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“Nice trails, but campground just OK”
Review of Banning State Park

Banning State Park
Ranked #1 of 4 things to do in Sandstone
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Attraction details
Owner description: Hikers through this State Park have a choice of many scenic trails, which wind through birch and pine forests bordering along the turbulent waters of the Kettle River.
Minneapolis
Level Contributor
38 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 28 helpful votes
“Nice trails, but campground just OK”
Reviewed July 5, 2011

.If you're looking for quiet solitude in the woods, the campgrounds at Banning State Park probably aren't your place. In general, they lack privacy and can be noisy. The sound of I-35 can be heard in the distance, as can frequent trains at night. You can also hear people from the too-close campsites. Our site was one of the better ones, but it was still exposed to the road and the family camping right across from us. If you can, get site #18, one of the few sites that had some privacy. (Avoid 32, 2E, 4E and 6E at all costs.) On the plus side, Banning is a great place for some easy and scenic hikes. The main trails are along the raging Kettle River, and include several historic mining structures. There’s also a great hike to a waterfall that is not to be missed. Another plus is that it’s possible to bicycle from your campsite to the Munger Trail. First, take the access trail in the park (ask at the entrance station), then bike about 4 miles down to Sandstone on the shoulder of the road. Then, cross the interstate to an access trail about a ½ mile down on the left. From the Munger, you can bike down to Hinckley or up to Finlayson, Rutledge, or Willow River. Overall, we had a very nice time at Banning and on the Munger Trail, but will probably continue our search for campgrounds with a little more privacy and less noise.

Visited June 2011
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8 Thank SRJMod
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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45 reviews from our community

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  • English first
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English first
Rochester, MN
Level Contributor
8 reviews
5 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 27 helpful votes
“Good campsites, nice scenery, interesting history, and clean facilities”
Reviewed June 2, 2011

My family and I camped at Banning State Park for two nights on Memorial Day weekend 2011. The weather didn't cooperate very well, and the ticks were out in full force, but we still had an enjoyable time and might well be back in the future.

We tent camped in site 33, with friends in site 34. These sites, as well as most of the other sites, are heavily wooded. The sites near the main restroom (2,4, and 6) are not very wooded, but are next to a fairly large grassy area. Generally, the sites in the campground have good to very good spacing and privacy. This is particularly true of odd numbered sites from 19-33, as well as 18 and 34.

We went on the Quarry Loop guided trail - about 2 miles, with stops along the way and a brochure (available from the front office) providing information about each stop. The trail focuses on a sandstone quarrying operation that was in the area from about 1890 to 1910. Not much remains of the operation, but the brochure pointed out some of the remains and provided interesting information. Scenic views of the Kettle River can be seen as well, and supposedly, when the conditions are good, you can watch kayakers running the river, which is known for some challenging rapids.

We also hiked to Wolf Creek Falls, which is about a 14 ft waterfall just off of the Kettle River. Not spectacular, but a pretty little waterfall in a scenic setting. Definitely worth the hike, which is less than 2 miles round trip. We did see a couple of kayakers in Wolf Creek, and one of them took his kayak over the falls, which was pretty neat to see.

The other trails weren't very passable due to spring rains, so we didn't try any others. Instead, we did a daytrip up to Moose Lake State Park and enjoyed a half day up there.

The bathroom/shower facilities, like those in most Minnesota state parks, are well-kept and clean.

All of this - a three day and two night getaway - for a $25 annual parks pass and about $40 of camping fees - was easily worth it.

Visited May 2011
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8 Thank BigFatMeanie
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
US
Level Contributor
33 reviews
15 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 35 helpful votes
“History and Nature in One Stop”
Reviewed August 31, 2010

This state park is amazing - one of my new favorites. Just under 2 hours from the Twin Cities this park is about 1 mile off I-35. We visited in August with my parents, infant child and two dogs. The park had something to offer for all of us!
We chose to take he Quarry Loop hike which is about a 2 mile walk. If you stop at the visitor center the rangers will have a brochure on this self guided tour. The hike is fairly easy (until the end) and we were able to do it pushing a jogging stroller - with one catch. At the very end of the loop there is about 30 stairs to climb - luckily my dad and husband carried the stroller while I carried the baby up the stairs. The hike takes you on a tour of an abandoned mine site, as well as the village of Banning. Remnants of buildingsand railroads routes are located at various stops along the way. It also offers spectacular views of the river, some wildlife, and various trees and plants.
We really wanted to see Hell's Gate waterfalls further down the trail however with a stroller the trail was just too rugged and we had to turn back on to the Quarry Loop Trail. I guess that means another trip is in order!
There were many kayaks on the rapids and that was fun to watch the thrillseekers navigating the Kettle River. If you are an experienced kayaker this place is for you! The rapids looked incredible.
If you visit, bring your camera, bug spray, hiking shoes and kayak! Be sure to plan for a couple of hours as there are plenty of trails to hike and sights to see.

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5 Thank HedoHP
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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