Discovering the Lost 40

A bike ride is always better when there is a good destination. So I was thrilled when Rich proposed that we bicycle to the Lost 40. It’s not far from our cabin, but in the 26 years that we’ve owned it we have never been there. This visit was long overdue.

Lost 40 signIn 1882 intrepid surveyors camp in the November chill and swirling snow to survey the Minnesota Northwoods. Somehow, an error in their calculations places Coddington Lake about 1/2 mile further northwest than it actually lies. As a result, the timber in that area appears to be under water and is never logged. Today, those lost acres (actually 144 acres) of old growth timber are a local treasure.

The National Forest designates this as a Point of Interest. It is a very low-key attraction on a dirt road with only a sign and a parking loop marking its entrance. But the 2-mile trail through the forest is well worth a visit.

Rich on Lost 40 TrailThe trail is easily followed, with a wide flat surface. There are just enough informational signs to be interesting without interrupting the flow of a leisurely walk. I learn to distinguish the bark of a white pine vs a red pine. I try in vain to find the fern-like seedlings of cedar trees. I can see the effects of the rust disease brought in by imported pine species. I hug an enormous red pine. And admire a massive white pine. These trees are up to 350 years old and between 22 and 48 inches in diameter.

Big pinesThere is no admission fee. No visitor center. The only amenity is an upscale porta potty. The trees are the attraction. They sell themselves. We are lucky they are still there. No longer lost, they remain for us to see and appreciate.  I sure enjoyed discovering them.

Tall virgin pine

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