Pope Point and Hiking Club Loop

Father Hennepin State Park, Minnesota

Trip Date: Sunday, August 27th, 2017
Last Updated: Thursday, August 31st, 2017
By Ricky Holzer

Hike Information

Rating ★★★☆☆(3/5)
Overall Difficulty Easy
Navigation Difficulty     Easy
Distance 3 miles roundtrip
Time 1.5 hours
Terrain Mostly flat
Best Seasons All
Family Friendly Yes
Dog Friendly Yes
Accessible No


Hike Summary

After seeing this park advertised on my annual Minnesota State Parks pass, I decided I needed to visit. With this hike, you will see pretty much everything there is to see in Father Hennepin State Park. While the forest here isn't as nice as the nearby Mille Lacs Kathio State Park, what this park does have is plenty of waterfront trail along Mille Lacs Lake (the second largest lake by area entirely within Minnesota's borders). This trail is part of the Hiking Club, a great program to introduce anyone to hiking.

Dogs are allowed on leash. Although 3 miles might seem long for a hike labeled easy or family friendly, the terrain is flat and there are plenty of benches and natural stopping points along the way. If you don't think you'll be able to do the entire hike, split the hike and do either the 1 mile hike to Pope Point or the 2 mile Hiking Club loop (if you don't care about the Hiking Club password, the trail to Pope Point is definitely the better option). The trail starts and ends at a nice sandy beach on Mille Lacs Lake perfect for relaxing and enjoying a nice summer day.

The hike starts with a trip to Pope Point that is worth the extra mile of hiking it adds to the Hiking Club loop; this entire section of trail follows the shore of Mille Lacs Lake and ends with a good view across the lake at a rocky beach -- pictured below. A sign at Pope Point will inform you about the ironically rare bird called the common tern that is found in the area. If you look closely, you can see a rocky outcropping in the distance on the lake which is one of the few nesting grounds of common terns. Turn around and head back to the parking lot when you're ready to continue hiking.

Mille Lacs Lake seems like an ocean at Pope Point

Mille Lacs Lake seems like an ocean at Pope Point
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The Hiking Club trail resumes across the parking lot (look for the blue signs) and heads into the forest. The rest of the trail is unremarkable, but there is a series of interpretive signs to give you something to read along the journey. Stay straight at the first intersection, then veer to the left at the next intersection. The forest looks like the picture below and has ponds and meadows scattered throughout.
Still ponds and meadows between forest

Still ponds and meadows between forest
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This next section has a strange route that involves walking on the road in the campground. Cross the park road, and the trail will end in the campground. Turn right, then right again following the road until a parking lot. The trail is on the left; follow this until it loops back to the campground, then turn right onto the road. At the bottom of the short hill, turn left on the road and look for the trail on the right side.

The remainder of the trail follows the shoreline, and near the boat launch area you will have views of the lake through the trees like shown the photo at the top of the page. Eventually, the trail ends at the beach and you turn left to return to the parking lot. Yet another Hiking Club trail completed! Let me know if you enjoyed this hike in the comment section below, and be sure to use #nocoastbestcoast on Twitter and Instagram!


From the Twin Cities, take Interstate 94 west to Rogers, then take the exit for Minnesota Highway 101 north. Continue straight and the highway changes into U.S. Highway 169. A few miles after Onamia, turn right onto Minnesota Highway 27 heading east. Following signs for Father Hennepin State Park, turn left onto Father Hennepin Park Road. Pay the entrance fee at the park office on the right, then continue on the main park road and park in the lot where the road ends.

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 are vault toilets in a building a short walk from the lot.

Nearby Hikes

One lone tree across the meadow changing colors for fall
Hiking Club Loop
Mille Lacs Kathio State Park, Minnesota
Beautiful fall colors on one of the Twin Lakes
Rice Lake Trail and Twin Lakes Loop
Rice Lake National Wildlife Refuge, Minnesota
You too can eat lunch with this view of Wolf Creek Falls!
Wolf Creek Falls and Quarry Loop
Banning State Park, Minnesota
Just one of the many pretty river views along the trail
Two Rivers Loop
St. Croix State Park, Minnesota

External Links