Adventure Calls: Explore Minnesota State Parks Near Lake Mille Lacs

When adventure calls us off-site, we know just where to go – 

Minnesota State Parks! 

In fact, just a half hour drive from our location on Lake Mille Lacs you will find two of our favorite parks: Mille Lacs Kathio State Park and Father Hennepin State Park.

Mille Lacs Kathio State Park. 
Photo credit: Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Mille Lacs Kathio State Park

Take a drive along the lake to the south-west corner and you’ll discover Mille Lacs Kathio State Park. While established officially as a state park in 1957, this site and surrounding land has a rich and interesting history.

Inside the Interpretive Center, you will learn about the cultural and natural history of the region. Beautiful displays and engaging educational materials showcase the story of this land. History enthusiasts will love diving into the 9000 year timeline of known human presence in the area as well as on-going archaeological study at the state park today. 

Through large windows and on a lovely deck, you can take in views of Ogechie Lake enticing you to head outdoors for hands-on exploration.

In the beauty of the outdoors, miles of trails are available for hiking including self-guided interpretive trails highlighting landmarks of historic and cultural significance. Views of waterways, boardwalks over bogs, fields of wildflowers…these are just a few of the sights along the trails.

Beautiful view from the top of the observation tower at the Mille Lacs Kathio State Park
Photo credit: Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

One more sight…it’s on to the park’s observation tower. Climb 100 feet to the top for incredible views above the tree-tops and a new appreciation for the vast wonder of the Mille Lacs region.

When you’re ready to rest and refuel, make a stop at one of the many tables and benches available. Nothing feels quite so satisfying as unpacking a picnic lunch under the sunshine of a warm day! And then, when your party is full and rested, perhaps you’ll be ready for a swim!

The park’s swimming area is a man-made pond with sandy shore and maximum depth of 6 feet. It offers a leisurely opportunity for cooling down after your park adventures and is conveniently located near both picnic tables and the Interpretive Center.

Additional park features include birding, fishing, nature playground, nature programs, winter recreation (snowshoeing, cross-country skiing), access to Rum River (canoes, kayaks & rowboats available for rental), access to Ogechie Lake and access to the pristine Black Bass Lake. 

Indeed, you can spend a full, happy day at Mille Lacs Kathio State Park!


Father Hennepin State Park has a beautiful beach along the lake.
Photo credit: Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

Father Hennepin State Park

Take a drive along the lake to the south-east corner and you’ll discover Father Hennepin State Park. This is the park you want to visit for the quintessential beach day!

This state park offers one of the few public, sandy beaches on Lake Mille Lacs. It is the place to visit for a relaxing day along the shore with the hallmarks of summer fun including a picnic area, horseshoe pits, volleyball court and playground. 

When you’re ready to stretch your legs, you can take a stroll along the sandy beaches or strike out for a hike along the park’s 4.5 miles of trails. Trails extend both through the forest and along the lake where magnificent views can be taken in. 

Want to make your hike a little more interesting? Then you’ll want to try geocaching on the site.

Throughout the trails are hidden caches you can find by GPS. This engaging activity is family-friendly and the park offers GPS units to use for free. 

Two fishing piers are located at the park within walking distance of the parking lot and wheelchair accessible. 
Photo credit: Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

If you hoped a stop at Father Hennepin would include fishing, well, of course it does! You’ll find two piers where you can cast your line. Located in a wetland setting, the South Fishing Pier is also of interest for wildlife viewing and a highlight of the park is the presence of albino deer. 

Coming by boat to the park? You’ll find public boat access with room for larger boats and pontoons. 

Additional park features include birding, nature programs, winter recreation (snowshoeing, cross-country skiing), camping and nearby access to the Soo Line State Trail.

Whether you choose to design your own adventure at Mille Lacs Kathio State Park or Father Hennepin State Park, you won’t be disappointed. Both Minnesota State Parks offer a variety of recreational opportunities in the spectacular setting of the Lake Mille Lacs area. 



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