HollyRose M.

Pro

Brainerd, MN

Joined October 2020

Just momin’ it up in central MN! I love a good rugged camp! Currently working on learning cold weather camping and improving my backpacking cook skills. Wanting to fill my winter with camping and being outdoors instead of re-watching the Vampire Diaries 𝑎𝑔𝑎𝑖𝑛 in front of the fire place. Even tho, that will certainly happen at least once 🍻🏕✔️ Camping with my kids is absolutely my fav thing of all time! Hoping to improve their skills and continue to spark their passion for the outdoors ⚡️🌎🌈

So clear & Clean and such views!

We LOVE Split Rock State Park, and try to go at least one a year. This spring we backpacked in a bit to the first backpack site, BP1, just about a mile in from the parking lot. 

The cart in sites are definitely amazing, but the backpack ones are the best! This one is on an overlook with pretty much your own private lagoon right next to the site. Stats for this site: 

- mostly shaded at the site

- wood chips for the tent area

- bear box

-picnic table

- rustic latrine (bring own TP)

- fire pit.

There are trails down to the private beach area and to the public one to the north. You could totally access this via kayak or canoe.

Take the hike back to the main parking lot/camp entrance for use of nice showers and bathrooms. Also a little public bay with great views of an island and the lighthouse. Also has a great public use building with an outside sheltered fire pit and electricity. We hung out a bit there to charge phones and use the tables.

All sites are quite private, even more than most state parks. Various access points to Lake Superior throughout the campground, and the park is close to Two Harbors for supplies, etc.

One of my favorite parks, up on the cliff with amazing views and great trails that wind you through the woods to high bluffs and lookouts. Just awesome.

Watercraft Site on the Mississippi - Spacious & Maintained!

This hidden gem is on the Mississippi water trail around mile 996. It is called "Overlook Park" and owned/maintained by the city of Baxter, but is part of the DNR's state water trail. There is even signage for those on the river to inform them about their whereabouts on the trail when they pass this park. 

So although this is a little private city park, there is a specific spot RIGHT on the river with a picnic table, fire ring, and nice high ground soft space for a tent. But really you could tent it anywhere in the park, but this space is set aside a bit from the rest, as it is a city park although very little traffic. There is garbage and a vaulted toilet. There are three picnic tables throughout including the tent site, and two fire rings. There is a nice canoe landing area with a few stairs to help give access up and down from the river bank. Very pretty spot on the river! The opposite land bordering this city park is part of Crow Wing State Park, so even though it's close to town, it does feel fairly remote. 

Such a well maintained park! Pretty views and some rugged trails along the river for some hiking as well.

Lots to Explore/Learn

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!

Wildlife and Views! Remote Site

This is a site on Pine River Water Trail - it's tucked just above Rat Lake, and only accessible by boat/waterfcraft. Its up on a little hill, and has  great view of the river. 

- There is a fire ring with grate 

- Picnic table available 

- A rustic latrine is just off behind the site

- No tent pad, but a couple cleared grassy soft spots great for a tent

- Plenty of deadfall for a small fire, but no actual firewood. I have been to this site a few times, and once there was a few stacked logs probs from a fallen tree that the DNR stacked up to be nice ;-) 

This site is about an hour and a half - two hours downstream from the Pine River Damn access. It's about an hour to the next access, on why 15. We did have cell phone service out there, but definitely remote!

We saw so much wildlife on this kayak trip, and enjoyed a great swim in the river. It's never super deep or too strong a current, and in front of this site it's sandy and great swimming!

Since it's up on the hill, the view is really great. Note: Make sure to pull your watercraft ALL the way up the hill or secure it tightly! One of our Kayaks slide back down the hill into the river, got caught in a branch so we were lucky!

Feels Like Wilderness

Stayed at a camper cabin- had the park to ourselves! Absolutely gorgeous. The drive off the main highway is a few miles, so you really end up out in the wilderness! We also appreciated that this park doesn’t allow hunting so you know you are safe during that season. 

The campground is along a series of winding lakes, with multiple access points to the water. Very spaced out and easy access to vaulted toilets and water. A couple of different fishing piers and docks right near the campground itself. Has electric and non-electric sites. Definitely impressed with the campground itself. Very pretty no matter where you camp. 

Park has:

- fishing pier

- hiking trails

- fish cleaning building

- stocked backcountry fishing lakes

- canoe rental

- a trail center with a community fire ring and comfy chairs

- dump station

- RV sanitation station

- camper cabins

- group camp

- swimming beach

- trailer access

- watercraft and backpack sites 

We enjoyed night walks and star gazing- we decided it was the best stars we had ever seen! Even saw shooting stars. Cooked some great meals, and enjoyed the hiking club walk through the woods to some super-secret small lakes. 

Checked out the group site- so cool. Right on the water with a personal dock and toilets.

This park is truly in the wilderness, felt like actually being in the Boundary Waters! Crystal clear water, thick gorgeous forests, and an amazing sky. 

Head into Ely, maybe 20 mins, if you need supplies or a break from the woods. Also can access the BWCAW there too. 

We appreciated that this park is open year-round, but can’t wait to go back in the summer!

Sunset Hike

Tent camp here once and a while, but finally got around to officially doing the hiking club trail. Love doing a sunset hike, this trail is just over two miles, all along the river, with pretty much continual sunset views if you take the trail East to West. It's a loop, which is always preferred I think. Nice picnic area by the river. Historic signs describing the old town are along the beginning part of the trail near the picnic area. Kinda fun to read about and feel what old settlements were like! 

Easy and pretty trail, took just half an hour, went with the kids. Just an awesome sunset walk and a bit of moonlight!

Interesting Hike, Views

We visited on a surprise warm day in November - wanted to get in a good hike! This park boasts a waterfall, so that sold me.

Park is close to Sandstone for any last minute needs.

  • Campground is off and a bit sequestered from the rest of the hiking and kayaking, which is nice. We didn’t drive through out of respect since we were day trippers- BUT I like that they set it “aside” to keep it private. There are trails from the campground itself that connects up with the other trails and the waterfall hike.

  • Picnic area pretty great, with little fire ring and picnic table areas separated decently.

  • Hike along the Quarry Loop Trail (the hiking club trail) for some interesting facts about the old quarry and stone workers. The ruins are worth an explore for sure! We went a little off trail and went down from the hells gate trail to the portage trail along the river that connects to Lower Hells Gate Trail and the waterfall. Def not for little kids, but a fun rugged experience! Need good shoes and not to be done if wet - could be slippery and dangerous. BUT - you can just take the High Bluff trail above it and be fine!

  • This park is definitely busy, my guess is in season that the kayakers are aplenty! Nice bathrooms at the parking and picnic are.

Great hiking, busy park, plenty of amenities, ski trails, known for kayaking, rapids, and a waterfall. Campground set aside from the busy area of the park.

Well Managed

Woah love this park! Has so many things to do.

  • Went on the hiking club trail around Annie Battle Lake, most of it is even paved for biking or groomed for skiing.

  • The yurt and watercraft sites are secluded and so awesome with great views, right on the lake, firewood and water back there available specifically for that area… so cool.

  • The cart in sites and camper cabins are in a little old growth forest area right on the lake up in a little hill area. Spaced out quite well, all have views of lake (even though on a hill so for swimming/boating access you gotta go to appropriate spots). What a site for camping!

  • Very clear and calm lakes, sandy, and the little creeks/rivers betwixt them are just begging to be canoed or kayaked.

  • Great swimming areas and picnic tables and fire pits everywhere. Vast views and also pretty wooded areas.

  • Shower and rest rooms very modern by the trail center.

All in all so cool that they kept it so rustic has a cool history! Big views and wooded views which I love. Various walks, streams and lakes. Campground is the real deal and good for anyone who wants a wilderness experience without actually backpacking! Great for kids, for sure!

Breathtaking

Ok- I just did a quick little hang here for an hour during a snowstorm - one of the most gorgeous things I have ever seen.

Large picnic area, with grills, vaulted toilet close by, a cute little secluded picnic area with fire ring off to the side, and a paved trail to the rec area.

Great day use area on a gorgeous lake.

River Life for the Win

I live close so I visit frequently to use the trails for running.

This park boasts an amphitheater, trails along the river, a group center, an historic site, decent bathroom facility, and spacious camp sites.

The electric site area isn’t super awesome, as it gets crowded and is more like a huge group camp. But the rest are way more private.

One thing missing is tent pad areas- still grassy and flat enough to truly be NBD, BUT, always nice to have a designated surface.

Great access for canoeing and kayaking the Mississippi water trail. If you start at Kiwanis Park in Brainerd- you can make it to crow wing in four hours leisurely, or three fairly easily.

Nice trails, good parking, good shower facilities, and pretty trails.

Remote and Absolutely Gorgeous

This state park is in my top favs. It’s quiet and remote and there’s a lot to explore. We stayed at a remote watercraft site, accessible only by water so that was thrilling!

The landscape here is fun, with the huge peninsula jutting out into the lake, makes for fun canoeing/kayaking with many little areas to explore, and a couple little islands!

The site itself had a rustic log shelter built in it overlooking the lake, very cool.

The Chase Point peninsula is a great hike and has a little boat landing area at the tip of it to so you can start from either end.

Scooped out Chase Point campground though we didn’t stay in it - sites spaced well, quite wooded. Water and toilets spaced out well too, very accessible from anywhere in the park.

Very cool feature is the little boardwalk with docks along Coon lake and campground edge - makes for easy access to park your kayak or canoe and just a fun little morning walk or place to view sunset over the lake. So charming!

Scenic is definitely the word to describe this park!

Quiet, Simple, Peacfull

This is a great little gem on the Canadian border. Minnesota’s smallest state park- but it’s very gorgeous and feels kinda awesome looking out at Canada!

A very cool feature at most sites, is that they have a rustic log overhanging/shelter of sorts. Doesn’t have sides, but some campers strung a tarp on one side to get some actual shelter.

Clean vaulted toilets, running water, garbages throughout the camp and an electric post at the boat launch (doesn’t really seem like it’s an actual camp site, I saw multiple cars pulling up to it to utilize the power, and it’s right in the middle of the boat launch).

Tent pads dry, big, and soft ground. Sites spread out decently, plenty of buffer between most of them. Feels pretty rugged and backwoodsy.

Saw quite a few eagles, the clearest stars ever, and enjoyed a peaceful hike along the river and then through the woods. My site was #4, a walk in site, and for sure the best one in the park! Just about 50 meters from the parking spot, up a little trail to the top of a small hill with great view and bench overlooking the rapids.

Clearly a place for fisher people. The camp boasts Lake Sturgeon fishing and in the evening, I saw multiple boats at the rapids, so something must have been biting!

Ralph, the park caretaker was absolutely amazing, and helped me out with some car trouble. That was a godsend! Nice to know that even in the middle of nowhere, you still got some backup if needed.

Just a fun little kinda secret spot, very basic but still with the necessities and with a backwoods feel, which I definitely appreciate!