A scenic contrast with the surrounding farmland, Glacial Lakes State Park's high ridges, sheltered valleys, spring-fed lake, and rich forests make it a great place to visit any time of the year. "The hills here, they seem to spring up out of nowhere," says manager Matt Feigum.
Seasonal Adventures Spring-fed Mountain Lake, one of the clearest in the state, is a favorite for ice fishing in winter and swimming in summer. Spring, summer, and fall attract backpackers, campers, horseback riders, and picnickers. A few lucky hunters have a chance to get their deer here during a special hunt in November. Snowmobilers get plenty of ups and downs on the park's 11 miles of groomed trails, which connect with hundreds more outside the park. Snowshoers and skiers who like to break trail (the park does not groom trails) will enjoy the challenge of the rolling terrain, as well as the beauty of vast open spaces interspersed with sheltered stands of hardwoods.
Fun Fact Native prairie seed collected from Glacial Lakes is used to revegetate other Minnesota state parks.
Spot This Pasqueflowers, among Minnesota's earliest flowers, bloom here in April.
Something New The park will add several camper cabins, including one donated by Friends of Glacial Lakes State Park, during the next few years. With heat and electricity, the cabins will be especially appreciated by hunters and winter visitors.
Surprises A number of rare or unusual species, such as the Dakota skipper butterfly and western hognose snake, live here.
Insider's Favorite Park manager Matt Feigum relishes the vista about a mile back on the Oakridge Trail. "You can see the surrounding hills. You can see the three lakes we have in the park," he says. "Most of the time, you can see or hear the coyotes and the deer."
History Some 10,000 years ago, glaciers shaped this landscape. Burned bones and flint chips found along the lakeshore suggest that American Indians once used the site. Because cattle grazed here, this land escaped the plows that dramatically altered much of the surrounding area, so much of its native prairie remains intact. The state park was designated in 1963.
Nature The park offers a spectrum of rich habitats, from native prairie to oak forests, from pristine lakes to teeming marshes. See glacial landforms, including kames, moraines, eskers, and boulders carried all the way from Canada. In spring and summer, view abundant wildflowers such as yellow and showy lady's-slippers and coneflowers. Walleyes, northern pike, crappies, and sunfish can all be found in 56-acre Mountain Lake. White-tailed deer, beavers, pileated woodpeckers, and a variety of songbirds call this place home.
For more information see http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/state_parks/glacial_lakes.