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Re: Minnesota State Parks to Explore

Thought I'd start a thread for sharing of your favorite Minnesota State Parks. I've got a goal to hike in each of the hike-able MN State Parks. More than halfway there. I'm using the Minnesota Hiking Club Trails to pick where to hike in most cases.

Picking one to say is my favorite would be tough. I'll post a highlight here and there of some of my past hikes. First up: Big Bog State Recreation Area. Loved the out and back boardwalk into the middle of the bog! This photo was taken in June 2019 on a road trip to hike and camp in the northwest part of Minnesota.

9 Replies

@ruthsbluemarble Great conversation!

I hope @TomV can jump in, if I recall correctly he's been to every single Minnesota state park!


At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.

I sure have! Like @ruthsbluemarble said, it's near impossible to choose a favorite. I can share my own Big Bog story: we went in winter, and that's when I discovered the sole of my boots was starting to fall apart and letting snow in. Nothing like getting back to the car to take off your socks and wring out what felt like a gallon of dirty water out of them!

I am curious what you meant by the hike-able parks. The only ones I can think of are Garden Island Rec Area (OK, I have to admit that's the one we haven't been to. There's hiking I'm sure, but you need a boat to get to it. Or a snowmobile in winter I suppose but it's quite a distance off shore, basically the Northwest Angle), the Iron Range OHV area (we did do some minor hiking there once for one of their geocache challenges after checking in with staff, but extensive hiking probably not recommended for safety), and Cuyuna Country Rec Area (focus is mountain biking, but there is a paved State Trail running through, and snowshowing is allowed in winter).

I'll end for now with a couple photos from Tettegouche, about 5 years ago, one a panorama from the Palisade Valley overlook, and the other from the same hike, we were very lucky and happened to spot a pine marten!pinemartin.jpgtettegouche.jpg

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Notice your question about hike-able parks. I know that many of the SRA areas have hiking available, but in general, I'm referencing those that are part of the Hiking Club and Passport trails. Not everyone is comfortable doing hikes where there aren't established trails. I'm personally on the fence about going off-trail because I'm also solidly in the Leave No Trace camp. I've seen social trails, downed trees or mud cause all kinds of problems with erosion, especially by inexperienced hikers.

My fave is Itaska State Park.  Very nice lake, drained by a tiny brook which I understand goes a long ways....

I have also been on Lake Bemidji.  My brother lives on the shore near the state park.  Minnesota is very nice country indeed.

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I've added a new series of Minnesota State Park reviews following a recent trip to southwestern Minnesota on my blog - - for those who are interested. I'm just eight parks from having visited every one for at least one hike!85EE6A84-349E-4BB7-A307-86B9F194F3AA_1_105_c.jpegGreenleaf Lake State Recreation AreaGreenleaf Lake State Recreation AreaMt. Tom at Sibley State ParkMt. Tom at Sibley State Park

@ruthsbluemarble what an awesome accomplishment - thanks for sharing! Also, love the picture with all the patches!

At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.

@REI-JenK Thanks! I've got two display boxes for all the patches. So far, only two parks I've visited don't have patches (Franz Jevne and Monson Lake). 

I also love the patches. In fact, my kids and I just started the Hiking Club trails a few months ago (we've been to lots of State Parks, just haven't done the Hiking Club) and to make the hiking trips more exciting to them, I got a corkboard and map and hung them on their wall. Every Hiking Club trail we do, we put a patch on the board and a pin in the map. Good to know Franz Jevne and Monson Lake don't have patches. I wonder if they'll get them again. Any idea if the State Recreation Areas, like Minnesota Valley or Red River, have their own patches?



We are doing the MN hiking club and have been to about 56 MN State parks so far! Big Bog was so pretty love the boardwalk onto the bog! Lake Bemidiji had a fantastic boardwalk through the woods im not sure how the bugs would be in the summer but when we went in the fall it was beautiful! Red River State Park in East Grand Forks area was a really cool park it used to be a development before a big flood in the 90s i believe when they converted it to the state park definitely worth checking out! Also southern minnesota has some fantastic parks as well!