Ascent of Buck Hill on 2015-06-20

Climber: Scott Surgent

Date:Saturday, June 20, 2015
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Buck Hill
    Elevation:1195 ft / 364 m

Ascent Trip Report

I had half an afternoon open and the weather was actually pretty nice, with mostly blue skies. It was warm (about 85 degrees) and humid, but nothing that would stop me. I asked Beth if I could bail for a couple hours and she agreed. My goal today were two county highpoints, those of Dakota and Scott counties, both located near Interstate-35 south of Minneapolis.

I left the hotel around 10:00 a.m. and drove west through Dodge Center to Owatonna, where I picked up Interstate-35. From here, I went north through Faribault and into the southern suburbs of Minneapolis, although I was still about 20 miles from the main city. The one-way drive covered just under 70 miles and took me a little over an hour.

I elected to visit Buck Hill first, then travel south and visit the second highpoint in Scott county afterwards. Unlike the cornfield counties I encountered two days earlier, these two highpoints were actual hills, not covered in corn, and relatively easy to reach.

Buck Hill is a ski area during winter, with about a 200-foot drop. It has one lift and a handful of buildings at the base. For skiers in the Plains, this is as good as it gets. I found it easily enough, as it sits about a half-mile west of the interstate. I pulled into the parking lot, which was empty save for one car on one end, and about twenty cars on the other end. These other cars looked to belong to a dealer, who was storing them here. They were all the same make and model.

With about 300 parking spots to choose from, I found one that I liked and rolled into it, then killed the engine. I grabbed my camera and walked into the ski area. The area is open, and I expected to see joggers or people playing on the grassy slopes, but there was no one. I walked around to find someone, but no one was in the buildings. There were a couple of "No Trespassing" signs hung in a couple spots. I preferred to have someone give me permission if possible.

After finding no one and determining the place to be entirely vacant, I walked up the hill anyway. I followed beaten paths through the shin-high grass and arrived to the top in 10 minutes. I took a few moments to walk around, step on mounds of earth and shoot a few images. I didn't linger.

On the walk down I looked over at another hilltop that looked as high from below, but was clearly lower when abreast of it. I jog-walked downhill and was back to my car after a total time of twenty minutes. No one ever saw me or said anything. I was quite sweaty in the humidity, so I treated myself to the air-conditioning as I drove south to my next objective down the road.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:200 ft / 60 m
    Round-Trip Distance:0.5 mi / 0.8 km
    Trailhead:995 ft / 303 m
    Route Conditions:
Unmaintained Trail, Open Country

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