Lake Bemidji State Park
Paul Bunyan State Trail
Extending from it’s northern trailhead in Lake Bemidji State Park and south to Crow Wing State Park near Brainerd, MN, is the 123 mile multi-use Paul Bunyan State Trail, Minnesota’s longest state trail. Main summer uses of the trail include hiking, bicycling, and in-line skating. The terrain of the Paul Bunyan Trail ranges from flat and open to hilly and scenic, perfect for any level of bike rider. Snowmobiling is the trail’s primary winter use. Studded tracks are allowed, and the trail provides connections to many miles of the Grant-in-Aid groomed trail system. At Lake Bemidji State Park, the Paul Bunyan State Trail also connects north to the Blue Ox Trail, primarily an unpaved motorized trail for snowmobiling and off-highway vehicle riding, extending northeast to International Falls, MN. Together, at 213 miles, this forms one of the longest rail-to-trail conversions in North America.
Located in the lower level of the Park’s office is the Visitor Center. A hub for nature learning, activities to enjoy include exhibits that illuminate local plants and animals, information about Lake Bemidji, and more on the botanical bog. Kids love watching the 200-gallon aquarium, climbing inside the life-size beaver lodge, or checking out the touchscreen computer displays. Informative programs take place year-round and include everything from snowshoe lacing to butterflies, ice fishing and storytime.
The best swimming beach on the lake can be found at Lake Bemidji State Park! The long sandy shore invites you to soak up the sun all summer. Buoys mark off a safe swimming area from boaters, and benches let you lounge with a book or relax while the kids play.
One popular Park photo spot is the arched bridge over the marina channel. Lake Bemidji State Park’s marina includes a concrete loading ramp with ten slips, as well as a canoe access point. Rentals of canoes, kayaks and fishing boats are available seasonally from Fishing Opener in May through mid-October.
Bog Trail Boardwalk
Living exclusively in areas of Lake Bemidji State Park are some of Minnesota’s most unusual plant and animal species– and this unique world can be seen along the park’s quarter-mile Bog Trail Boardwalk. Handicap accessible, visitors can observe Minnesota’s state flower, the showy lady’s slipper, view pitcher plants, dragon’s mouth, grass pink, insect-eating sundews and even a hidden lake. Eight orchid species and over 100 other plants are on display, blooming throughout the spring and summer seasons. Interpretive displays along the way will introduce you to the bog’s hydrology, plant and animal species.
Explore Minnesota Tourism
One of the best times to be had in winter is snowshoeing Lake Bemidji State Park! (Members of the Minnesota Twins that visited the Park will agree!) A favored hike includes the Bemidji Bog Boardwalk where you might catch a glimpse of a snowshoe hare. Snowshoe rental with instruction available. Lantern- lit snowshoe events are held throughout the season.
Enjoy the fun of a modern-day treasure hunt at the Lake Bemidji State Park! Designated as a Minnesota GPS Demonstration Park, if you don’t have a GPS unit you can use one of the Park’s hand-held units for free! Park staff is onhand to provide helpful tips and geocaching information. Lake Bemidji’s State Park also participates in the statewide geocaching special challenges such as the Call of the Wildflowers and the Geocaching Avian Adventure, held at select parks and recreational areas across Minnesota.
Explore Minnesota Tourism
11 miles of easy to moderate trails will take you through areas of maturing pine, aspen and hardwoods. A quiet hike on one of the Park trails can yield a glimpse of a doe with her fawn, a porcupine having lunch halfway up a jack pine, or even an occasional wolf or black bear– all making it hard to believe how close you are to the City. Two miles of the Park’s trails are also wheelchair accessible.
Rocky Point Overlook with its spectacular view high over Lake Bemidji is one of the most popular Park destinations. The Rocky Point Trail runs along the lakeshore, gaining in elevation as it rises to a bluff where visitors enjoy the observation deck, replete with exhibits and benches.
If you don’t have a boat, or the whitecaps are just too high, Lake Bemidji State Park’s fishing pier is a great place to cast a line. During a spring or fall evening and you might hook a walleye. Summertime could be perch or northern. The Park offers fishing programs as well as tours of Lake Bemidji and the upper Mississippi throughout the summer. The pier is wheelchair accessible, and a fish-cleaning house is available.
From the Park’s location, riders are guaranteed trail connections to virtually any place in the state. Three miles of groomed snowmobile trails are available within Lake Bemidji State Park. Located in the Park is the northern trailhead of the Paul Bunyan Snowmobile Trail, part of the Minnesota Interconnecting Trail System (MITS) that runs 100 plus miles south to Brainerd, with hundreds of spur trails along the way. The Blue Ox Trail, another MITS, is accessible in the Park and travels 110 miles north to International Falls, Winnipeg and beyond.
Miles of groomed cross-country ski trails provide both advanced and beginning skiers with an exciting yet peaceful cross-country skiing experience. Scenic trails wind through the forest, skirt the lake, and even access the Bog Walk offering skiers a unique view of winter wildlife. Within the Park are eight miles of trails groomed for classical skiing, with a half-mile of ungroomed trails, and 1.3 miles of skate skiing trails. Candlelit ski tours are held throughout the year. Lit only with luminaries, skiers go the distance they choose, ending with a warming refreshment by a crackling fire. Twenty-eight miles of additional trails can be accessed within just 5-miles of the Park.
Lake Bemidji State Park offers bicyclists 1.3 miles of in-park lakeside paved trails, including a scenic stop at the beautiful Rocky Point Trail overlook. There are also 5 miles of mountain bike loops with varying terrain. And as the northern trailhead of the 123 mile Paul Bunyan Bike Trail, the Lake Bemidji State Park section of this rail-to-trail route is thought to be the most scenic, taking riders through beautiful woods as it crosses the Mississippi River. Park bike routes also connect to the city’s 17 mile Loop The Lake route that skirts along the west side of Lake Bemidji and downtown Bemidji. Nice Ride bike rentals available at the Park, too.