast
I headed down Old Mystic Road, which is a narrow and winding downhill gravel road that is sometimes impassable in the winter, to the Ravenna Trail.










The Ravenna Trail still looked like it did when I lived there back in the mid 1970's.  Not much had changed.  It brought back a lot of memories.  I turned right onto Co. Rd. 68 in the abandoned town of Etter, abondoned years ago because of the yearly spring flooding from the Vermillion River, and headed to the river bridge and boat launch where I had gone fishing many times.










I used to hunt for rabbits and squirrels in the river bottoms here when I was a teenager and know this area quite well.  These flat, sparse woods along the Vermillion run for miles and I noticed the ATV trails throughout and it gave me an idea to come exploring here for some off road biking in the future.  I figured this would be a good place to turn around and head back to the Ravenna Trail. 

Vermillion River Bottoms

It had been a morning full of memories, exploration and a nice getaway from the my fast paced life.  It gave me an opportunity to slow things down a bit and take in the beauty of the old country roads of my childhood.  If you've never experienced these rolling country gravel roads, it's a nice chance to get away from the city and blaze some new trails.

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