Our first outdoor adventure of the new year took us to Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge in Zimmerman, about an hour north of the Twin Cities. The mixed-habitat refuge boasts more than 30,000 acres of tall grass prairie, wetlands, oak savannah, and oak forest—all of which take on an otherworldly quality when blanketed in fresh snow.
We clomped along the Blue Hill Trail, a 5.1-mile path with gentle hills and storybook canopies. It was 22 degrees and wildlife was scarce, but visitors who are luckier than us — or simply more observant — have spotted beavers, fox, river otters, bald eagles, sandhill cranes, and hairy woodpeckers around these parts. (The refuge has been designated an Important Bird Area by the National Audubon Society.)
On our drive back to the Twin Cities, we stopped at the family-owned Jawad Grill in Blaine for takeout. The no-frills eatery shares a roof with a gas station, laundromat, and tattoo parlor, but Chef Atieh’s king-sized gyros are the stuff of legend. As the Governator says, ve’ll be back.
Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge
17076 293rd Ave. NW, Zimmerman, MN; 763-389-3323.