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“Descent park with easy hiking trails”

Lake Maria State Park
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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 August 13, 2014 via mobile

While the park certainly isn't among the most spectacular of Minnesota's State Parks, it does provide for some nice easy family hiking through a small part of what remains of the former "Big Woods".

In many cases there are multiple routes you can take to and from a certain parts of the park. For example, we were able to hike a route to Bjorklund Lake that took only about an hour round-trip from the trail center with five elementary-age children, but could have taken longer routes as well. The hiking is pretty easy with only minor hills. The shared horse/hiking paths we took were about 4-5 feet wide and bit muddy after some rainfall but not at all overgrown. We did need to dodge horse droppings multiple times along the way. In early August, the mosquitoes were still numerous in the evening.

The park was relatively empty when we visited on a Sunday evening. The numerous backpacking campsites we passed while hiking can be easily reached from the trail center and were set back far enough from the hiking trail as to provide some privacy. Less than half were occupied when we passed by but this could've been due to the recent rain.

It appeared that there were canoes that could be rented on Bjorklund lake. We saw what appeared to be a few swans on the opposite side of the lake, but due to their distance from us I may have wrongly identified them. In any case, the lake was isolated and there were no other people on it when we went to it near sunset. At that particular point of day it was beautiful and quiet.

If you're looking for a spur-of-the-moment escape from the cities during an off time (weekday or evening), I'd recommend this park as it is within an hour of the west side of the Twin Cities and wasn't overcrowded. However, if you're looking for grander views and planning to spend more time, you probably will want to look elsewhere.

1  Thank GrowinGrace
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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"hiking trails"
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"day trip"
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"ranger station"
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"big woods"
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"horses"
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"forest"
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"loop"
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"sites"
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"camping"
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"trees"
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28 - 32 of 42 reviews

Reviewed July 26, 2014 via mobile

No idea where it was from, but a live band was playing into midnight. It was pretty loud and did not make for a quiet relaxing night. Being exhausted from hiking a few parks the past few days and not being able to sleep because of this music almost made me just drive back home to the cities.

1  Thank Kyle H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 6, 2014

I wouldn't consider this one of Minnesota's best state parks, but it is nice. There are some great trees out here and a lot of bluebirds. What I thought was the nicest was the cabins they had out here for rental. There was a decent amount of cabins but they all seemed pretty private and situated on really nice tracks of land. The few times I have been out here there haven't been a lot of people, so that was really nice. There were a couple of good views from hill tops and shorelines. Overall it was nice but kind of mediocre compared to some of the great parks in MN.

1  Thank Justin B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 31, 2014

5pm 1/31/14. First time at the park to Cross country ski and I was disappointed. Made it 2.7k around the Lake Bjorkland trail and I was stopped cold to find the groomed trail ended in the middle of the woods. 0.8k up hill without a groomed track :(. Why??? The map is littered with trails and only a few are groomed. 48 hours since the last snow flake fell. Lake Maria advertises the trails and owns the equipment to groom and it is not done.

Thank 684Erik42
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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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.

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