top of page

searching for fall color part four: the winchell trail

"you said you were going for a walk!? what kind of walk takes six hours?

"a long one?"

-cassandra clare, city of glass

you may remember, if you read the first blog about the winchell trail (the second one in the series), i made mention that the colors were not yet at peak though they were definitely making an appearance. what a difference a week made!

i initially thought this past fall of 2023 would produce a rather drab look as far as colors go. rain, one of the necessary ingredients for punching up the color levels, was pretty scarce for most of the summer. but then the rains came. and they came. and they came. while i don’t know if we made up the deficit, we certainly gave it a run for the money!

so when i returned to the winchell trail a week later, i was thrilled to see how much the colors had exploded! I had seen an image made by another local twin cities photographer made along the road that runs parallel to the trail. i already knew i would be going back to hike more of the winchell trail as i had only covered a very small portion the first time around. however, that image had me chomping at the bit to get back out there before the colors were past their peak.

a little bit of information about the 5+ mile winchell trail; it is named for newton horace winchell who was a noted geologist in the 1870’s. he surveyed the area the trail is situated in. he had nothing to with the actual construction of the trail itself. that was headed up by theodore wirth, a prominent leader in creating the minneapolis park system along with other notable achievements. i’ve included a link to a very interesting read about the winchell trail. i hope you take the time to read some, if not all, of the information and resources listed there to better understand some background about the trail.

although there are several access points to this trail that runs parallel to west river parkway in minneapolis, i entered the same place as the previous week. the urban sprawl barely 20-30 feet or so to my right just beyond the trees might as well have been miles away. the vibe was one of being deeper within the woods. of course, with my hearing loss, it isn’t too hard to imagine as i heard nothing that suggested the hubbub of urban presence. the flip side is true as well. the pitter patter of woodland creatures or the melodious chatter of birds, among other things, simply doesn’t exist in my world.

i entered this enchanted world of fall colors and took off hiking on the path. i quickly arrived where i stopped the previous week. here, i was a bit overcome with a dizzying array of psychedelic colors all over the underbelly of the short line bridge. a warning to you, the reader, that there is at least one crass word that i found “tagged” on the steel trusses. i do not plan to use this blog to share my thoughts of “tagging” or graffiti as many call it. i simply share this image because it was part of my journey on the path and, as i previously mentioned, was overcome by the “trippy” feeling it gave me. i’ve never indulged in hallucinogenic drugs but perhaps this is a representation of such an experience. at any rate, it was rather cool to see. it’s a rather photographed spot if you search for it. but if you’ve not seen it or heard about it (or if you have heard about it but not seen it) here it is for your viewing experience. i have to confess; the swing had me intrigued. who knows…maybe someday i’ll go back with my striped bell bottoms, platform shoes and ruffled shirt and make an image of myself contentedly swinging there 😂. just a reminder that you can always click on the images to isolate them for a better viewing experience.

after i had my fill of time traveling to the decades of the ‘60s and ‘70s, i moved on…but not too far. almost immediately after climbing a short incline that took me just past this train bridge used for delivering grain into the twin cities, i was stopped by a partial clearing that looked out at the bridge crossing the mississippi river.

and here, folks, is another inside look at what i enjoy. i collect vintage viewmaster reels (1960’s and earlier). well, i started and then stopped due to needing to prioritize funds. i don’t have a lot at the moment but i enjoy them immensely. i plan to pick it up again someday. i’m not ashamed to say i enjoy nostalgia and collecting things that give me simple pleasures. there are a few things i collect that bring me joy and make me feel like a kid again. viewmaster is one of them.

this particular partial clearing that i came upon evoked from me a response of looking at a viewmaster reel minus the 3d effect. if you have ever looked at landscape reels in a viewer, maybe you can see how this image reminded me of that. a somewhat common theme of viewmaster reels is to have a view be framed by its surroundings which also helps to enhance the 3d effect as the surroundings are usually closer to the camera than the main view. the glow of the leaves around the bridge gives it a nice framing effect as well.

i really enjoyed this view even though the bridge was not completely in the clear. though the branch covers most of the bridge, it extends mostly parallel with the bridge which, to me, creates a sense of flow and not as much of a distraction. even more than that however, again for me, it’s about what a scene evokes as well. this image, despite the branch, evoked that sense of nostalgia that compelled me to create an image the best i was able to do so. it brought back to me a remembrance of childhood joy. i want to leave you with this thought from photographer and instructor david duchemin who shares the same concept here.

"Merry Christmas.


"In art," said Ralph Waldo Emerson, "the hand can never execute anything higher than the heart can imagine." This echoes in the words of photographer Don McCullin: "Photography for me is not looking, it’s feeling. If you can’t feel what you’re looking at, then you’re never going to get others to feel anything when they look at your pictures.


For me, photography is often looking for something to feel more deeply about. Often, that feeling is wonder. Sometimes it's surprise. Other times, it's joy. Once in a while, it's the quickening of my heart, and now and then, it's the calming of the same. But mostly, it's the feeling of being more alive—of not just passing through the moment on the way to another one but of lingering longer. Of being awake to what this moment—this life—contains. Maybe the word for it is gratitude. Maybe it's love.

That's the purpose of photography, too. Or it is for me. To discover the world, and myself. To draw closer to what is distant. To see what's hidden. To feel - and be truly awake to - the wonder."

(my brand uses all lower case writing but i've kept the original capitalization david used in writing it.)

i continued onward. my hiking boots, step by step, would have a satisfying crunch with each placement on the ground (the vibration or feel, not the sound, as i’m hearing impaired). the path was a carpet of colored leaves mostly in the orange/red color spectrum. i came to another access point where one can leave the noisy rhythm of the city and enter the quiet sanctum of the woods. here, at the base of the concrete stairs leading into the woods, were three large stones. my guess is limestone or sandstone but i’m no rock hound. i just know what i like when it comes to stone. these? i loved them. why three stones after the concrete stairs? i have no idea. i couldn’t find anything in my search. but i know there is a story there. just to get those huge slabs where they are cannot have been an easy feat. perhaps it has something to do with the wpa (works progress administration) as they made improvements to the trail between 1936 and 1938.

this image also evoked a sense of nostalgia for me. my dad, who is no longer here on earth, was a man who was not fazed by what others thought of him. he was who he was. one of the things he enjoyed was being silly. as i look down the path in this image, i get a picture of my dad skipping down the path, whistling along the way. oh yeah….he was a great skipper and a great whistler! i never heard the whistling but others made it clear he was proficient at it!. i don’t remember if i was ever brave enough to skip with him. i know i never whistled like him as i can’t whistle. i can’t remember if i laughed when he would skip and whistle or if i was just embarrassed. i do seem to remember my sister and mom saying they were embarrassed. he was just being silly but i wouldn’t be surprised if he did it to bring some joy to others as well. i mean…how can you not smile watching a grown man skip and whistle?

for whatever reason, that picture of my dad skipping and whistling came to the forefront as i kept gazing at this image. it brings a smile to my lips thinking about it. i really love the sense of mystery this image offers up as well. the path here descends and eventually disappears beyond the trees. what is beyond the trees? where does the path take you? is my dad still skipping and whistling out of sight 😂? make up your own story about where this path is going to take you.  oh, and by the way, you may be wondering where is the third stone as i mentioned there were three of them. it is right at the end of the concrete stairs and is just off camera; my tripod is set up on it.

as i moved on with my hike after making the image, i came to a section on the path where the lighting was amazing! as the sun was rising and its rays brushing the landscape with a color pallete of warm yellow, it was creating an incredible sense of depth and glow as as well as a fantastic play with light and shadow! i’ll be honest; these two images are definitely on the list of my favorite images of 2023! the first image is my favorite of the two. i love the soft glowing green leaves toward the upper left in the first image. i feel they add an extra oomph to an already special image! the river in the background you are seeing is the mississippi river. the blue tones harmonize perfectly with the yellow leaves of the trees. i feel blessed to have been in the right place at the right time!

toward the end of my hike on the winchell trail, i veered off onto another path that took me down to the shoreline butting up to the mississippi river. as i walked this shoreline, i was reminded of an area that i fell in love with while living in northern california. it doesn’t look anything like it; it just stoked a memory of it. at one point while living out in california, i thought the next progression would be to move to that area at some point. roughly 5.5 hours north of sacramento where we lived was a small town situated right on the pacific ocean called eureka. for my work at the time, i had to drive up to that town periodically. as much as i loved the area, the varied topography of that furthermost northern section of california was just as alluring.

there lives in that town a couple (timothy and jessica) that i had the privilege to meet at a church event in sacramento. i felt a connection with tim (hopefully he felt that way about me as well 😂) when i met him there. an age gap does exist between the two of us, but i've always been of the opinion age doesn't matter as much as people may think it does. tim is also a photographer. i can see the two of us exploring the region, basking in all the natural glory the area reveals as we search for them and documenting it with our respective cameras. all the while, i like to think that we would be building up a friendship that dives deep below the normal "guy talk". the next progression actually ended up being a move back to minnesota instead. i have the blessings of family and friends close by as well as photography friends here, i still periodically think about eureka as a possibility someday. you just never know…

as i was walking along the shoreline, boots slightly depressing into the soft sand and reflecting about eureka, i pulled myself out of the reflecting and focused on what i was seeing. the sun was still relatively low in the sky as it was was not yet 9 am. i became aware of the leaves scattered on the path before me and was drawn in by the vivid red hues accentuated by the warm tones of the sunbeam. my eyes followed the leaves ahead and came to a stop upon a tree festive looking with red leaves - leaves that stood out even more against the black backdrop behind it.

the path is a well traveled one as evidenced by the footprints on it. i wonder how many people have walked this path and reflected as i did? how many people have walked this path mulling over the pains and/or joys of their current life situation? or walked this path for nothing more than needing a simple pleasure of feeling the sand between their toes? perhaps as we come to a close of 2023, i encourage you to take a quiet inventory about the various “paths” you have traveled this year. how have they impacted you? what paths made you stronger and better? what paths do you need to put up a “trail closed” sign and stay away from for 2024?

after watching a few rowers pass me by on the mississippi river, i made the return trip back through the woods and eventually to the access stairs that took me back up into civilization. i was pretty certain this was the last of my search for fall color as it was at a peak here in the twin cities. a dnr map of where to find fall color showed most of the rest of the state, with the exception of some southern spots which were also at peak color, now past peak color. but i was thrilled to have had the opportunity to visit three different locations on four separate dates in my search for fall colors! i hope you enjoyed seeing some of the fruits of my exploration for fall colors!

i really enjoyed writing this four part blog series. i’d love to hear your thoughts and comments on it. did you enjoy reading it? let me know why you enjoyed it! is there an image or are there images that really resonated with you? let me know which one(s) and why! was there anything i wrote about that spoke to you in a special way? again, let me know what it was i wrote and why! part of the joy of writing blogs is hearing from you as a reader when something made an impression on you.

as i like to provide, here are sample images to help you get an idea of size perspective in terms of how an image would look as a wall print in your home and/or business. send me a message via my facebook page message button or a contact form on my website if there are any you are interested in. i’ll work with you to create a wall print that will bring you years of viewing pleasure. these images will also be in my online store soon and can be ordered that way as well.

short line bridge - 18" x 12" print matted and framed

color surrounding short line bridge - 18" x 12" print matted and framed

down the steps - 24" x 16" metal print

the glow between the shadows - 27" x 40" print matted and framed (right)

the glow by the river - 45" x 30" print matted and framed (left)

path along the beach - 20" x 30" print matted and framed

i want to express a huge thanks to all of you who read my blogs and/or purchased my prints in 2023. it means the world when you support me as a local artist who continues to grow as a photographer and as a small business owner. it is not always easy. but it is so gratifying to hear when one of my blogs and/or a print that you have seen at my art fairs and perhaps even purchased resonated with you in some special way.

please consider sharing this blog with others. one of my goals each year is to increase my readership base. two of the best ways are by word of mouth and sharing via email and social media. if every one of you shared my blogs with just one other person every time i come out with a new blog, that is a potential doubling of my reader base right there. so thank you to those of you who actively share my blogs. for those of you who haven’t yet, perhaps consider helping me garner more exposure for my blogs by sharing them with others.

as you can probably imagine, this will be my last blog for 2023 though i hope to post a few more images on my facebook page (stephen hadeen photography) before the end of 2023. it is my hope that it has been the happiest of holidays if you don't celebrate christmas and the merriest of christmases if you do celebrate christmas thus far.

i will see you next year with more “images from my quiet world”!

Recent Posts

See All


Oh husband of mine. I’ve smiled, teared up, laughed and contemplated as I’ve read this blog. Thank you for reminding me of dad’s silliness. He truly is a wonderful man and I look forward to seeing him again in heaven. His skipping was truly memorable as he was a tall man and skipped with abandon. the picture you say is one of your favorites of 2023? Understandably so and I am requesting a metal print for our living room. It may be my favorite as well. It evokes a sense of mystery, whimsy and wonder in my heart. I’m just sure there are fairies in those woods. Thank you for sharing yourself with us. As always very well done!

Replying to

I’m glad you enjoyed a wide gamut of feelings reading this Penelope. Glad to also hear you really liked the one I told you I was excited about!

bottom of page