Backpack sites, located on remote lakes and ponds throughout the park, are one to two miles from the trailhead parking. New log camper cabins, located near lakes and ponds, provide bunk beds for six people and a table and benches for campers who want more of the creature comforts.
Spots were nice small. Dirt ground and tent pad. Each site had a fire ring and picnic table as well as a food box (we’re assuming) most sites fairly visible from the trail but not all. Bathrooms near by clusters of sites but did not appear to have toilet paper so you gotta bring your own.
I chose Lake Maria for a solo camping excursion because it was close to the Cities, but still offered the level of seclusion I wanted. I am not new to camping, but haven't been in a few years, and never solo.
I chose B6 because, on the MN DNR Reservation website, it said it was a .25 mile hike. Every other campsite was a mile+. Since I was getting back into the groove of camping, I made this choice so I'd have an easier time, especially because I'm no so active anymore working from home during a pandemic!
Well, let me tell you, it was definitely a mile or so hike from the parking lot to B6, despite what the website said. That's why I'm rating 4 stars instead of 5. I was ill-prepared, and I spent most of my time making trips back to the lot to get water and firewood from my car than exploring the park. Part of this is my fault for not having a big enough water jug and things like that, but I genuinely think the website was deceiving. Maybe there's another path or place to park that's quicker that I don't know about? Regardless, listen when people say all the sites are about a mile, because they're right!
Now, onto the positives:
- My site was secluded, but still fairly close to the road and group camp sites. I could hear people at the group camp because they were pretty loud, but if they weren't it would have been very quiet. I didn't run into too many people in general. Even though I could hear cars going down the road and it was a short jaunt to it through the woods, it was not distracting from the scenery.
- It wasn't excessively buggy like some say- I was fine in my short sleeves and leggings with some backwoods bug spray! (It did get worse the day after it rained, but that's to be expected.)
- Lots of mushrooms in the woods! I'm not great at identification, but I am fairly certain I saw some golden chanterelles and other treats. (Don't take my word for it, though!)
- B6 is on a pond, which was gorgeous. A bit steep getting to it, but nice to sit on the edge and look at the many frogs and turtles! (Blanding's turtles, which are endangered!)
- Lots of wildlife sounds you definitely don't get to hear in the city!
- Trails were well-marked and trodden, though not totally level.
- Firewood was available at the office (self-pay).
All in all, I will certainly come back here, but a bit more prepared for the hike to and from the sites. You can't beat the level of solitude you get here considering how close it is to the metro.
This is a fantastic park. No views or anything, just miles of thick forest. A million and one birds. Backpack site 4 is 3/4 of a moderately hilly mile from the parking lot (there is more than one lot at the park). There's a long footpath (like a driveway) off the hiking trail, so it's an extremely private site. The trees form a canopy over the circular site. You can cut through a few feet of grass to the lake/marsh.
It is a low lying site in a park with a lot of water, so be prepared for more bugs than your average MN campsite in the summer (and that's really saying something!). No bugs for our trip this May, but we come here often.
This is one of the best camping state parks I’ve ever been to. One bit of advice if you haven’t been to the backpacking camp sites here. Buy a cart. We made way too many trips back and forth and less time enjoying the amazing state park. The trails are well maintained. The camp site was clean and secluded from other sites.
Appreciated the camper cabin and the clean sites. Most if not all sites are in the woods from what I could tell so there is a lot of leaves. Good trails and a fun experience.
First camping trip of 2020. You can reserve campsites with the online reservation system this year, which was great. This site was a 1/4 hike (we snowshoed) from the parking area. It was down a hill and set on the cliff of a pond. There were not any other sites nearby, it was very private and had its own portable toilet.. I think it would be equally beautiful in the summer. They had hiking, xcountry skiing and snowshoeing. We went snowshoeing around midnight under a full moon and had the place to ourselves.
There are nice hiking trails right out of the campsite and we went exploring. We liked BP1, 2 and 3. Each were set on a lake and BP1 had a mostly unobstructed view of the lake. The only drawback was that BP1 does not have its own toilet and you have to walk a ways, back over to BP2.
We drove to the other parking area to do some more hiking and exploring. The hiking club trail is on this loop. We didn’t like the campsites on the west end as much (BP9-BP12) as they were all too close together and open. The campsites on lakes looked fabulous - BP8, BP14 and I assume BP5 is nice, but a big hike. The camper cabins looked wonderful as well.
I loved all the trails and hiking opportunities. We will definitely visit again.
Every site is a hike in site, including the three camper cabins. The trails are groomed enough that if you have a cart, you can pack your gear in that way too.
My wife and I stayed at camper cabin 1 on this Mon-Wed trip, and it is secluded and beautiful. You have to take a little bridge to get to it even.
There was a major storm that came through Sun-Mon, and this being a wetlands, things got muddy and buggy quick. The area around the cabin itself was good though as a breeze coming off the lake kept the bugs at bay.
The cabin itself is very cozy. Two bunks with queen on the bottom and twin on the top to sleep six total. A couple of good spots outside you can hang hammocks from too. Bring lighting as the cabin solar light only gives you a couple hours (assuming it could even charge up that day and it didn’t our first day) and it’s so wooded it gets dark very quickly. Everything is sealed up nice and tight too, so no bugs in the cabin unless you tear the screens or leave the door open.
All the necessary items to clean up the cabin were provided, broom, dustpan, spray bottle, cloth, bucket, so that made cleaning up easy.
I rated 4 stars based on three factors.
Park office is only open Friday through Sunday. Makes sense seeing as that if it’s not that busy of a place during this week of July 4th, I can’t imagine other weeks getting busier.
Rain can get things boggy quick, possibly closing the trail to your site even.
State website says fire wood is provided, and two cords were at the cabin when we got there, but nothing said we had to pay for the wood. It’s fine, but I’ll have to run into town as I didn’t bring cash with me to leave in the envelope at the office, since the office is closed during the week, which also means if I needed more than these two cords, I have to run to town… As of this review, cords were $6 at the park and $5.50 at the truck stop up by I-94.
Otherwise the place is great and I can imagine coming back again with friends and trying out the hike in tent sites too.
TLDR version: Great place, quiet on these weekdays during a holiday week, bring firewood, use a cart if you have one to bring things to your site.
We arrived hours before the office was supposed to close, but the firewood was locked up. After a long hike we got setup in the dark, nearly getting lost on the poorly marked trail. Went back to get some safe move certified firewood. (No good way to transport more than a few bundles on that terrain. Recommend fake logs for longer burning and easy transport.) By the time we got back and setup with a fire and food, we were exhausted. During the day though, it was pretty and tranquil. Didn't hear much from the neighboring sites. If we knew what to expect, it would've been a better start to the trip. We would possibly go again.
For being so close to the twin cities, this park boasts some really great camp sites.
Ive camped here several times and enjoyed all the sites I’ve had. 1-4 are pretty objectively the best ones but there’s no bad sites IMO
If you’re lucky you’ll see a Blandings Turtle, wow! State turtle of MN dontchaknow
Lots of other great stuff to see too. Lots of bugs but like, deal with it, you’re in the wetlands of the big woods
This is one of my favorite parks to spend a night in when I don’t have time for an extended trip farther from home, living in Maple Grove this is only a 40 minute drive but you feel like you have really gotten away! I’ve found it’s also easier to snag a campsite at the last minute unlike most of the other parks around this area of the state, and especially during the week when you will likely have the park to yourself.
The hikes to the campsites are easy, wide trails without much up and down and most are about a mile hike in. The spots that I have stayed at have good places to set up a hammock, and all sites have a fire ring, picnic table and food locker.
Walking in on the trails can be a little buggy in late summer but clears up around the campsite, just make sure to bring some bug spray. The variety of birds in the park are fun to observe, the owls were hooting loudly all through the evening and there were a few woodpeckers hanging around our site. These sites in specific also had an outhouse really close, just remember to bring your own toilet paper. Sites 1 and 3 are on a little lake, but the water is more swampy so don’t plan on swimming and it’s probably not ideal for cooking or being purified for drinking water. There is a water pump in the parking lot where you can restock. You also shouldn’t have any trouble finding downed wood for fire around either of these sites. It’s secluded and you don’t see any other campers here but easy enough to get to! The view of the water from site 1 is beautiful and the sunset over the lake in October with the fall colors is a must see.