Peace and quiet just minutes away
The view from the top of Lone Rock goes on for miles. The UMore Wind Turbine juts out of the trees and past that the stacks from Flint Hills can be seen.
It's quiet up there. The only sounds are birds singing and the wind rustling through the trees.
The Lone Rock Trail is located in Empire Township. Hikers and horseback riders can travel the 9.9 miles of trail. During the winter, the trail is open for cross country skiing.
The miles of trail wind through restored prairie, forest, wetlands and farm fields. The trail offers an opportunity to take in scenery and view wildlife including more than 100 types of song birds, turkeys, deer and more.
"It's hardly used at all," said Bob Fashingbauer. Fashingbauer works for the Department of Natural Resources as a wildlife supervisor. Currently, the DNR maintains the trail.
Quiet and remote, the trail offers residents the chance to get away from the hustle without traveling far. Fashingbauer said it's easy to spend a day out there exploring the various areas.
The Lone Rock, itself, is off a beaten path on the east side but it's worth the effort.
The trail is part of the Vermillion Highlands, which were established in 2006 as a research, recreation and modified wildlife management area. The area was part of the University of Minnesota's Gopher stadium deal. The agreement created a unique partnership between the DNR, the University of Minnesota and Dakota County.
The Vermillion Highlands include 2,882 acres. In years to come, part of the area will be turned into a county park that will include a regional trail, a dog park, camping and other amenities.
As a modified wildlife management area, hunting is allowed by special permit on the property. Trapping, archery and firearms hunting provide for responsible management of turkey, deer, pheasant, goose, coyote, raccoon and other animals.
"Come fall there will be lots of cars out here," said Fashingbauer.
A hunter himself, Fashingbauer said the area provides a great place to hunt, especially considering it is so close to the metro. He said hunting draws a lot of activity to the area during the fall. During hunting seasons trail users are advised to wear blaze orange.
For more information about hunting at Vermillion Highlands call 651-322-4643 or visit www.vermillionhighlands.umn.edu/mgmt/wildlife/index.htm.
For hikers, use of the trail is free. The fee for horseback riders and cross country skiers is $5 for a daily pass. For horseback riders the trail head is the only access point onto the trail.
Dogs are allowed on the trail but must be kept on a leash. To protect the natural vegetation and landscape the DNR asks hikers and riders to stay on the trail.
The trailhead has parking and restrooms. There is also an area to dispose of horse manure.
The trailhead is at the north end of the Farm Loop, one of several trail loops on the property. To get to the trailhead from Rosemount go east on County Road 46 to Station Trail Road. Turn south on Station Trail. The trailhead is located just off Station Trail Road, south of 170th Street. Several large signs point the way.
For more information and maps of the Lone Rock Trail visit www.vermillionhighlands.umn.edu.