Although frigid temperatures are inevitably waiting to snap the minds of many Minnesotans, fall is a perfect time to get outdoors and enjoy some of the finest camping weather of the year.
And there are few places better to do so than Moose Lake State Park, an easy 2-hour drive from the Twin Cities.
In addition to prime camping within the state park, there are also opportunities to fish, canoe, hike and even hunt for agates. In fact, the state’s gemstones are so plentiful in the region, an Agate and Geological Interpretive Center is attached to the park’s main office.
The state park is located about a mile east of the town Moose Lake, about 115 miles north of Minneapolis. And though the park shares the town’s name, the body of water inside the park’s boundaries is called Echo Lake. Anglers can be spotted hauling in largemouth bass, pike and large panfish on a frequent basis. A fishing pier on the north end of the lake provides easy access for those without a means of locomotion on the water. However, at the park’s main office boat rentals are available, including canoes, kayaks and small-fishing boats.
Moose Lake State Park is 1,239 acres of rolling hills surrounded by fields, woods and water, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. It’s an enchanting area with an air of serenity hovering over it. In the stillness of the night coyotes howl and sing to one another, or at least they do at this time of year. In the morning, ducks and geese communicate as the journey south begins. Despite the presence of man, nature is functioning at a high level inside the state park.
Five miles of easy to moderate hiking trails can be found within the park’s boundaries. The trails provide an excellent opportunity to view autumn leaves as they cling to the branches of aspen, oak, birch and cedar trees. In addition, the Willard Munger Trail is located two miles west of the park. This historic trail stretches for 60 miles, from Hinckley to Duluth.
Of the 35 campsites inside the park, two are walk-in sites, meaning it’s a short hike (approximately 30 yards) from a small-parking lot to the actual camping area. Though all the camping spots at Moose Lake State Park are worthy of a visit, the more secluded sites that require a short trek are all the more peaceful and tucked away. In other words, if you have a chance, reserve a hike-in site.
And while it’s true that summer has come and gone, fall does offer some of the best camping opportunities of the year. The mosquitoes and most other insects have vanished. The air is cool and crisp, making an evening fire not only entertaining, but valuable. Autumn colors decorate the forest. The fish are still biting.
The best camping of the year is waiting.
For more information on Moose Lake State Park or to reserve a campsite, visit http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/state_parks/moose_lake/index.html
Photos by: Maggie Nielsen