Snapshot: Mille Lacs Kathio State Park
Glacier-carved hills, fish-filled lakes, and hardwood-forested trails have drawn people to Mille Lacs Kathio for millennia. With an archaeological record spanning more than 9,000 years, the Mille Lacs uplands abound in history as well as natural resources.
SEASONAL ADVENTURES Traverse the park's 10,554 acres of rolling terrain on ski, snowmobile, or snowshoe. Miles of ski trails and snowmobile trails join at the heated trail center, where you can gather after your adventure with family, friends, and a picnic lunch. There is a nearby sliding hill. On snowshoes, you can reach parts of the park not accessible by summer trails. The interpretive center offers museum displays (free hot cider on weekends). Rent skis and snowshoes at the main office. If you'd like, set up your tent or RV on a plowed campsite. With a reservation, you can spend the night in a heated camper cabin.
NATURE White-tailed deer, porcupines, pine martens, beavers, and otters all make their homes here. Red-breasted nut---hatches, white-breasted nuthatches, red-bellied woodpeckers, evening grosbeaks, and common redpolls feast at more than a dozen bird feeders outside the interpretive center's big picture windows. Drive slowly through the forests of red oak, sugar maple, basswood, aspen, and birch at dawn or dusk to see winter wildlife on the prowl.
SURPRISES On the Saturday before the February full moon, park staff and volunteers line more than 5 miles of trails with luminaria for an evening of moonlight skiing followed by a bonfire. This year's event will be Saturday, Feb. 19.
SPOT THIS The headwaters of the Rum River, which flows 146 miles from Mille Lacs Lake to the Mississippi River.
INSIDER'S FAVORITE "How dramatic and beautifully different each season is here," says park naturalist Jim Cummings. "It's really big and really wild. Even when the park is packed full of people, it doesn't feel crowded."
HISTORY Mille Lacs Kathio was founded in 1957 on the site of numerous American Indian settlements. Dakota Indians lived here centuries before European settlers arrived. Ojibwe settled the area in the 1700s. The interpretive center contains numerous artifacts left by inhabitants over the years. Mille Lacs Indian Museum, just 2 miles north of the park, provides more insights into Ojibwe history and culture.
FUN FACT The Kathio part of the park's name came from poor penmanship, poor eyesight, or a combination. French explorer Daniel Greysolon, Sieur du Lhut, recorded the name of the Indian settlement here as Izatys. A historian later transcribed his scrawl as Kathio.
For more information see MN DNR State Parks - Mille Lacs Kathio or contact the DNR at 1-888-646-6367 or 651-296-6157.