Bucket list: Climb Barn BluffJudy Hong has lived in Red Wing for 15 years, yet the number of times she’s gone up Barn Bluff can be counted on just one hand.
By: Regan Carstensen, The Republican Eagle
Judy Hong has lived in Red Wing for 15 years, yet the number of times she’s gone up Barn Bluff can be counted on just one hand.
“Of course, you never do anything locally,” Hong joked.
Whether you’re visiting the area or have been a lifelong resident, planning a hike up the historic hill is a must at some point. It towers more than 330 feet above the banks of the Mississippi River, composed of sandstone, siltstone and dolomite.
Hong’s latest hike on Barn Bluff was Monday morning. She was accompanied by 11-year-old granddaughter Teresa O’Sullivan, who was enjoying a summer vacation away from her home in Albertville, Minn.
Also joining Hong was Chipper, a miniature poodle. With a small body and adventurous spirit, the pup had a hard time keeping himself by his owner’s side. Instead, he would race up ahead, walk back to check on his hiking buddies and head off on his own again.
“He probably walked twice as far as us,” Hong said with a laugh.
Just as Chipper was excited to see what he could find farther up the trail, everyday hikers also have a lot to get excited about while making their way to the top of the bluff. From a variety of trees and rock formations to caves and lesser-traveled paths, there’s plenty of exploring to be done.
Hong said she tries to limit her hikes to cooler days, but not everyone is kept away from the bluff because of hot and humid weather. Whether they’re interested in a nature walk or a rock climbing excursion, people from all around the area will plan a trip to Barn Bluff throughout the entire summer.
“They’re outdoor enthusiasts so they just bring water,” Red Wing Visitors and Convention Bureau Director Kathy Silverthorn said.
According to Silverthorn, Barn Bluff — also known as La Grange — is one of five main locations that the VCB sends tourists when they’re interested in getting a taste of historic Red Wing.
Some come for a spontaneous trek, while others prefer to plan their walking routes in advance. For that reason, the VCB offers ways to help people be as prepared as they want to be.
“We have maps on Live Healthy Red Wing,” Silverthorn said, referring to www.livehealthyredwing.com.
Barn Bluff features five prominent trails, ranging in difficulty and distance. While the South Trail employs wider walking paths and fairly gentle slopes, the North Trail puts hikers right at the bluff’s edge several times throughout its .84-mile length.
Hong is familiar with the South Trail, having hiked it more than once. On Monday morning, however, she opted for the North Trail for the very first time — and liked what she saw.
“The north trail is much more interesting and more natural,” Hong said. “The view is phenomenal. You just can’t beat it.”
Jonathan Carver, an 18th century explorer, agreed, describing it a bit more in depth.
“(The view is) the most beautiful prospect that imagination can form. Verdant plains, fruitful meadows and numerous islands abound with the most varied trees,” Carver said. “But above all, reaching as far as the eye can extend, is the majestic, softly flowing river.”
Of course, Barn Bluff isn’t the only way people can get an overhead view of “pretty Red Wing.”
Sorin’s Bluff offers a similar perspective of the community, but without any exercise involved. People can get in their cars and within minutes they’re at the top, where Memorial Park sits. Still, some prefer to see the nature on the way up instead of breezing past it on a paved path, which is where Barn Bluff takes the cake.
“It’s not the same as driving up Memorial Park,” Hong said, explaining that she prefers Barn Bluff, hands down.
Lucky for her, it sounds like a few more hikes are in the near future. O’Sullivan was the first of many kids who will climb Barn Bluff with their grandmother this June.
“I’m having grandkids all month, so this is at the top of our list,” Hong said.