State Parks Alexandria MN

7 State Parks Near Alexandria MN: Discover the beauty of Minnesota

I’m excited to share with you the incredible beauty of Minnesota’s state parks near Alexandria. Whether you’re seeking outdoor adventures, breathtaking views, or a serene lakeside retreat, these state parks have it all. From hiking trails to camping spots, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. Let’s explore the top 7 state parks in the area and discover the natural wonders that await in Alexandria, MN!

Key Takeaways:

  • Explore the scenic beauty of Minnesota’s state parks near Alexandria.
  • Enjoy a variety of outdoor activities such as hiking, camping, and more.
  • Experience the vibrant fall colors and breathtaking landscapes.
  • Discover family-friendly state parks perfect for nature getaways.
  • Don’t miss the opportunity to immerse yourself in the natural wonders of Alexandria, MN.

Lake Carlos State Park: A Fall Wonderland

Lake Carlos State Park is a must-visit destination in the fall. With over 14 miles of hiking trails, this park offers a variety of scenic routes through the woods, grasslands, and along the shores of Lake Carlos. The Maple-Basswood Interpretive Trail is particularly stunning during the autumn season, with brilliant colors on the maples, basswoods, and aspens. Don’t forget to bring your camera to capture the vibrant fall foliage. The park also provides lakeside camping options, allowing visitors to fully immerse themselves in the beauty of the season.

Key Features of Lake Carlos State Park:

  • Over 14 miles of hiking trails
  • Scenic routes through woods, grasslands, and along the shores of Lake Carlos
  • Maple-Basswood Interpretive Trail showcasing brilliant fall colors
  • Lakeside camping options for an immersive experience

Lake Carlos State Park is a haven for nature enthusiasts and photography enthusiasts alike. The picturesque landscapes and vibrant hues of the fall season make it a perfect destination for capturing breathtaking photos. Whether you’re hiking the trails or enjoying a lakeside campfire, Lake Carlos State Park offers a truly magical fall experience.

Central Lakes Trail: A Paved Adventure

If you’re looking for a scenic biking or walking adventure, the Central Lakes Trail is the perfect choice. Spanning 55 miles, this paved trail meanders through glacial hills, lakeside views, diverse woods, and open prairies. It’s a popular spot for biking, blading, running, and walking, offering a great way to enjoy the fall weather.

One particularly beautiful stretch of the trail is located 3-5 miles west of Alexandria’s downtown, passing by Lake Brophy, North Union Lake, and Lake Stony. Get ready to enjoy the crunch of leaves under your tires and take in the blaze red sumac along the trail.

Biking on Central Lakes Trail

Biking Trails Distance Difficulty Level
Central Lakes Trail (Alexandria Segment) 55 miles Easy
Lake Brophy County Park Trail 3 miles Easy
Arrowwood Resort Trails 8 miles Easy to Moderate
Carlos State Park Mountain Bike Trail 13 miles Moderate

The Central Lakes Trail offers a picturesque journey through the natural beauty of Alexandria. Whether you’re an experienced cyclist or a leisurely rider, this trail provides a paved adventure that showcases the stunning landscapes of the area. So grab your bike, hit the trail, and immerse yourself in the outdoor wonders of Central Lakes Trail.

Glacial Ridge Scenic Byway: A Scenic Drive

Embark on a scenic drive along the Glacial Ridge Scenic Byway to witness the breathtaking autumn hues of Minnesota. Stretching 220 miles, this route takes you through multiple communities, lakes, woods, state parks, and farmlands. As you cruise along the byway, you’ll be treated to stunning fall colors, especially on Highway 27 west of Alexandria. This route will take you to Kensington Runestone Park, another great spot for enjoying the vibrant colors of the season. Don’t miss the opportunity to capture the beauty of Minnesota’s fall foliage on this scenic drive.

Glacial Ridge Scenic Byway

Chain of Lakes: Lakeside Color Views

Alexandria is blessed with an incredible chain of lakes, creating a picturesque setting to admire the vibrant fall colors. With over 350 lakes in the area, the Chain of Lakes is a haven for nature enthusiasts seeking breathtaking beauty. What better way to experience the fall foliage than from the peaceful waters of these interconnected lakes?

Whether you prefer the serenity of a boat or the comfort of a pontoon, exploring the Chain of Lakes offers a unique perspective on the seasonal transformation. As you glide across the water, you’ll witness the stunning reflections of the colorful foliage, creating a mesmerizing display of nature’s artistry.

Among the larger lakes in the chain, Lake Carlos, Lake Darling, Lake Le Homme Dieu, Lake Geneva, and Lake Victoria stand out for their picturesque views. These lakes, surrounded by dense forests and tranquil shores, provide the perfect backdrop for a relaxing day on the water.

Experience the autumnal charm of the Chain of Lakes:

  1. Embrace the tranquility and immerse yourself in the vibrant scenery.
  2. Capture beautiful photos of the fall colors reflecting off the pristine waters.
  3. Indulge in lakeside camping at one of the many campgrounds, allowing you to wake up to the stunning views every morning.
  4. Visit lakeside restaurants and boardwalks for a delicious meal with a view.
  5. Take a leisurely boat tour or rent a pontoon to fully explore the interconnected lakes.

“The Chain of Lakes is a hidden gem for fall foliage enthusiasts. The combination of colorful trees and shimmering waters creates a magical experience that you won’t soon forget.” – Local Resident

Fall colors reflecting on the tranquil waters of the Chain of Lakes

Lake Size Location Key Features
Lake Carlos 1,293 acres Northwest of Alexandria Scenic shoreline, fishing opportunities
Lake Darling 918 acres Southwest of Alexandria Pristine waters, sandy beaches, picnic areas
Lake Le Homme Dieu 1,790 acres West of Alexandria Ample recreational activities, popular fishing spot
Lake Geneva 635 acres East of Alexandria Peaceful surroundings, nature trails
Lake Victoria 419 acres East of Alexandria Excellent swimming, family-friendly atmosphere

Don’t miss the opportunity to discover the Chain of Lakes and witness the captivating fall colors from a truly unique perspective. Plan your visit today and immerse yourself in the natural beauty that surrounds Alexandria, Minnesota.

Kensington Runestone Park: A Historical Fall Experience

Step back in time and discover the fall colors at Kensington Runestone Park. This 304-acre park features wooded, gently rolling land with shelters for picnicking, outdoor game fields, and trails for hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding. As you explore the park’s hiking trails, you’ll be surrounded by beautiful sugar maple trees that showcase hues ranging from yellow to blaze red. The trails also lead to Star Lake, a secluded spot nestled within a dense forest, perfect for a peaceful canoe or kayak adventure. Don’t miss the opportunity to visit the actual discovery spot of the famous Kensington Runestone while taking in the beauty of the fall season.

Activities Highlights
Hiking Explore the park’s trails and experience the vibrant fall colors of the sugar maple trees.
Mountain Biking Ride through the wooded landscape and enjoy the changing foliage along the trails.
Horseback Riding Take a scenic horseback ride and immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the park.
Canoeing/Kayaking Discover the tranquil Star Lake and navigate its peaceful waters.

Whether you’re an outdoor enthusiast or a history lover, Kensington Runestone Park offers the perfect blend of natural beauty and historical intrigue. Experience the magic of the fall season as you explore the park’s diverse trails and immerse yourself in the vibrant colors of the sugar maple trees.

Inspiration Peak: A Panoramic View

For a stunning bird’s eye view of the fall colors, head to Inspiration Peak. Located 25 miles northwest of Alexandria, this peak rises 400 feet over the surrounding countryside, providing panoramic views of the colorful landscape. As one of the highest points in Minnesota, Inspiration Peak offers a breathtaking 20-mile circle of approximately 50 lakes scattered among fields and pastures. This is the perfect spot to take in the beauty of the fall season and capture memorable photos of the stunning Minnesota countryside.

At Inspiration Peak, you’ll find hiking trails that lead you through the picturesque scenery, allowing you to immerse yourself in the vibrant fall colors. As you ascend the peak, you’ll be rewarded with sweeping views of the surrounding valleys and lakes, showcasing the dramatic contrast of red, orange, and gold against a backdrop of evergreens.

Whether you’re an avid hiker or simply seeking a peaceful retreat, Inspiration Peak offers a serene escape into nature. The tranquil atmosphere, combined with the breathtaking views, make this a must-visit destination for nature enthusiasts and photographers alike. Don’t miss the opportunity to witness the magic of the fall season from the highest point in the area.


Can I go camping at the state parks near Alexandria, MN?

Yes, several state parks near Alexandria, MN offer camping options. Lake Carlos State Park and Chain of Lakes State Park are popular choices for lakeside camping. Make sure to check the park’s website or contact the park office for camping regulations and availability.

Are the state parks near Alexandria, MN family-friendly?

Absolutely! The state parks near Alexandria, MN are perfect for family outings. You can enjoy hiking, biking, picnicking, and even have a fun-filled day of boating on the Chain of Lakes. Many parks also offer playgrounds and nature-themed activities for kids.

Can I bring my dog to the state parks near Alexandria, MN?

Yes, most state parks near Alexandria, MN allow dogs on a leash in designated areas. However, each park may have specific rules and regulations regarding pets. Be sure to check the park’s website or contact the park office before bringing your furry friend along.

Are there any entrance fees for the state parks near Alexandria, MN?

Yes, there are entrance fees for some state parks near Alexandria, MN. These fees help support the maintenance and conservation efforts of the parks. The fees vary by park, so it’s best to check the park’s website or contact the park office for specific information on entrance fees.

Can I go fishing at the state parks near Alexandria, MN?

Yes, fishing is allowed in most state parks near Alexandria, MN. Several of the parks have lakes with a variety of fish species, including walleye, bass, and panfish. Make sure to familiarize yourself with the park’s fishing regulations and obtain the necessary fishing licenses before casting your line.

What is the best time to visit the state parks near Alexandria, MN?

The state parks near Alexandria, MN are beautiful year-round, but each season offers a unique experience. Fall is particularly stunning, with vibrant foliage and pleasant temperatures for outdoor activities. Spring and summer are ideal for boating, swimming, and picnicking, while winter offers opportunities for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.

Are there guided tours or interpretive programs available at the state parks near Alexandria, MN?

Yes, many state parks near Alexandria, MN offer guided tours and interpretive programs. These programs provide valuable insights into the park’s natural and cultural history. Check the park’s website or contact the park office for information on guided tours, nature walks, and other educational programs.

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