Luke and I love to drive the Wisconsin side of the Great River Road. In fact, we love it so much, we have to ration our visits in order to keep it special. Fall is an especially lovely time to visit: the shops, bars and restaurants are still open for business, the crowds have thinned, and the changing trees aggressively compete with the river for your attention.
We typically drive from Minneapolis to Pepin, then cross over to the Minnesota side on our way back home. One of our favorite stops along the way is a hike to the top of Maiden Rock. Luke knows how to expertly navigate the twisting back roads that dwindle into a dusty trail. At the end of a farmer’s field is a small parking area where you can pick up the trail heads. An easy hike through prairie grass leads you to a line of trees barely concealing sweeping views of the entire river valley.
With brave hearts and sure feet, we walked to the very edge of the rock cliff, greedy for every inch of the magnificent view. The cars below us looked tiny and we felt like superheros hovering high above the treeline. My last visit to Maiden Rock was two years ago, when Luke proposed to me at sunset. It was incredibly special having that moment in this setting. And time has nearly erased the memory of finding a tick on my stomach while changing for bed.
The ticks were replaced by a muted pallet of fall colors that we would have stared at for hours, but we wanted to make it to the Stockholm Pie Company before closing time. On our way back to the car, we got sidelined by the discovery of an old barn tucked into the foliage. We explored in and around the structure, picking up hundreds of tiny burrs in the process. By the time we made our way back onto the River Road burr-free, the pie company had closed for the evening. No matter – there were plenty of additional stops along the way.