Things to do at Hayes Lake

Things to do at Hayes Lake State Park in Northern MN

When someone mentioned Northern Minnesota, the first thing that comes to mind is large forests and fresh air. Hayes Lake State Park fits the bill perfectly with its pristine forests and stunning lakeside trails.

There are tons of areas to explore and things to do at Hayes Lake State Park; you will want to plan more than a quick trip here.

Hayes Lake State Park was one of those stops I didn’t know I needed. After venturing north into some completely unknown territory, our northern loop adventure had us mostly in farmland.

It was not at all what I anticipated. Roseau County is where things start to change. As soon as we pulled into Hayes Lake, I knew I was in the right place.

We had found the woods and breathing in the fresh pine smell had me right at home. The park road is lined with tall trees.

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The beginnings of Hayes Lake State Park

This Minnesota State Park was created out of the need to add another state park to northern Minnesota. In the late 1960s the state was looking for a new place to put one.

They already own some of the lands there. They decided the area next to the Roseau River would be perfect, especially because of the wetlands.

Once the decision was made, they went to work creating other elements, including an artificial lake. The park is named after an early settler, A.F. Hayes.

Hayes Lake State Park Pine Trees

Things to do at Hayes Lake State Park

The Hayes Lake State Park Hiking Club Trail

Miles: 2 miles
Difficulty: Easy
Total Miles Hiked: 127.6 miles

The Pine Loop Trails, also known as the Hiking Club Trail, has many entry points. Either at the beach, the boat launch, or at the campground. All loop through some of the best smelling pine forests you’ll ever walk through.

For me, hiking is an experience that should use all of your senses. Sent is one of those senses that holds a special place in your memory.

When you get a whiff of that sent it brings you right back to that location. Instantly I was filled with all the scents from my childhood and exploring different State Forests.

The hiking trail takes you through some of the best parts of the park. My favorite about the pine loop trail was getting walking along Hayes Lake.

There are a couple of good overlooks, like Beauty Bay and Grefthen Bay. It is the quintessential north woods location.

Don’t forget to download your Hayes Lake State Park Map before you get there. The Internet is seriously non-existent. We had a lot of trouble even getting Google Maps to get us there. Avanza has a free map you can download and use offline. It utilizes GPS for connection.

Hayes Lake State Park Hiking Club Trail
Hayes Lake State Park Hiking Club Password

Hayes Lake State Park Bog Walk

Walk on the wooden boardwalk that winds through the park’s swamp. This isn’t your traditional bog, as this one is surrounded by tall forests. Keep an eye out for plans like the sundew, pitcher plant, and lady’s slippers.

This unique area was created when Glacial Lake Agassiz retreated, leaving behind a large, flat landscape. Drainage in these areas was very poor, and the water table remained high.

As a result, hundreds of square miles of land, from the park eastward, developed into muskeg and bog communities. Interpretive panels along the boardwalk tell more about this unique habitat.

Near the campground is a small trail leading down to the bog. This bog walk is a short little jaunt straight into the state forest. This detour is worth checking along the hiking club trail.

Hayes Lake State Park Bog Trail
Hayes Lake Boardwalk

Fishing at Hayes Lake State Park

Hayes Lake is very secluded, making it a quiet lake to enjoy. They limit boats to only electric motors to keep the noise down. It’s an edition I greatly value.

The lake is stocked with northern pike, crappie, and sunfish. If you don’t want to boat, you can also fish at the pier located by the dock. Canoe and Kayak rentals are available.

Fish For Free in Minnesota State Parks
Did you know if you have a Minnesota driver’s license you can fish for free in Minnesota State Parks? The only expectation is if the body of water requires a trout stamp, or if you are in a Recreation Area. To fish for free you must be:

1. Fishing from shore or wading in water within the state park; or
2. Fishing through the ice, from a boat or a float on a designated lake that is completely encompassed within a Minnesota state park.

Click here for the official statue.

Fishing at Hayes Lake State Park

Swimming at Hayes Lake Beach

Hayes Lake’s pristine waters make for an ideal spot to go swimming. The beach has a sandy bottom and is a great retreat.

The beach area is a great location, with plenty of green space to have a picnic. There is also a large picnic shelter for larger gatherings.

Hayes Lake State Park Beach

Camping at Hayles Lake State Park

The campground had 35 sites, 18 electric, along with some walk-in sites. The sites are surrounded by old-growth tree trunks and carpeted in pine needles.

I would defiantly recommend staying there to anyone in the area. Most of the sites support hammock camping as well.

Camping not your thing? Consider staying in the nearby town of Roseau. There is a great selection of logging, but my favorite is the AmericInn by Wyndham. They have a beautiful pool the family will love! Find the best rates by clicking here.

Hayes Dam Area

One of the first things created when the park officially was declared was the Dam. The dam was formed on the Roseau River to create a lake. This part of the state is a void of lakes, making it popular with the locals.

First Homestead

In the early 1900s, the first homestead was established in what is now the western portion of the park. The family graves of this first homesteader, Alva Hendershot, are found along the trail starting to the northwest of the dam.

Farther down the trail, past the grave sites, are the remains of the original homestead and farm.

Picnic Location

A testament to how buggy things can get up north, the picnic shelter is screened-in. The shelter has electricity and is reservable. Beyond the picnic shelters is a grassy area with open picnic tables, fire rings, and swings.


There are five miles of mountain biking trails within the park. Starting at the Hayes Lake Dam, take the Moose Ridge Trail along the southern portion of the lake and stream.

First Homestead

In the early 1900s, the first homestead was established in what is now the western portion of the park. The family graves of this first homesteader, Alva Hendershot, are found along the trail starting to the northwest of the dam. Farther down the trail, past the grave sites, are the remains of the original homestead and farm.

Other things to do near Hayes Lake State Park

The town of Roseau is just north of Hayes Lake State Park. This small town has a few fun things you’ll want to check out. Earls Drive-in is a great place to score some lunch or dinner. Get there early because parking is limited.

Love all things Polaris? Did you know Polaris snowmobiles and other vehicles are made in this small town in Minnesota? They usually give factory tours during the week.

They also run a free museum celebrating their legacy. It’s a short exhibit but a fun stop.

You can also peek through a historic Pioneer Farm. It’s on the west side of town at the rest stop. During the holidays the Lions Club lights, up Pioneer Farm as a fun-lighted experience.

How much does it cost to get into Hayes Lake 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 to Hayes Lake State Park?

Yes, Hayes Lake State Park is beautiful. There were so many places to explore. What I loved, even during the middle of summer, the bugs were minimal. The Park has a good mix of trails, camping, and quiet times, all to feel like you escaped.

There are plenty of things to do at Hayes Lake State Park and the surrounding community to spend a weekend there. You should check it out if you get a chance.

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