I; ;;; ;;;;; ; ;;;;;;;;;; ;;;; of Minnesota’s wooded and prairie landscapes as a reward for a hike,
bike trek or scenic drive, you’ll find
plenty throughout central Minnesota’s
o;-rolling terrain, do;ed with lakes and
threaded by the Mississippi River. Look
for prairie flowers by midsummer,
ruby-red sumac in early fall, and trees
that flame into orange, gold and bronze
from mid-September to mid-October.
Don’t forget to bring your favorite
tool to capture these inspirational sights,
whether it’s a camera, sketchbook,
GoPro, or your phone and selfie stick.
The view from Portsmuth Overlook,
in the Cuyuna Country State Recreation
Area near Crosby, unfurls with sky-blue lakes, steep green hills and a
hint of iron-red dirt. You’ll see a lot
of that colorful soil on the wheels of
enthusiastic mountain bikers who join
paddlers, anglers and even scuba divers
to explore the former mining area,
where 15 open pits have transformed
into extra-deep, spring-fed lakes.
With lakeside camping spots, a
beach, trails and great bird watching,
the 3,400-acre Sibley State Park near
New London ranks among central
Minnesota’s favorite destinations. Even
if you’re just passing through, make
time for the visitor center and a hike
to Mount Tom, where an observation
tower 1,375 feet above sea level—the
Rolling terrain, glistening lakes and the mighty Mississippi
make for once-in-a-lifetime vistas. | LISA MEYERS MCCLINTICK
highest point for 50 miles—o;ers
an expansive view of prairie knolls,
grasslands and oak savanna.
As you’re climbing Mille Lacs Kathio
State Park’s 100-foot-tall observation
tower for stellar views from the south
shore of Lake Mille Lacs, ponder this:
Humans have been camping, fishing
and gathering wild rice in this region
for more than 9,000 years. At 10,000
acres, Minnesota’s fourth-largest state
park includes exhibits and programs
on Ojibwe traditions and culture, and
you can drive to the Mille Lacs Indian
Museum north of the park to learn more.
In addition to seeing the forest’s fall
colors, don’t miss the park’s bog walk
when the tamarack turn gold.
The Paul Bunyan Fire Tower stands
1,334 feet tall, just east of Pequot Lakes.
Imagine life as the tall-tale lumberjack
and stretch your legs along the 54-mile
Paul Bunyan Scenic Byway that winds
around the Whitefish Chain of Lakes
north of Brainerd.
Or, pack a picnic and savor the views
10 miles south of Clitherall, where
Inspiration Peak—the state’s second-highest point—o;ers a view of nine lakes
and three counties.
Near Pelican Rapids, a half-mile hike
up Maplewood State Park’s Hallaway
Hill leads to a 1,600-foot vista that sweeps
across eight lakes and a landscape where
western prairie and eastern forests come
together in the rolling Leaf Hills. Catch
it during a crisp fall day for the most
MILLE LACS KATHIO STATE PARK, ONAMIA