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Sibley State Park is one of Minnesota’s most popular parks. There are many different activities to do at the park year-round. Camping, swimming, fishing, and cross-country skiing are all popular in the winter months while hiking and picnicking are common in the warmer months.
Sibley State Park In New London Minnesota
Located in New London in west-central Minnesota, it is close enough to the Twin Cities to make it a day trip, but with so many fun things to do at Sibley State Park, you can easily spend a week there exploring.
I first crossed paths with Sibley State Park last year over Black Friday. It’s one of a few times of year the state parks are all free to enter. I had just stopped at Glacial Lakes State Park and Monson Lake State Park and was on my way home when I saw the sign.
If it wasn’t going to be another 4 miles on top of the 6 miles we already did, I may have stopped. I’m glad I didn’t stop because there is so much to see and do there. It wouldn’t have been fair to the park. Instead, I decided to save it for my Black Friday hike of 2021.
Sibley State Park Hiking Trails
Miles: 4 miles
Total Miles Hiked: 161.8 miles
There are lots of great hiking trails in the park, more than I’ve seen lately. The primary hiking trail is the Hiking Club Trail. This does the largest loop around the park.
You can access the trail near the Mount Tom parking area. From there, take the trail around up and down the many hills. There were so many hills, my Fitbit told me I hit a new milestone, 75 flights of stairs. I was defiantly feeling it too.
What I loved about the hiking club trail is that it took you through some of the best areas of the park. You got to see both Mount Tom and Little Mount Tom, as well as the interpretive trail and beach area.
** Pro Tip, on the more challenging hiking club hikes, wait until later fall to complete them. November is amazing because it’s always cool, with no mosquitos and as a bonus, no one hikes then, so you have the trail to yourself.
It’s before the snow falls so you don’t have to worry about trails closed for Skiers. Before you leave, make sure to check online to confirm there is no hunting that weekend. And always wear some blaze orange just in case.
If you are looking for a shorter, less strenuous hike, take the paved lakeside trails. They are both flat and even terrain. You can also do the interpretive trial.
Sibley State Park Swimming Beach
The most impressive piece of the park I found was the beach. It was sandy, with plenty of space to spread out. The facilities there were nice. They even had a deck area so you could enjoy the view without getting sandy.
The ice was just starting to form when we arrived, but I could see already imagine the beautiful beach sunsets from here.
Near the beach are a volleyball court, playground, and picnic area.
Canoeing at Sibley State Park
At Sibley State Park, you can enjoy canoeing on lakes like Andrew Lake, Swan Lake, and Henschien Lake. Both Swan Lake and Henschine lake have a route invites adventurers to portage and canoe.
Camping at Sibley State Park
Sibley State Park has 131 campsites and additional cabins to rent. You can stay at either the Lakeview Campground or Oak Ridge Campground. The most popular is Lakeview.
The campsites have plenty of trees to give shade. The campground gives visitors the easiest access to Lake Andrew. The lake views are obstructed by brush.
I do like that the parks have a walking path between the lake and any sites, making it accessible to everyone.
Make sure to go into the visitor center. They have an extensive one focusing on the wetlands, geology, and terrestrial features of the park.
In winter, it’s used as a warming house. Outside the interpretive center is a wood deck with telescopes overlooking a small pond.
Which Activities are Open Year Round?
With it now being winter, I wanted to touch on a few of the fun things to do that can be done year-round. Camping is always open, plus the park offers camper cabin rentals.
The trails are all groomed and maintained in the winter for a few different types of winter activities. You can Ski, Skate Ski, Hike, Snowshoe, and Snowmobile along the trails. If you are looking for the hiking club password, it is still accessible. You can also horseback ride on certain trails.
What’s the History of Sibley State Park?
The park’s many hills were formed over the last four ice ages. The glacial drifts caused much of the landscape you see today. Before Europeans came, the Dakota Indians camped and held councils at the top of Mount Tom.
In 1916, Peter Broberg, proposed making an MN State Park out of the Lake Andrew – Mount Tom area. First thought of as a game reserve, it officially became a state park in 1919.
It was named after the state’s first Governor, Henry Sibley. In 1935 the federal government sent the Veterans Conservation Corps to the park. It took 3 years and 200 men to create the buildings and trails within the park.
When is the Best Time To Go?
There is never one best time to go to any Minnesota State Park. Depending on the activity you planning, there are optimal times.
With Sibley State Park having options for winter and summer fun, you really can’t miss it. If you are planning a lot of hiking, Fall is the best. Just a personal option though.
How Much Does it Cost?
All Minnesota State Parks are free with an annual permit. You can buy them in person or online for $35. If you are planning to visit for the day, expect to pay around $7. Throughout the year, there are a few free days and other discounts you can check out too.
Camping costs anywhere from $25-35 a night.
Pro Tip: Visit any State Park during one of their free days. Check out Minnesota State Park Pass Hacks, Tips, and Free Days to find all the days
Would I go back to Sibley State Park?
This is one of the parks I’m bummed I haven’t camped at yet. There are so many areas of the park to explore, it’s hard to do it all in one day.
I want to dip my toes in the water, feel the warm sun on my face and see a few of the hidden locations in the park. I will definitely be back to Sibley State Park for more things to do.