My friend and I went camping here from October 19th-21st (which happened to be during an unseasonable cold snap- I'm talking 20 degrees at night with a bit of snow, but that's neither here nor there). The first night we lucked out and though it was cold, there was virtually no wind.
We chose one of the campsites nearest to the parking lot since we had a lot of cold weather gear to lug and my friend was new to camping. Even though it was close to the lot and there weren't really leaves on the trees anymore to offer privacy, the park was quiet and we only heard people when they would walk directly past our campsite.
The proximity to Lake Superior and the view was absolutely gorgeous. We gasped when we got to the site because it was so beautiful! In combination with how quiet it was, it really made for a worthwhile stay.
The tent pad was flat and covered with woodchips. Tent pad was elevated, with a wooden bench built in. The site was cart-in, which made loading in and out a breeze. Going uphill to the parking lot was a bit of a pain, but it was a short enough distance that it was just fine. There was a sizeable metal bear box for food. The vault toilet was a short jaunt up the hill and had plenty of toilet paper in stock.
Because it was off-season, the campground building with flush toilets/showers was closed, and there was no running water for the campground. (During the regular season, water is close by at the parking lot.) There was water available on the side of the Trail Center Picnic Shelter.
I am looking forward to returning to camp here in a bit warmer weather!
I spent many years doing single night stays here for the camp I used to go to (and later work at). Its proximity to Taylors Falls and the St. Croix River is appealing, and it has easy access to water and toilets, but it isn't my favorite place to camp. The interstate is pretty noisy (to be expected from the name), and it personally takes me out of the natural setting.
If you're looking for a more casual camping spot with access to amenities and popular hiking areas, this is a good choice. But if you want seclusion from your neighbors and a bit more quiet, maybe look elsewhere.
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.