Lake Bemidji State Park is one of those rare Minnesota State Parks that allows visitors to do almost anything they want to do in the outdoors.
This Minnesota State Park is not only a place to visit but also a place to stay. There are the best things to do a Lake Bemidji State Park like fishing, camping, canoeing, and ice fishing.
With a long weekend at Itasca State Park to see the headwaters of the Mississippi River, we decided to do a quick detour to the neighboring LaSalle Lake State Recreation Area and Lake Bemidji State Park.
They have some great things to do up there, like see the lake and do the Bog Walk. What surprised me was all the other things to do at Lake Bemidji State Park.
The beginning of Lake Bemidji State Park
Lake Bemidji was used for hundreds of years by the Dakota who fished its waters and hunted nearby. Early trader records called the lake “Lac Traverse” which is French for diagonal.
This was because the Mississippi River cut diagonally through the lake. Lake Europeans arrived and started logging the white and Norway pines. A few areas within the park were untouched when the state purchased the land and created the park in 1923.
Things to do at Lake Bemidji State Park!
The Lake Bemidji State Park Hiking Club Trail
Miles: 2 miles
Total Miles Hiked: 152.2 miles
The perfect hike for a family is the Lake Bemidji State Park hiking club trail. This easy 2 mile hike is perfect for families because it’s not too long or difficult to complete, but it provides plenty of scenery and opportunities to get up close and personal with nature.
Lake Bemidji State Park’s hiking club trail is a great example of taking you through some of the best parts of the park. You’ll get to see the tall pine trees, and onto the bog walk. More on that later.
The hiking trail is made of crushed gravel and packed dirt. It’s well-traveled, so get there early if you can.
There is a parking lot near the trailhead, by Aspen Lane. The lot is off the main road, no need to drive through the campground road we did.
Do you have your Lake Bemidji State Park Map yet? Avenza offers free GeoPDF maps that track your location on the trail. This way you never get lost. I use them on all my adventures, plus you don’t need the internet if you download them before you leave!
The conifer bog walk is a loop trail that begins and ends at the Bog Trailhead on the south side of Big Bog Lake. The hike is fairly easy with just one steep hill.
The trail follows the ridges of low hills overlooking the lake. After turning off the main hiking trail, onto the bog area, you’ll immediately get to the boardwalk.
This is a one-way boardwalk, with interpretive signs pointing out some of the more interesting plant life.
The plant life in this area is diverse, but some common plants found along the trail are pitcher plants, dragon’s mouth, grass pink, and insect-eating sundews.
This area is a popular spot to see deer, porcupines, squirrels, and chipmunks and even spot the occasional black bear.
At the end of the boardwalk is Big Bog Lake. There you’ll do a quick loop around before heading back to the trail.
Lake Bemidji is a premier recreational destination. With over 800 acres of water, this lake is great for a variety of fishing, swimming, and canoeing opportunities. Kayaks and Canoes can be rented from the park office.
The lake has a vast shoreline and is perfect for long walks, picnics near the beach, or a swim at the sandy beach. In the winter, the frozen surface has been made into an ice rink for ice skating. It’s also a great destination for ice fishing.
When we were there, the weather was looking to turn on us and the waves were a little choppy. I kept thinking about the people that canoe the full length of the Mississippi and how hard it must be to cross this body. I’ve spent time on big water in the BWCA and know how challenging it can be.
When I was reading Mississippi Solo, the inexperienced canoer almost stopped his journey right here because of the challenges he faces on this lake. If you’d like to learn more, I defiantly recommend reading this book.
Paul Bunyan State Trail
Don’t forget your bike. The Paul Bunyan State Trail runs through the park and is a great way to see more of the area.
The multi-purpose trail follows the bed of an abandoned railroad. It starts in Brainerd in Crow Wing State Park and ends 120 miles later in Bemidji.
It is the longest of Minnesota’s state trails and the longest continuously paved rail trail in the country. If you are looking to keep going further north, the trail connects to the Blue Ox Trail, an unpaved motorized trail for snowmobiling that extends to International Falls.
What I love about the bike trail is that it hugs the lakeside, making it ideal for guests of the park to get a stroll in before starting up their campfires. Or just as a way to see more of the lake.
This is one of a few MN State Parks that rent bikes to visitors. Check at the park office for more information.
Rock Point Overlook
With its spectacular view high over Lake Bemidji, Rocky Point is one of the most popular destinations in the park.
The Rocky Point Trail runs along the lakeshore, gaining in elevation as it rises to the bluff.
Visitors will enjoy the observation deck with its exhibits and benches. Bicyclists looping the lake often pause for a break here and take in the view.
Sundew Pond Overlook
Sundew Pond is a quiet sanctuary not far off the Paul Bunyan State Trail. Bald eagles nest on the far side of this large beaver pond, so keep a watchful eye on both the sky and the water. The overlook is an easy walk or bike from the lake.
Lake Bemidji State Park has plenty of camping opportunities for its visitors. On a weekend in late August, the place was filled to capacity with guests staying the night.
The campground makes use of all its space. One thing I liked was the Cabin section of the park.
It had its own secluded area that felt like you were staying at a resort and not a traditional campground.
What if I don’t want to camp? I gotcha covered. With three state parks so close together, you could easily stay in Bemidji and do them all in a weekend. Book your stay at the Hampton Bay Bemidji today. They have multiple pools, and hot tubs plus nearby downtown for great dining options!
Questions most asked about Lake Bemidji State Park
When Is The Best Time to Visit?
Lake Bemidji State Park has things going on year-round. Because of the great trail systems, you can visit during winter and have just as much fun.
Camping is still open, groomed skiing, trails and snowmobiling are all available. They even have limited hiking opportunities. I recommend visiting during the week and on nonpeak times.
Does Lake Bemidji State Park have Wifi?
Yes, this is one of four MN State parks where there is free WiFi. As a bonus, this park has WiFi in the campground and Visitors Center.
How Much Does it Cost to Visit Lake Bemidji State Park?
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 back to Lake Bemidji State Park?
Yes, I would. I enjoyed it a lot. My only complaint about the park was its popularity. Going during winter or during the week would have helped my comfort level a lot.
In the short time, we were there, we saw a lot, but there is so much more to see and do, you should really devote a whole weekend and do all the fun things to do at Lake Bemidji State Park. Its position near downtown Bemidji and one of the state’s Pual Bunyan statues makes it a great location.