Backcountry Camp at Glacial Lakes SP

    Rate this Adventure 4 miles 200 ft gain  - Out-and-Back Trail

    Added by Joe Whitson

    Hike through some of Minnesota's last native prairie land and explore the kettles and kanes of this glacially formed environment. Glacial Lakes State Park is a great, low risk introduction to backpacking trips for first time backpackers.

    Glacial Lakes State Park is located on the easternmost border of the once immense prairie that covered much of the Great Plains. This prairie oasis gives visitors a taste of what traveling across the that treeless wilderness would have been like for American Indians and pioneers two hundred years ago.

    Although the park offers drive-in campsites, the best way to see the park is to hike the three or four miles into one of the backpack sites. Not only will you get a chance to see more of the park, the backpacking sites off solitude, space, and a much more immersive experience. If you haven't backpacked before, don't be intimidated! Although it feels like wilderness, you are only a few miles from other people, so this is a good place to learn and make mistakes.

    Although this trip can be done anytime of year, fall and spring are the best times to go. The park has virtually no shade and the summers can get very hot, while winter camping in Minnesota can offer its own set of complications.

    Begin your hike at the horse camp parking lot where you can leave your car for the duration of your stay. There are several sites scattered throughout the park, the trails crisscross each other, and the signs aren't always easy to decipher, so keep a trail map with you. I would recommend staying at the Kettle Lake site since it's the most remote and on water - always a plus.

    This is a great park for a weekend trip. Arrive Friday after work, trek straight to your site and set up, and enjoy stargazing, a fire, and maybe a quick swim before going to bed. Then you can spend Saturday leisurely exploring the park's trails and relaxing before heading home Sunday morning.

    Make sure to stop in Darwin, MN on the way back to check out the World's Largest Ball of Twine - a roadside wonder that should be on everyone's bucket list.

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    Camping
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    Bathrooms
    Easy Parking
    Lake
    Scenic
    Wildflowers
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    Swimming Hole

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