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It was a 2.5 mile hike of all sorts of terrain. Scenery was perfect. Not much for available tent sites or hammock sites. It could fill up fast. Has a fire pit and water is super clear. Very quiet and was mosquito free till darkness set in. I would definitely camp here again.
Itasca is a beautiful park. Gorgeous scenery to enjoy. We saw lots of deer within the park. We loved our stay at the Pine Ridge Campground. We were close to drinking water and the very well maintained modern showers/toilets. There are other campsites within the park that are more rustic if that is what you’re looking for. We will definitely be back!
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/
A big park with lots of campsites and plenty of campers. Most of the day visitors congregate in a few areas and, by late afternoon, it's not difficult to find some quiet spaces. While you are camping in the woods, you are always aware that you are sharing the space with many other campers. Your enjoyment will depend upon your patience and tolerance of what your fellow campers feel is "camping".
We love our Boundary Waters Canoe Area to the north of us, and the North shore of Lake Superior to the east, both of which offer some of the best wilderness camping in northern Minnesota. However, they are both a good three hour drive from our home in north central Minnesota. Itasca State Park, between Park Rapids and Bemidji, is our go-to special place when we want to take to the woods for a weekend but only have to drive about a half hour to get there. Most campers at Itasca head for the main campgrounds for standard tent and RV camping…but for a near Wilderness experience, there are 11 remote backpacker campsites which are between 1 and 6 miles trek into the roadless wilderness area of the park south of the parks main loop drive. The Iron Corner Lake remote campsite is one such campsite off on its own in the backcountry, actually by the nexus of the Ozawindib Trail and the North Country National Scenic trail that runs through this part of the park. It is an easy trek in from a small parking area near Josephine Lake, or from a larger parking area at the south entrance of the park. Either trail in goes up and over the Itasca Moraine, so there is some good elevation change along the traild, but not too rugged, and it is really just over a mile that you need to pack in to this campsite. The campsite comes with fire ring and benches, beautiful bed of pine needles for a tent pad, access to a gorgeous crystal clear lake, and a clean three-sided outhouse with a scenic view toward the lake. (No need for a door—its the wilderness! ) You can camp here as a base camp, and then have the chance to hike miles of trails in every direction to dozens of other wilderness lakes in the area. The trails in are both wide, soft, and well maintained so you could easily bring in a kayak ir canoe if you dont mind portaging the distance. Quiet, rustic, pristine, and dark skies at night! Check this page for a description of the MN state park remote campsites with a link to reserve one: https://www.dnr.state.mn.us/state_parks/remote_camping.html and check this link for info on the Itasca State Park overall https://www.dnr.state.mn.us/state_parks/park.html?id=spk00181#homepage
This is a very large park that is super interesting to visit and the campground was a very nice place to spend a few nights while we were in the area. The bathrooms were clean and the campsite was in a nice location right across from the shower house/bathrooms.
Friendly service with accessibility to all the tourist attractions.