A Little Time and a Keyboard: Nature Flourishes at Quarry Park and Nature Preserve in St. Cloud, Minnesota

Nature Flourishes at Quarry Park and Nature Preserve in St. Cloud, Minnesota

Saturday, July 30, 2022

 

Exploring a Wonderland of Rock Formations and Reflecting Pools at Quarry Park and Nature Preserve in St. Cloud, Minnesota

St. Cloud, Minnesota bears the nickname 'Granite City' as an homage to a long history tied with granite quarries. Today, the rehabilitation of 20 former granite quarries crafts a fascinating and beautiful nature preserve for all to enjoy at  Quarry Park and Nature Preserve. During our visit, we savored a summer morning exploring the 684-acre preserve.

A blend of rocks, verdant foliage and quiet reflecting pools enchant at Quarry Park and Nature Preserve.
A blend of rocks, verdant foliage and quiet reflecting pools enchant at Quarry Park
and Nature Preserve.

We began our visit at Quarry Park and Nature Preserve in a historical section featuring equipment used for quarrying. Here you can see the Liberty Derrick which was used for quarrying and has been restored using a fir tree from Oregon. The Derrick House which houses controls for the derrick. Around this section, you will also find other quarrying artifacts as well as a nice pile of imperfect granite that could not be used. 

Interesting Fact: Liberty Derrick is operated about 2 times per year.

Liberty Derrick sheds light on how granite was quarried.
Liberty Derrick sheds light on how granite was quarried.

Granite quarried in St. Cloud was used in construction and you can see the granite in buildings and monuments throughout the city, state and the country including the St. Paul library. Throughout our hike at the preserve, we observed the remnants of the quarries and the throw piles of granite with defects. Both the rock formations and the piles molded such an intriguing landscape.

A throw pile of granite rocks emerges above the tall wild grass at  Quarry Park and Nature Preserve in St. Cloud, Minnesota.
A throw pile of granite rocks emerges above the tall wild grass.


Breathtaking View of Reflecting Pool Surrounded by Chunky Granite and Verdant Foliage

Immediately next to the history section, I spied the most beautiful, idyllically serene view. Entirely breathtaking! The reflecting pools in the 20 former quarries throughout  Quarry Park and Nature Preserve certainly dazzle. Take a peek:

A tranquil reflecting pool is framed by chunks of slightly red-tinged rock and vibrant green foliage at Quarry Park and Nature Preserve in St. Cloud, Minnesota
A tranquil reflecting pool is framed by chunks of slightly red-tinged rock and vibrant green foliage.

The summer sun, chunk-a-block rocks, drapes of vegetation and calm pools crafted spectacular view after spectacular view. We really felt swept away from it all at this magical spot.

Interesting Fact -- Scuba Diving is permitted in designated quarries in the park.

A moving bridge traversed through the wetlands with tall grasses on either side.
A moving bridge traversed through the wetlands with tall grasses on either side.

Dazzled View After View

Trails guided us to a cornucopia of views including woodlands, open prairie and wetlands. Some trails wound up to spectacular views. Most of the trails were fairly easy. You do not need to take the more elevated trails in order to be spellbound by the preserve.



About 4 miles of trails traverse the preserve and weave in between 20 former granite quarries. Recreational activities within the preserve are plentiful and vary by quarry. Adventures include swimming, cliff jumping, rock climbing, fishing, scuba diving, mountain biking, hiking and more. There even is a quarry with a sand beach!

Please Note: A parking permit is required. They can be purchased at the gatehouse or online. Permits are also required for rock climbing and scuba diving.

A weathered rock ledge offered a perch to observe trees "painted
A weathered rock ledge offered a perch to observe trees "painted' on a calm pool
of water as a reflection.

We paused throughout our hike to just be. We delighted in watching children jump from the rocks into the reflecting pool. We admired a cache of prickly pear cactus. Sweet deer welcomed us throughout the preserve. Lichens on the red granite created interesting kaleidoscope patterns. Quarry Park and Nature Preserve really represents a remarkable example of how we can rehabilitate former quarried areas restoring nature and crafting a magical nature experience for all.

Exploring a Wonderland of Rock Formations and Reflecting Pools at Quarry Park and Nature Preserve in St. Cloud, Minnesota Featuring 20 Rehabilitated Granite Quarries



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