As spring subtly transforms into summer, the lush forestry that surrounds Big Sandy Lodge & Resort comes back to life. The ancient hardwoods near Big Sandy Lake regain their emerald color, breathtaking woodland creatures return to their summer homes, and thousands of families, couples, and groups flock to top-rated Northern Minnesota resorts for seemingly endless outdoor adventures. When you’re not fishing, swimming, and kayaking on Big Sandy Lake this summer, we highly recommend embarking on a mid-summer expedition on some of the best hiking trails in Minnesota.
Savanna Portage State Park
One of the last remaining hidden gems in the northland is just a short drive from our comfy Big Sandy Lake cabins: Savanna Portage State Park, home to several of the best hiking trails in Minnesota. The historic Savanna Portage Trail was once traversed by explorers, fur traders, and two local tribes (Dakota and Ojibwe) more than 200 years ago. There are more than 15,000 acres of lakes, bogs, and rolling hills to explore, so remember to pack a picnic and plenty of fluids.
The 5.3-mile, aptly-named Continental Divide Trail meanders along the pristine hillside. You’ll discover a point in the trail where the water splits and runs west to the Mississippi and east to the St. Louis. The Lake Shumway Trail, meanwhile, features a breathtaking bog walk where hikers can often spot otters, deer, swans, beavers, birds, and muskrats. And don’t forget to bring your swimming trunks because Loon Lake is a popular place for an afternoon dip!
Rice Lake National Wildlife Refuge
Rice Lake National Wildlife Refuge is just five miles south of McGregor, MN, making it another ideal mid-day stop to enjoy some of the best hiking trails in Minnesota. Only locals typically utilize these trails as travelers have yet to discover the beauty of this marshland, grassland, and hardwood forest. Most visitors hike along the 6.2-mile loop that meanders past Twin Lakes, Mandy Lake, and the North Bog where you’ll spot bright grasslands, lush forestry, and friendly wildlife such as owls, deer, and porcupines. Rice Lake is a birdwatcher’s haven as this tranquil body of water is teeming with ring-necked ducks, waterfowl, hawks, and several other beautiful species.
While Libby Dam – located along the north end of Big Sandy Lake – isn’t home to some of the best hiking trails in Minnesota, it’s a worthwhile pit stop for those searching for a mournful slice of American history. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers operates Libby Dam, which is the site of the Sandy Lake Tragedy where hundreds of Ojibwe died waiting for government supplies in 1850. A memorial has been erected on the site to commemorate those who were lost. Libby Dam was also one of the first reservoir systems in the U.S. The area near Libby Dam is often used for fishing, swimming, picnicking, and hiking.
Lakefront Northern Minnesota Lodges
After a full day of exploring some of the best hiking trails in Minnesota, return to Big Sandy Lodge & Resort for flame-grilled salmon or a ten-ounce ribeye on our lake-view outdoor patio. Spend the last hours of sunlight by tossing horseshoes, fishing for walleye, and soaking in a hot tub. Polish off the evening with a late-night campfire with family and friends both new and old; roast marshmallows, stargaze, and share stories of the day’s best adventures! To book a well-deserved family escape to peaceful McGregor, MN, where natural wonders never cease, please give us a call today at 1-218-426-5040, or visit us online!