|Distance||2 miles roundtrip|
- Perfect hike for the whole family
- Wander through a grove of old growth hardwood forest
- See the Blandings turtle, a threatened species in Minnesota
The Bjorkland Trail is one of the designated Hiking Club Trails, a series of trails in Minnesota State Parks perfect for kids or beginners. More information about the Hiking Club is available on the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources website. Reward patches are available for each increment of 25 miles you complete, and once you hike 100 miles, you will receive a coupon for a free night of camping. At some point along each Hiking Club trail you will find a sign with the secret password. Even I have fun trying to guess what the password will be (and usually it is something really obvious for the park that you won't guess and will make you say, "Oh, duh").
Several trails start from this parking area near the visitor center, so be sure to follow signs labeled Hiking Club or Bjorkland Trail to lead you the correct direction. The hike starts by following rolling terrain through the forest with meadows interspersed. About halfway through the hike, you will reach Maria Lake, the namesake of this park. There is a dock at the lake for those feeling hardy enough to portage canoes -- judging from the picture below, the pain is probably worth it.
Dogs are allowed on a leash of no more than 6 feet in length. Like most Hiking Club Trails, this is an excellent hike for the whole family. While this trail is usable all year, during the winter it is groomed for cross country skiing and hiking is not allowed on this particular route; however, you can still reach Maria Lake via the ungroomed trails that form a cross in the middle of the loop or explore the ungroomed trails on the northern half of the park.
Lake Maria State Park is the perfect day trip because it is only an hour from the Twin Cities or only half an hour from St. Cloud. Starting in the Twin Cities, take Interstate 94 west towards St. Cloud. Take the exit for State Highway 25 (Pine Street) in Monticello, then turn left. Immediately after crossing over the interstate, turn right on Chelsea Road. Continue straight for about a mile and a half, then turn left on County Road 39. In five and a half miles, turn right on County Road 111, then turn left on Park Road to enter the park. Follow signs in the park for the Trail Center.
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). The Trail Center has bathrooms and informational exhibits about the park and its wildlife.