Date: August 23, 2016 (Raina) September 1, 2016 (Jill)
Distance: 0.4 miles
Elevation: 1,951 feet
Vertical gain: 130 feet
Bathrooms: toilet structure near the trailhead (I didn’t use it); flushing toilets at Hill of Beans 0.8 miles away
It’s rare that the approach to a state highpoint is a smooth, paved road. Highpointers rejoice because reaching the Timms Hill trailhead is lovely. After the picturesque and smooth drive in past a few beautiful lakes, you arrive at a good sized parking lot near the trailhead.
Just past the parking lot is a playground and covered picnic tables. If you’re traveling with kids, this venue gives everyone some room to burn off energy. If you prefer to make a picnic lunch out of it, the group of covered tables offers nice shade and a comfortable area to relax.
The trail itself is short, easy to follow, and largely shaded. The terrain isn’t flat, but it’s steady enough that a 6 year old can race you up the entire stretch and then sprint up the wooden tower steps without slowing down.
At the summit, two towers sit side-by-side: one wooden, and one steel. Be sure to see the views at the top of one of the towers. My recommendation is the wooden tower since it has stairs that allow for easy, safe climbing. Climbing the steel tower is permitted, but you might want to clip in for safety.
Look for the USGS marker under the steel tower and the register at the base of the wooden tower.
If the less than half a mile of hiking plus a few flights of stairs isn’t enough to stretch your legs after the car ride, Timms Hill offers plenty of other hiking trail loops to explore.
Hill of Beans (0.8 miles away) has yummy paninis and pickles, so try to time the stop with lunch. Look for the hummingbird feeder while you’re there. Plan ahead, though, they’re closed on Mondays.
As I kicked off this highpointing goal, my mission was to see the World’s Largest ball of twine. I’m delighted to report seeing two of them on one trip. If you are traveling between Timms Hill and Eagle Mountain, I highly recommend stopping at the world’s heaviest ball of twine made by one man, James Frank Kotera. JFK also claims to have made the world’s largest ball of twine, but so do three other Midwestern locations (KS, MN, and MO). Depending on how you measure largest – girth (his is not the widest or tallest) vs. length of rope used (he may win in this category), he could have the world’s largest. Either way, at over 20,000 pounds, he wins on weight. The highlight of our day was getting to meet the sole creator of this twine ball. He happily chatted with us until my daughter and I both ran out of questions and was even so kind as to pose for a picture with us. Be sure to sign his register while you’re there – look for the mailbox to the right of the ball.
If you find yourself west of Minneapolis, budget in a stop at the world’s largest twine ball in Darwin, MN. While we enjoyed this stop, it is far more touristy and seemingly less authentic than JFK’s ball. It sits behind plexiglass, so you can’t get a good photo. Plus, the twine is all one color and appears strewn about sloppily, held together at the bottom with a net. By contrast, the JFK ball is tightly woven in many colors with an over/under technique that is truly beautiful. The sole maker of the Darwin ball passed away, so there’s no meeting him. The benefit stopping in Darwin is their gift shop, where you can buy twine merchandise (I love my twine ball magnet) and the playground across the street. You’ll also get to hear fun stories of the town’s mayor pushing a large twine ball down the street during their Twine Ball Days celebration.
Jill’s Note: We stayed in nearby Minocqua, Wisconsin and had the pleasure of seeing a waterski show by the Min-Aqua Bats. It’s worth a stop if you can time it right!