Crow Wing County Highpoint Trip Report

one unnamed hill (1,490+ ft)

Date: May 27, 2005
Author: Mark Ness

Crow Wing County's highest point is one of the most remote in the state. It is located in Section 5 of an unnamed township, just a few hundred feet from the Cass County Line. It is also nearly surrounded by swamp land. I was able to get there with very little swamp interaction. This was after a month of below average temperature and above average rainfall.

Approaches to the Crow Wing County High Point Trailhead: I considered two primary routes, from the south and from the west. When I looked at the topo map, I noticed that the route from the west was largely covered with swampland, and the distance was about 2 miles from the nearest road.

I followed the southern approach, though. From Garrison, on the western edge of Lake Mille Lacs, I drove west on State Highway 18 for 4.3 miles and turned right onto S.H. 6. I drove north on S.H. 6 for 31.7 miles, and, at Emily, turned left onto County Road 1. I drove west on C.R. 1 for 5.6 miles, and turned right onto Kego Lake Road (paved for the first 1.1 miles) I drove north on Kego Lake Road for 3.5 miles where the road ended at a circle turn-around. To the left is a marked private driveway and to the right is Wolf Lake Trail, a one-lane path that can be driven by passenger car. At one point, there was a small, fallen tree across the road. I got out of my car and moved it out of the way. I continued driving generally north on this winding trail for 2.2 miles (at 2.0 miles was an open gate). The trail turns to the west here and continues on to the north part of Wolf Lake.

At this point, I parked my car on the side of the trail, where I considered the closest approach to the high point that provides a route on high ground, avoiding the swamp, especially the large one southeast of the HP (approximate elevation 1445 feet). It was about 3/4 mile straight-line distance from the parking spot to the top, closer to 1 mile hiking distance.

The trail: I didn't realize it until I was on my way back but there is a foot path on the route that can be followed for a large part of the hike. I started walking through the woods, monitoring my GPS and the surrounding terrain, staying on the high ground as much as possible. I skirted the big swamp along its eastern edge, around its northern arm, and then mostly southwest to the high point. I did walk through some shallow, squishy land but not bad. The woods were relatively thick but not thorny, with the usual amount of fallen trees and branches.

The summit: It took me about 45 minutes to get to the summit and, when I got there, I found a well-defined, rounded top hill, as the topo map suggests. It was obviously the highest point in all directions as far as I could see. I found and placed six small stones on top of a moss-covered clump.

The hike down: I followed the GPS track back toward my car, correcting as needed when, after some tricky swamp avoiding, I encountered a foot path that seemed to go where I needed. Along this path, which, at its low points, was water-covered, it started lightly raining. As I held my GPS up to maintain a satellite lock, drops fell on it, and it occasionally lost power.

After following this path for about 1/3 of a mile, where I was about 500 feet from my car, the path ended and the GPS failed. All the batteries I had with me failed to even power it on. I became concerned that I would not have a working GPS for the rest of my trip. Nevertheless, I continued on the last vector and ended up on the road about 40 feet from where I parked.

I got back to my car 45 minutes after the summit. Total hiking time was about 90 minutes.