Please take a few minutes to read and familiarize yourself with state forest rules. A partial summary list is linked below.
State forest lands are generally open for hunting and other types of
outdoor recreation. Hunting on private land within a state forest is subject
to state trespass laws.
DNR Forestry asks all overnight campers to help protect state forests by only using designated campsites. Designated campsites have fire rings to contain flames and litter containers that prompt campers to dispose of garbage properly. However, dispersed camping is allowed in state forests. Please practice the "leave no trace" camping ethic if you camp outside of designated areas. Overnight camping is not allowed at developed day-use areas.
Special rules apply in developed forest campgrounds. See the complete text of the rules and observe signs posted in campgrounds.
- Camping fees are charged in campgrounds with developed facilities (drinking water, garbage containers, toilets). No fees are charged for other recreational uses of state forests. Learn more camping in state forests.
- No permit is required for recreational campfires less than 3 feet in diameter in an area cleared of combustible materials for 5 feet around the fire.
- Protect our state forests- don't move firewood.
- You may gather wood that is dead and lying on the ground for onsite campfire use.
- Designated day-use areas are open for picnicking, swimming, and boating where applicable. Alcohol consumption is not allowed in these areas. They are open from 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.
- Personal property may not be left or positioned so as to obstruct use of a road or trail. Personal property left unattended for 14 days shall be deemed abandoned.
Hunting, trapping, and fishing in state forests is allowed during the appropriate season and with the correct license. State game refuges within state forests are closed to hunting unless listed as open. State forests do contain private holdings within their boundaries, many of which are signed "no hunting." Hunting on private land within a state forest is subject to state trespass laws. Maps are available to aid in the identification of these areas and help you to plan your hunt around them.
- Firearms may be discharged in compliance with the law on forest lands not posted closed to firearms discharge.
- Shooting ranges, where designated, have special rules. Observe onsite postings.
- Firearms must be unloaded and cased bows must be unstrung and cased while in or within 200 feet of a forest recreation area (campground, day-use area, parking area, etc.). Exception: During seasons open for hunting, a person may carry an unloaded, uncased firearm or strung bow from a forest recreation area to hunt outside of the area. More about hunting in state forests
- Temporary tree stands are allowed in state forests, including portable and constructed stands, but marketable trees greater than 4 inches in diameter at 4 feet off the ground cannot be cut to construct an elevated hunting scaffold. However, shrubs, lateral tree branches, and saplings smaller than 4 inches in diameter at 4 feet off the ground may be removed if used for scaffold construction. Cutting shooting lanes is not allowed.
- Construction of permanent shelters is prohibited in state forests. This applies to permanent enclosed deer stands and structures associated with their use such as toilets and camp shelters.
- Deer stands on state forest lands are considered available for public use and must remain accessible to all. More about hunting in state forests
- State forest land is generally open to all nonmotorized activities, but may be limited by postings. Organized, large-scale nonmotorized events may require a special-event permit. Contact the local area forest supervisor for details.
- In the Richard J. Dorer Memorial Hardwood Forest, horses and bicycles may travel only on designated trails.
- Most nonmotorized activities can be conducted free of charge on state forest land. However, some nonmotorized activities such as cross-country skiing and horseback riding on designated trails require a ski pass or horse pass.
Trees may not be cut without a permit. Trees may not be cut for Christmas trees and no plant may be dug up and removed. In some areas, certain trees may be cut for fuelwood, but you must obtain a permit from the local DNR Forestry office if you want to take wood out of state land boundaries. Similarly, you must obtain a special-use permit from the local DNR Forestry office to harvest boughs for holiday decorations. You may pick up pine cones from the ground to take home.
Picking fruit and mushrooms
Gathering fruits and mushrooms is allowed.
Dead wood may be gathered for campfires in a state forest. Cutting fuelwood for home use requires a permit from the local DNR Forestry office.
Protect Our State Forests – Don't Move Firewood!
Moving firewood from one location to another may also move harmful pests. Only approved firewood may be brought into state parks, state forests, and other DNR facilities. Check out the approved vendor listing to determine where you can get approved firewood close to where you will be recreating.
This is only a summary of permitted and regulated activities. A complete copy of the rules is available; See Minnesota Rules Chapter 6100.0100 to 6100.1950 for details.