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Have you ever hear that half the fun is getting there? Trying to get to everything at Greenleaf Lake State Recreation area seemed like an equation for madness.
The MN State Parks Passport club includes State Recreation Areas. Unfortunately, this park doesn’t have a hiking club trail, just a view of the lake and a short trail. I made sure to pass by this park on my way from Monson Lake State Park.
Greenleaf Lake State Recreation Area
Greenleaf Lake State Recreations Area has an interesting history. Through community activism, the state legislatures approved it as a state recreation area.
The intention was to protect the natural shoreline. The problem was only a small area around the lake was available for purchase.
The state continued with the intention of adding land as it became available. The dream is to add camping, trails, mountain biking and so much more to the existing land.
Without the land and funds to manage it, they have kept the recreation area open for hunting and snowmobiling. There is also lake access and a small one-mile trail.
The original activists that helped to create Greenleaf Lake State Recreation Area are a little frustrated with the management of the area.
They were hoping that the MN DNR would develop recreational trails, camping, and other things planned out. It was even authorized as a State Park initially in 2003 but got demoted to a recreation area in 2007 because of lack of funding.
The following year, the DNR acquired Lake Vermilion Soudan Underground Mine as a State Park and poured tons into developing that park. If funding was a problem, why did they find it for Lake Vermillion?
Getting To Greenleaf Lake State Recreation Area
Finding Greenleaf Lake State Recreation Area was an adventure in itself. The park has a sign off the main road, saying ‘recreation area 1 mile down the road’.
Google on the other hand instructed me to keep going. With no other signs at the entrance of the park, I kept going. I circled the entire recreation area.
Along the way, I got to see the park from all sides, including viewing its neighboring lakes, Sioux Lake. There was a stunning display of swans on the lake.
Did you know Minnesota had swans? I thought they were a warm weather bird. Did they not get the message winter is coming?
Soon after it had me driving down a dirt road along the side of someone’s farm. The wet muddy road made me thankful I took my husband’s car.
Thankfully it never came to that. After getting to the end of the road, there was a nice sign saying bow and rifle hunting only. Never trust Google!
If you are following google maps, make sure you select the right Greenleaf Lake State Recreation Area entrance, they have two.
What get’s me more, is I even drove right by the entrance of the park. The turn is where the paved road, hits the dirt. Take a right. There is public water entrance, and trees lining both sides of the road.
Hiking at Greenleaf Lake State Recreation Area
Unfortunately, I faced the problem many hikers are facing at MN State Parks, they are closed for hunting.
To control the deer population, hunting is allowed in a bunch of state parks. They are marked on the websites to keep everyone safe.
The main trail that goes into the woods had a hunting notification sign on it. Even without other cars in the parking lot, I opted against hiking the trail. Instead, I enjoyed the lake views.
One thing that surprised me was the firepits and picnic areas located around the lakeshore. It looked like a fun spot for a picnic.
One thing I was hoping to find was the land bridge between the lakes. I think most people find it either by boat or by exploring off trails.
The Passport Stamp
Smaller State Parks and State Recreation areas often house their stamps offsite at nearby parks or at the MN DNR sites. Before leaving, the state park’s website let us know the stamp is off-site at the DNR.
They also posted the address on the sign at the park for visitors. Finding the DNR site was a challenge on its own.
After my troubles finding the park, I decided to put the address into google for exact directions. What could go wrong? I ended up at a church. The DNR Office is actually two blocks east at the intersection of Sioux Hills Road and Highway 7.
Would I go back?
Yes, I would go back when Greenleaf Lake State Recreation Area is more developed or I can explore on my own without the risk of getting injured by hunters.
I am excited to see what they end up doing with the area, even with the limited amount of land they have. According to the parks development plan, there are a lot of cool things that can come of it.