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A quick and easy Kids and Family cache, in a cool lil' historical area you might otherwise overlook!
At one time, most of central Minnesota was covered with a massive forest of Maple, Elm, Oak, and Basswood trees. This forest was called the Big Woods, and it stretched over 2,000 square miles of land across the state. Today, only scattered pieces of the original woods remain - less than one tenth of one percent in all - including a single 22-acre parcel of land in Wayzata.
Citizen efforts halted development plans for this land in 1998, and again in 2002. In 2003, the residents of Wayzata voted their approval on a bond referendum that taxed their property in the amount of $3 million dollars, in effect agreeing to help pay for the protection of the Big Woods parcel. An additional $1.8 million was raised by the "Friends of the Wayzata Big Woods" via private donations, and another $2 million was paid by The Retreat to purchase a residential center that was already standing on the property. And with that, the land was purchased by the City of Wayzata and permanently protected from further development.
We have spent many hours wandering in these woods, tucked in amongst the civilization of Wayzata. If you haven't seen it yet, you definitely need to stop by in the fall when the leaves change...the colors here are amazing! A description, stolen from another source, couldn't be more accurate when it reads: "An ankle deep carpet of red and yellow leaves covers the ground. Visitors are dwarfed by trees more 100 years old." We hope you enjoy your time here, in one of the last remnants of the Big Woods!
Location, Parking, and Access
Under the plan approved in 2003, the general public has full recreational access to the Wayzata Big Woods parcel. This is definitely public land! Please note, however, that the front of this property is shared by the public with The Retreat, a recovery and educational center for alcohol and drug dependency. Out of respect for those seeking treatment, please limit your search to daytime hours. When I contacted The Retreat to ask about access to the Big Woods, they confirmed that the only way to access the woods was indeed through their driveway, as the rest of the land is fenced off. Graciously, they not only gave permission for you to access the woods and trails this way, but also gave permission to use their parking lot - and also extended a welcome to stop in and say hello, if you want to learn more about the center or the area.
To get to the cache, turn directly from Wayzata Blvd into The Retreat at N 44° 58.277 W 093° 29.946 - there, you will see a sign for the center that also says "Public Parking for Wayzata Big Woods". Just past this sign are a half-dozen parking spots marked "Big Woods Parking". From here, there are multiple wood-chip trails through the woods. For obvious reasons, please stick to the trails to get to the cache - sneaking along the back of the building is not recommended.
You are looking for an 8-cup Lock 'n Lock container, stuffed to the brim with new toys and trinkets, a normal travel bug, and a White Jeep travel bug. For the first finders, I've also included an unactivated Colorado Geocoin, and the 'Noles kidlets put in a pretty cool lil' LED keychain flashlight. We hope you enjoy your walk through this unique and historical area...As always - thanks, have fun, and happy hunting!
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Coordinates are in the WGS84 datum