The Mdewakanton Dakota once considered the confluence of the Mississippi and Minnesota rivers to be the sacred center of the world. You will understand why once you have sat quietly on the small beach at the tip of Pike Island, at the very point where the two mighty rivers meet. It can seem a palpably spiritual place, made all the more beautiful by the journey to get there, an easy mile-and-a-half stroll through the lush woods of Fort Snelling State Park, shaded by cottonwood, elm, and silver maple. Along the way, there's a good chance you will spot deer through the trailside leaves, and you will think the experience no less profound for the occasional roar of an Airbus landing at nearby MSP International. That nearness to civilization is one of the remarkable things about Fort Snelling, and one reason why it is usually the most visited state park in Minnesota. Yet even on weekends, you will probably only see a handful of other seekers on the Pike Island trail. A trip to the park will cost you $5, but that seems a small price to pay for a visit to the center of the world.