The Drive: Moving out of the forest and into the farms. And that's all I really have to say about that.
The Park: Named for the famous "discoverer" of the Mississippi headwaters, Schoolcraft State Park is a small park situated on a marshy stretch of the Mississippi River surrounded almost completely by farms. Although it is supposedly known for its virgin forests and "elegant" water, the park has little to attract people except perhaps being the only natural area anywhere around. The park is clearly not a popular one since when I drove in on a Sunday afternoon in July, not only was I the sole hiker in the entire park, a park staff gave me a confused look from a distant building as if nothing could be more unexpected than an actual visitor.
The Trail: I quickly discovered why this isn't a haven for wilderness hikers. The trail is a short 1.8 mile loop that pretty much covers the entire park. You get a few pine trees, but nothing like the mature forests in the other parks, and a view of the river (as seen above). In fact, the two most exciting things I encountered in the park were a massive 300 year old white pine and a pretty cool mushroom, both of which could be viewed from the trailhead.
But I will say this in favor of this park. So many state parks are built around an exceptional landmark, like a historic building, a pristine wilderness lake, or a rare ecosystem, but Schoolcraft embodies the space in between. If for no other reason, Schoolcraft is worth visiting to be reminded that you can enjoy a simple grove of pines and a large toadstool as much as any of the unique experiences the other parks might have to offer.
But don't go out of your way because this mushroom will probably be gone by the time you get there.
Cumulative Miles Hiked: 7.7
Cumulative Miles Driven: 366
Hike Type: Pine Forest, Deciduous Forest, River