Within an hour from Detroit Lakes you can explore three Minnesota state parks, three state forests and more than 70,000 acres of tax forfeited lands managed by Becker County. A preserve is located on the southeast side of the city. Two national wildlife refuges and a wetland management district are located within minutes of Detroit Lakes.
Maplewood State Park is just 25 minutes south of Detroit Lakes. Beautiful any time of the year, this 9,264-acre Minnesota park is most appreciated in fall, when maple leaves explode with color. Take a horse on a 20-mile trail ride, hike or bike 25 miles or stroll along the 1.2 self-guided tour trail. In the winter ski on 13 miles of groomed trails or snowmobile 15 miles through the park. Camp, boat, fish, picnic - Maplewood State Park has it all.
Head 30 minutes west to Buffalo River State Park. Hike 12 miles in the summer; ski 6 miles in the winter. This 1,322-acre Minnesota state park has camping, river fishing, a visitors center and interpretive exhibits.
An hour away, Itasca State Park is well worth the trip. Take your time exploring this 32,690-acre Minnesota park. There's not much you won't find here. There's camping, boating, fishing, hiking, biking, skiing and snowmobile trails. Regularly scheduled naturalist programs, interpretive exhibits and a visitors center make Itasca a fun and educational place to visit. While you're there, don't forget to check out the place where the Mississippi River begins. Visit the Mary Gibbs Headwaters Center and Visitor Center to learn the Minnesota state park's history.
Finally, a 20-minute trip east takes you to the heart of Smoky Hills State Forest, 24,000 acres of rolling hills and forests. Hike, bike or just enjoy the view. While you're there, explore neighboring Two Inlets State Forest with 26,000 acres of public land, and White Earth State Forest with 160,000 acres of forest, brush and marsh. These Minnesota state forests offer exceptional fall foliage viewing and winter trails for snowmobiling.
Tax Forfeited Forest Lands Managed by Becker County
Becker County manages more than 70,000 acres of forested lands primarily located north and east of Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge. Most of these lands were designated for conservation purposes by the Becker County Board in the 1940s and 1950s. The lands are actively managed by multiple use management strategies and are open to the public for outdoor recreation activities. Access to these lands is provided by approximately 45 miles of maintained roads, another 30 plus miles of minimum maintenance roads and an extensive network of unmaintained trails. See the map showing the land location and roads.
Located 18 miles northeast of Detroit Lakes, this 43,000-acre national wildlife refuge includes more than 20 lakes, three rivers and thousands of marshes and woodland ponds. More than 250 bird species, such as the Bald Eagle, Trumpeter Swan and Ruffed Grouse call Tamarac home. Search for whitetail deer, porcupine, beaver, black bear, moose or timber wolf. Start your visit at the newly energy-retrofitted Visitor's Center, open weekdays year round, as well as summer and fall weekends. The center features an exhibit area, bookshop and auditorium. Adjacent to the Visitor Center is the new Discovery Center. Pick up literature for self-guided wildlife tours and hiking trails. Find out more about Tamarac at:
Designated as one of Minnesota's Important Bird Areas, this national wildlife refuge is located 6 miles northwest of Detroit Lakes at the intersection of County Road 104 and Township Road 440. Hamden Slough offers excellent viewing of waterfowl, marsh and shorebirds and birds of prey during spring and fall migrations. Over 225 prairie birds, such as LeConte's Sparrow, Prairie Chickens and Marbled Godwits are commonly seen. Wetlands, native grasslands and wildflowers are being restored. Contact the Detroit Lakes Wetland Management District office for information.
The U.S Fish & Wildlife Service manages thousands of acres of wetland, prairie and wooded habitat that is home more than 280 birds species, wildlife and plants. The more than 90 acre wetland located at the district's headquarters is one mile north of Detroit Lakes, Minnesota on North Tower Road and is open to visitors. Hikers and birders especially appreciate the 1.9 mile Prairie Marsh Trail. Watch for Osprey, waterfowl, prairie sparrows, woodpeckers, Trumpeter Swans, bluebirds and white-tailed deer. The headquarters is open 7:30 a.m.-4:00 p.m. Monday-Friday.
This newest nature area is located within the city of Detroit Lakes, Minnesota just north of Highway 10 East. You will be greeted by a circular parking lot for cars and buses at Sucker Creek Preserve. A half-mile accessible path leads you through maple and basswood forest, mixed with prairie. Interpretive signage and eco-friendly benches provide stops to rest along the way. The paved path culminates with an ampitheatre. Access the new marshwalk by unimproved Janet Boe Memorial Path. The more than 60 acres also includes swamp and trout stream. Recently acquired Upstream Sucker Creek adds another 53 acres to the Preserve. Located east of Sucker Creek Preserve at 290th Avenue, Upstream Sucker Creek features a natural mineral spring. To visit, take Highway 10 east of Detroit Lakes to 290th Avenue, then 3/10 mile.