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I've been camping here since I was a little kid. My family used to host large family camping trips here. Lots of close camp sites for larger groups near the entrance. The further back you go on the road, the more spread out sites get. There are a few walk-in sites that I absolutely love. Show up early on weekends if you want one of the better spots. Pluses: The trails are a lot of fun.. lots to see. The outhouses are kept up well and pump water road side. Minuses: People leave their camps a mess a lot of the time. I usually spend the first hour cleaning up. TONS of poison ivy. Sand fleas.
I still get up once a year, early summer.
I've camped here twice, now. Once roadside during hunting season with oranges on and once in December. So far, I enjoy it. Where to start… The roads aren't really kept up for the winter. So, you'll want 4 wheel drive and slow and mindful driving. I walked in for ten minutes from one of the parking spots. I just cleared the snow, built a heat retaining wall, and set up camp in front of it. I did hear wolves for the first time. They were howling after sunset. A little creepy, camping alone. But, i don't suspect they'd come too close.
If you want secluded, minimal camping. This is an okay spot, close to the twin cities.
We loved this campground and this area!
We have site 1 which was right on the lake. We were able to park the camper parallel to the lake which was amazing. Such a beautiful view!
The owners and staff were great. They have a small market and a game room. The resort was clean and well maintained. There is a beach. You can also rent water toys, boats and pontoons. You can also bring your own boat and rent dock space. There are several docks you can fish from if you want.
So much to do in the area and this resort is right in the middle of it all.
I’ll say, one of the best parts of this park is all the interpretative kiosks. Love learning about the forestry and history of state parks! Also many options for trails which is great. A lot of wildlife here, I heard a ton of coyotes and geese, a woodpecker, and a beaver under the bridge in the evening chomping away at peeling logs… totally scared me at first but he was just doing his job and I tried not to bother him!
I stayed at the backpacking site: SPRING. It’s just a short hike (bout 400 meters) from the river access where there is a vaulted toilet snd water year-round. The site had a bench overlooking the river and a rugged stair for water access. Also had a little personal rustic toilet just a trail behind the site. Nice and wooded campsite, soft dirt, and fairly spacious! In wet months, I bet it's pretty muddy. The only drawback is that the trail it’s situated on is the hiking club trail and heavily trafficked. I stayed in winter, where you could see through the trees and all that tho. Maybe in summer, it’s more secluded? But still, something to keep in mind.
Took a peek at the campground- some of the most spaced out and wooded sites I’ve seen yet. I like that they made it in separated loops, to avoid through traffic distracting your stay. Love the visitors center, great overlook, and interesting information. By the trail center, which is also very cozy and rents, skis and snowshoes and has a great inside fireplace, there is an interpretative walk about white pines- great for kids to imagine those huge trees! They do a great job aiding the imagination as you walk along the short trail.
Camper cabins here are up on a bluff- didn’t stay there but totes want to! Nicely situated.
Everything that I checked out here was very well managed and they clearly put a lot of time and care into making this park functional, interesting, and accessible. I loved my little backpack site but can’t wait to come back to camp in the summer or rent a cabin! The river is gorgeous, even as it was frozen in winter!
We arrived at 2pm on a mid-October Friday afternoon and were shocked to find just two open spots. Our spot was along the side road that cuts through the campground so not on the main loop which I think led to there being fewer cars. Overall, there weren't too many spots that I thought looked amazing, but none of them looked bad either. It felt a little rundown, even by state forest standards, but for us that was fine. The road into the park and within the campground is awful, so especially if you're in an RV or towing a trailer, be prepared to move very slowly. But we had a nice two days, went to the lake/beach area which was maybe a 15-30 minute hike away, and also hiked on the other trails a bit. We have a 3 and 1 year old, so didn't make it far :) I don't know that I feel a need to return to this place, but I was happy with our experience.
Sadly I needed 4 hours of internet and my cellular data here was spotty. I spent this time right outside the office.
There is a mini golf course, and an outdoor pool (closed for the fall).
A bit close to the highway but quick access to city amenities.
Okay so this state park is beautiful. The trails are wonderful. The campsites and campground are great. Except… I camped here in a 2006 Toyota Tacoma and mice essentially had their way with every part of my vehicle in one night!!! I have a topper and a built-out bed in the back. It was chilly and I had the truck shut—the cab as well as the tailgate and all windows. Still, when I woke the next morning (and for days and days afterward) I found mouse poop EVERYWHERE. They got into plastic bins, duffel bags, backpacks, stuff sacks, etc. Their nasty little feces were found in food, on towels, in the cab, in the bed, in ONE OF MY HIKING BOOTS!!!! Disgusting. Now, my friend who has a 2019 Tacoma said he heard them scampering around in the wheel wells of his truck and crawling all over trying to find a way in, but they did not succeed. I guess because my truck is older and has more tiny spaces they can crawl through, it got the treatment. Anyway, just beware because they knew I was coming and their diseases-infested poops I am still finding weeks later!!!!
This was my first time camping EVER, and I wanted a balance of car camping ease with quiet wilderness. I stayed in the E loop. No electric sites, which cut down the number of big rig RVs, but there were plenty of small campers and trailers. To me, this means louder guests than tent campers. That said, people tended to quiet down by 9-10p. There was occasional noise during the day from crop dusters and motorized boat traffic on the St. Croix.
Site 87 had nice privacy — less between sites 87 and 89 and much more between 87 and 85 (see photos). Site 89 is a double site, so be prepared for a little more activity if someone books there. If I went again, I'd try to snag site 85. Large trees and vegetation between sites, especially on the outside loop. Plenty of space for hammocks. The site itself was level and very spacious. We had a five person tent and could have put up a bug house easily. The fire pit was clean and had a grate on top. Pit toilets were clean and had plenty of toilet paper, especially for the end of a holiday weekend. Bugs were minimal, but could have been because the weather was on the cooler side (50s-60s).
A couple random notes:
Firewood is $6/bundle. Self-pay available if the ranger station is closed. Bring exact change since you'll be paying by envelope.
The ranger station was open for window service, and they sold fire starters, soda, t-shirts, etc. Not sure when hours are exactly. They were open when I went around 3-4p Sunday and Monday to buy wood.
Cell reception for T-Mobile was minimal to non-existent.
This is a review for the walk-in, canoe-in campsite #C1. It is actually located in a secluded part of the park, more than a mile from the main campground. It is meant to be a campsite for park campers who want a more private location than the regular campground and dont mind backpacking or carting their gear in, or for paddlers from the Mississippi River who access it as a Water Trail stop by paddling to it up Pike Creek. The park itself is located near the town of Little Falls, MN and there is easy access from Hwy 10, or from the River. In all honesty, I have driven past Little Falls many times en route to Minneapolis or elsewhere but never stopped; I never realized what a small hidden jewel this park is, and within it what a terrific camping opportunity exists here for secluded walk-in or paddle-in campers.
The campsite itself is gorgeous, a beautiful setting on the sandy banks of Pike Creek. My friend and I packed in our gear on the short hiking trail to get here, but I do have a friend who paddled in here not long ago and recommended it highly. Pike Creek is a clear, beautiful stream that is peaceful to camp on, and there are several hikes you can make from the site. There is a heavy duty fire ring with sturdy grill, tenting spots for several tents, picnic table, steps down to the water, swimming access nearby, and rack to store your canoe or kayak if you have one. You do need to hike about 2/10 of a mile to get to bathrooms and water source; you have to hike about a mile to the main campground if you want showers. But if you don't mind the trek for any of those, this is one sweet campsite!
While we were here, we hiked the trail along Pike Creek which was scenic, including rapids; there are many wooded trails, and a longer trail to hike into the location where Charles Lindbergh landed the "Jenny" in 1927 on what was then an open field on the family homestead. We also hiked to the Missisippi River, which is a nice trail in and of itself, but also leads to two history museums and a Living History Site, one operated by the county historicall society (http://morrisoncountyhistory.org/) , the others by the Minnesota State Historical Society ( https://www.littlefallsmn.com/things-to-do/charles-lindbergh-house-and-museum ) . The land encompassed by the park is hisotric for 2 reasons: Zebulon Pike spent the winter here with a search party who were going up river to search for the source of the Mississippi River, and probably camped right at the very campsite here on the sores of Pike Creek; and a century later it was the homestead of the Lindbergh family and where aviator Charles grew up. So, camping here is a pleasure if you are interested in history as well as nature, off the beaten path.
In addition, you can bike a bike trail to Little Falls which then connects you to maze of local trails, https://www.littlefallsmn.com/things-to-do/bike-and-hike , or while at the park you can paddle the river (rent gear locally if you didnt bring your own: http://www.shirleymaesoutfitters.com/ )
You can also drive bout 5 miles to a terrific National Wildlife Refuge at Crane Meadows, we hiked there and really enjoyed bird watching and the rare oak savannah and tall grass prairie.
This campsite is really a hidden jewel. The only reason I didnt give it 5 stars was because there is a train line that runs along the Mississippi River a few miles from the campsite, and the sound of train whistles in the evening really carries. Otherwise it is very secluded and beautiful, and a great choice if wanting to explore the area. if you are a birder, the tremendous variety of birds (kingfishers, various woodpeckers, warblers, waterfowl, and more) is great, though be forewarned that a screech owl hangs out near this campsite, and it was a bit unnerving the first time we heard it!
The site we had was isolated nicely and the ground was easy for a tent set up. There was some mosquitos, but the disappeared at night which was nice. The trail near by was nice, but driving into the park and finding a trail were better. The fire tower was also cool!