Ferber Park is full of surprises. City parks are normally tame ordinary affairs. They feature comfortable green benches positioned to give tranquil views of local natural wonders. Curved walking paths, manicured green lawns, peaceful lake views, and impressive historical statues are the normal expectations of a city park. Ferber Park is different.
Ferber Park is located off Highway 111 on the north edge of Fergus Falls.
Some people refer to it as the old Norgren property. Last week I pulled into
the parking lot not sure what to expect. Walking from the parking lot I
had a choice of two clearly marked trails. I chose the North Country Trail (NCT) and followed the blue blazes.
Instead of last year’s rough cornstalk stubble I was walking on a mowed grassy path rimmed with beautiful prairie flowers in full bloom. The cornfield is still visible 40 feet away, but my immediate view was filled with quarter-sized purple aster blossoms and big bluestem grass that nearly topped my 6-foot frame. White and yellow flowers bobbed in the breeze with graceful arching grass seed heads. The NCT peekaboos in and out of the woods and prairie for a half mile. Each turn of the path brings new visual wonders.
The trimmed and mowed path is an easy walk through the cool shaded woods. I turned a corner and looked ahead for the direction of the path only to meet another surprise. Instead of a blue blaze on a tree to mark the trail a rusted engine block enveloped in the roots of a tree carried the iconic blue blaze.
This must be a historic reminder of the junkyard that occupied these acres before it became a city park. No founding father on a pedestal here. It is a remnant of the car parts and metal recycling that occupied this site.
A half-mile farther and the shouts of kids burst through the dense foliage. They were shouting about the twists and turns on the mountain bike trail that parallels the NCT at the north end of the park. Enthusiastic mountain biking volunteers had built the other trail in Ferber Park. The tree- and rock-covered glacial moraine offered a surprising challenge compared to the normal paved bike trails. The sheer joy in the boys’ voices as they pumped sturdy bikes around sharp curves and up steep hills exemplified the excitement of Ferber Park.
No comfy green benches here to calmly take in the views. These benches are for resting from an exhilarating hike or ride through the prairie, woods and hills.
Thank you to the city park staff and the volunteers of the NCT and the mountain bike trail. You have given me one more way to go out and enjoy the surprises around Fergus Falls.
Kim Embretson member of MN Waters and Prairie Chapter of the North Country Trail Association.