We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

“Not worth the $5...”

Lake Maria State Park
More attraction details
Attraction details
Owner description: Home to the Blandings turtle, a threatened species, the rolling terrain of this scenic park is perfect for hikers, backpackers, horseback riders and cross-country skiers.
Reviewed October 7, 2013

My husband and I have been to most of the major parks all over the state, so we were looking for somewhere new to visit. Lo-and-behold, we found an add for Maria State Park, which is only about an hour from our place advertising nice hiking trails, beautiful scenery, etc. Too good to be true so close to home, right? Definitely.

First thing you'll want to know if you go to this park: Don't you dare try to self-register. When you drive in to the main station there are two advertised options: (a) self register (there's a HUGE sign advertising self registration with a drop box to place your $5 check/cash), or (b) go inside the crowded office and pay the lady behind the desk. Since we go to state parks to enjoy nature and "get away" from the business of our lives, and not to chit-chat, we usually opt for self registration whenever possible. OH NO. Big mistake. As I was filling out the self-registration pamphlet, the lady working in the office came outside and nearly bit my head off...why would I fill out the self-registration when she was clearly open for business? I'm just like all the others who try to "get away" with not following the rules, etc, etc. Really? If you don't want folks to self register when the office is open, then maybe (a) take down the huge self registration sign, (b) add a sign that indicates when folks are NOT allowed to self register, or (c) add a sign that says you're open. My gosh. After hearing a piece of her mind, we nearly left right then....we came to enjoy nature, not to feel the wrath of some overly cranky park lady who has to take out her life's frustrations on poor visitors.

In the end, we decided to not let her ruin our day. We parked and got out to go on a nice hike.

A word to the wise: The park advertises that it has trails for hiking and horseback riding and 4-wheelers. It doesn't clarify that these are NOT separate trails....they are all the same. We started off on what was about a 3 mils hike. However, due to all the massive piles of horse poop every few feet that we had to constantly navigate around, this was likely closer to a 4 mile hike. Looking back, I'm not sure why we took the trouble of walking around it....since there is so much of it and it never appears to be cleaned up, its likely that what we thought were dirt paths are actually paths MADE of decomposed horse poop.

We walked in the direction of what was advertised as a scenic overlook. After walking about a mile, you will come to the base of the overlook, climb a decently steep hill, and get to the top for a breathtaking view......of County Road 111 directly below and a factory steam stack just to the east. Both my husband and I said "really?" at the same time. The couple who had walked up just before was equally confused. None of us decided to sit on the benches at the top to enjoy the "view".

paths are clear, but where they go to is not. there are signs at MAYBE half of the path intersections. We came to one point where 5 paths met....no signs....we literally just had to pick a direction (wrong of course) walk until we found the next sign, take a picture of that map, walk back and then follow the correct path.

I could go on, but its not really worth it.

Take it from someone who loves a good state park...unless you really can't afford the extra $3.50 for gas, drive the extra 45 minutes to a better park with friendly, professional staff, more family friendly trails, and better scenery.

8  Thank unhappy-clients
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Write a ReviewReviews (42)
Traveler rating
Traveler type
Time of year
All reviews
"nice hiking trails"
in 4 reviews
"close to home"
in 4 reviews
"cross country skiing"
in 3 reviews
"twin cities"
in 6 reviews
"fall colors"
in 3 reviews
"day trip"
in 3 reviews
"fire pit"
in 2 reviews
"big woods"
in 5 reviews
"ranger station"
in 2 reviews
in 7 reviews
in 6 reviews
in 4 reviews
in 11 reviews
in 16 reviews
in 4 reviews
in 8 reviews
in 2 reviews

32 - 36 of 42 reviews

Reviewed September 2, 2013

This park has great forest camping with very private sites with small lakes/wetland views. You must backpack in all of your food, water, firewood & gear to your site. The trails are hilly, but not too long, so a reasonable amount of fitness is required. Our site overlooked at wetland, but surprisingly, the mosquitos were no worse than our own back yard in the cities. Because it is only 30- 40 minutes outside the city, it's great for out of town travelers with limited time who want to experience backpack camping in an old growth, North American hardwood forest. We brought our canoe, tried fishing and only caught bullheads, but were able to paddle into adjacent Silver Lake to swim. The flora & fauna are the main attractions here, with trumpeter swans, wetland birds, eagles, hawks, deer, turtles, small snakes visible each day. We visited over Labor Day weekend, and there was none of the business that one experiences in other MN State Parks on holiday weekends. We plan to visit again and try one of the other backpack sites or camper cabins that are available.

1  Thank Lisa F
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 14, 2012

It's nothing special. Poor campsites, algae covered lakes, poor fishing. Nothing to do... Luckily we just went there for a day trip to fish... Nothing even nibbled.

2  Thank M P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 3, 2012

I've been cross country skiing at this park but never camping. It was a nice visit in the early summer. We went kayaking, (they have kayaks and canoes to rent but we had our own.) Saw lots of birds including Bald Eagles and their nest! Very cool! We also went fishing and then we hiked to our campsite. Nice 3/4 mile hike and very secluded. Seemed like we had a lake to ourselves. Will be back to this park for sure.

3  Thank Trevor D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
See more reviews
Reviewed May 28, 2012

Trails are well marked and wide. Interesting things to see along the way. If you are a trail runner, this is a wonderful park to train at because there are so many rolling hills. It is a state park, so there is a $5 fee if you don't have an annual state park sticker.

2  Thank deniseb200
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Travelers who viewed Lake Maria State Park also viewed


Been to Lake Maria State Park? Share your experiences!

Write a Review Add Photos & Videos

Owners: What's your side of the story?

Own or manage this property? Claim your listing for free to respond to reviews, update your profile and much more.

Claim Your Listing