Ascent of Washington County High Point on 2015-06-24

Climber: Scott Surgent

Others in Party:Beth
Date:Wednesday, June 24, 2015
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Washington County High Point
    Elevation:1104 ft / 336 m

Ascent Trip Report

Washington County is located between St. Paul and the Wisconsin boundary. Its highpoint is one of two small hills, both containing water towers, about four miles apart from one another.

I didn't print a map beforehand, and only recalled the locations based on notes I took while at a computer at the Rochester Public Library (I didn't want to hassle with a printout). Both highpoint hills are located along suburban roads, the north one in the city of Oakdale, the southern one in Woodbury. I figured I would look for hills with water towers atop them when in the area.

We were returning to Minneapolis-St. Paul for our flight out later today. We drove northbound from Rochester and then followed the loop highway (Interstate-494) east and north into Washington County, roughly where Interstate-94 branches off toward Wisconsin. I exited the freeway at 10th Street North, went west a quarter mile to Hadley Avenue, then south. We could see the tower behind some homes and amid the trees. I turned onto Hadley Lane, a tiny round-about with a few homes. We parked near the tower and both walked to it, a 20-foot walk.

I was a little suspicious that this seemed too easy. I drove the immediate area, but in all directions, the land dropped down, although it was hilly nearby. I knew I was on the right road, so this had to be the highpoint. Still, I was not sure.

For the southern area, we got back on the freeway and went south a couple miles to Valley Creek Road, then east a little over a mile to Tower Road. We could see the water tower (and other towers) set back from the road about a hundred feet. The hill was surrounded by a city-owned facility, with all sorts of city vehicles going in and out.

I drove to the next residential road, Highpointe Road, then followed that to Windsor Road, looking for a possible way up the hill. We found a spot along Highpointe Road that had a path up to the fence that surrounded the top. I decided to go back out to the facility and try my luck there.

I pulled into the facility. The gate was open and the signs weren't too intimidating (just one that said "authorized vehicles only"). I saw some other vehicles parked, so I parked in among them, hiding in plain sight. I still felt a little uncomfortable being here without permission. Some guy was getting his truck in order, so I asked him if it was okay, but he did not work directly for the city. I'd lollygagged enough. I walked up the rest of the road and up to the top of the water-tower hill, tagged some high spots and turned back to the car. The walk took just a couple minutes. No one stopped me.

I drove back to a point along Highpointe Road and walked a path in the grass up to the fence that surrounded the hilltop. I was curious if it got close to the actual top. It does, but stops short about three vertical feet. Scaling the fence would be difficult due to razor wiring. I also drove north to an apartment complex on Tower Lane, which seemed possibly as high as the tower hill.

We got moving from here, driving into Bloomington to spend time at the Mall of America, just a couple miles from the airport. We still had a couple hours to kill, so we walked around, got a bite and camped at the bookstore. We flew home that night. Later, I checked the maps and yes, we had been to both highpoints properly, so I didn't have to doubt myself.

Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:30 ft / 9 m
    Round-Trip Distance:0.3 mi / 0.5 km
    Trailhead:1074 ft / 327 m
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike

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