The Remote campsites at DeSoto Lake provide a Boundary Waters type experience without being far from the towns of Bemidji snd Park Rapids. These campsites have the double distinction of being both on the National North Country Scenic Trail, as well as being in the backcountry region of Itasca State Park. Local NCT members help maintain the trail and campsites, but as the campsites are with the State Park Boundaries, the sites must be reserved through the MN State Park reservations website, with request for Itasca Backpacking sites # 3 or 4. These sites are accessible to NCT through hikers, but access within the park is either through backpacking in in the Nicollet Trail or DeSoto Lake Trail (each a several hour hike in from the Parks Wilderness Drive), or from the Gartner Farm trailhead of the NCT to the west, or the Itasca South entrance parking lot. For those who prefer paddling, the Desoto Portage is about a 15 minute portage from the 113 parking lot to the south shore of DeSoto Lake, then a paddle acroos the lake to the campsite landings.
Both campsites are on a bluff on the northeast side of the lake, with a landing and set of stairs up to the sites. The west site has log benches, fire ring, and room for several tents, and the east site also has a picnic table. Both have access to a pit toilet of the modern type with three walls and a roof, but no door as it is off in the woods facing away from the camping sites and overlooking another nearby lake. From these camp sites you can portage into several nearby lakes that are even more remote and pristine, or you can hike miles in any direction either on the NCT, or in several state park trails that intersect nearby. DeSoto lake itself is full of many islands and small bays where there is abundant wildlife including wild swans nesting. A calm, serene, and beautiful retreat if you dont mind backpacking in at least three miles or portaging a canoe or kayak about a mile. You need to bring your own water, or a water filter as there is no potable water.
Info about remote MN state park camping and link to reservations: https://www.dnr.state.mn.us/state_parks/remote_camping.html
Info on Itasca State Park: https://www.dnr.state.mn.us/state_parks/park.html?id=spk00181#homepage
Info on the North Country Scenic Trail, part if the National Park Service’s national trail system: https://www.nps.gov/noco/index.htm
Info on the Laurentian Lakes chapter of the NCT, which maintains the trail to the DeSoto campsites https://northcountrytrail.org/trail/minnesota/llc/