Big Bog Boardwalk

Big Bog State Recreation Area, Minnesota

Trip Date: Saturday, July 4th, 2015
Last Updated: Thursday, December 12th, 2019
By Ricky Holzer

Hike Information

Rating ★★★★☆(4/5)
Overall Difficulty Easy
Navigation Difficulty     Easy
Distance 2 miles roundtrip
Time 1 hour
Terrain Mostly flat
Best Seasons All
Family Friendly Yes
Dog Friendly Yes
Accessible Yes


Hike Summary

This mile long boardwalk gives you a chance to see the main attraction at Big Bog State Recreation Area: a 500 square mile peatland that has been described as Minnesota's last true wilderness. As the largest peat bog in the contiguous U.S., this wilderness is quite and filled with interesting plants that have adapted to the harsh climate of northern Minnesota and the acidic, wet environment of a peat bog. This is truly somewhere special.

The hike begins following the Ludlow Pond Trail for a very short distance, giving you serene views of the calm waters and surrounding forest like in the picture below. Soon you will see the start of the boardwalk on the right. The metal boardwalk continues for one mile until it dead ends at a platform with telescopes and benches.

Ludlow Pond

Overlooking the calm Ludlow Pond

There is something for everyone on this hike, and informational signs are spread throughout will teach you everything you ever wanted to know about this peatland. History buffs will enjoy reading about the many failed attempts to drain and develop the bog. Nature lovers will love learning about the bog ecosystem and seeing some of the most unique plants in the state, like the carnivorous pitcher plant and sundew. Engineers will marvel at the specially designed boardwalk that allows sunlight through so these plants may thrive. The picture below shows the unique landscape you can enjoy throughout the hike.

Looking east at the bog

Looking east at the bog

If this short hike has you hungry for more, I suggest you continue onto the Old Caribou Camp and Marsh Vista Trail Loop. While you are in the area, experience everything else the Big Bog State Recreation Area has to offer including swimming in the reddish brown waters of Red Lake, hiking the Red Lake Beach and Old Marina Trails, or climbing the stairs to the top of the fire tower. Let me know what you think in the comments section below and be sure to use #nocoastbestcoast on Twitter and Instagram!

Important Information

Everyone in your family can join you on this hike, even your pet! Minnesota State Parks and Recreation Areas allow pets as long as they are on a leash six feet or shorter in length. The boardwalk (and the trail to the boardwalk) is designated ADA accessible. The trail is available for hiking in all seasons and would be quite a different experience when covered in snow. One of the great things about this recreation area is that it is so remote that it shouldn't be crowded, even on busy weekends -- I went during 4th of July weekend and only saw a handful of people on the trails. Be sure to bring bug spray -- you won't be surprised to hear that the largest bog in the lower 48 is also home to the largest population of mosquitoes.


Big Bog State Recreation Area is quite remote, so the drive itself will be an adventure. The recreation area is located along Highway 72 just north of Waskish. Stop at the visitor center to pay your vehicle entry fee, then continue 9 miles north on the highway to the Northern Unit.

Google Maps Directions

Parking, Fees, and Facilities

Like all Minnesota State Parks and Recreation Areas, you must pay a vehicle entry fee of $7 per day or $35 for an annual pass (highly recommended if you frequently go to Minnesota State Parks). There is a parking lot a short drive from the highway and has a covered picnic area and vault toilets.

Nearby Hikes

The viewing platform on the Marsh Vista Trail gives you this lush scene
Old Caribou Camp and Marsh Vista Trail Loop
Big Bog State Recreation Area, Minnesota
The grassy shores of Red Lake
Red Lake Beach and Old Marina Trails
Big Bog State Recreation Area, Minnesota
The trees here are so tall you can
Lost Forty Loop
Chippewa National Forest, Minnesota
The lake view at the end of the bog walk
Bog Walk Hiking Club Trail
Lake Bemidji State Park, Minnesota

External Links