Maplewood State Park has eight sparkling lakes nestled among hardwood-covered hills, making it a favorite place for autumn leaf color hikes and picnics. This rich and varied habitat offers an abundance of natural diversity amid west-central Minnesota farmland.
Seasonal Adventures Autumn in Maplewood is vibrant with color. Take a hike or ride horseback through forests of mature maples, basswoods, aspens, and oaks. Or view the glowing trees from a rental boat or canoe on Beers Lake. On the prairie, enjoy the hues of native grasses and wildflowers. Plan a crisp picnic on the shore of Lake Lida. For a fall weekend, book a stay in one of two cozy camper cabins or camp in one of 71 drive-in sites, 24 horse camps, or three remote sites.
Surprises Like the sound of sizzling fresh-fried trout for breakfast? Bass Lake, near the campground, is stocked with rainbows just waiting to leap into your pan.
Insider's Favorite Park manager Bob Hanson appreciates the mix of woods and open areas, which offer fine views of the park's hills and valleys. "It's a very scenic spot," he says.
Nature Abounds Located at the interface of deciduous forest and prairie, Maplewood harbors 150 bird species (pick up a bird checklist at the park office). Fish its lakes for bass, panfish, northern pike, muskie, crappies, walleye, and rainbow trout. Watch the woods, hillsides, and shores for fox, otters, turkeys, and occasional moose and bears.
History The park's hilly terrain formed when ancient rock-studded glaciers snowplowed gravel ahead of them as they advanced across Minnesota 10,000 years ago. As they melted, the glaciers left behind rocky mounds. Humans have inhabited these glacial hills for some 6,000 years. Maplewood became a state park in 1963.
Back-to-School Special Mix education with adventure when you hike the forest interpretive trail, which includes signs identifying a variety of Minnesota native trees.
Rare Sighting There have been several cougar sightings in the area in recent years, though none was reported last year.
Something New Autumn visitors can picnic in the park's new trail center, which features maps and other park information. The building also serves as a warming house for skiers, snowmobilers, and other winter visitors.
For more information see Maplewood State Park or contact the DNR.