Some of the state’s most impressive parks, protected lands and recreation areas can be found in the Leech Lake Area. From Itasca State Park where the Mississippi begins, to the Chippewa National Forest with its large population of nesting bald eagles (the largest population of nesting bald eagles in the lower 48 states), to the Shingobee Recreation Area and its “Little Grand Canyon” you’ll find adventure in all sizes and all attitudes all year ’round.
Itasca State Park
Established in 1891, Itasca is Minnesota’s oldest state park. Today, the park totals more than 32,000 acres and includes more than 100 lakes. Walk across the mighty Mississippi as it starts its winding journey 2,552 miles to the Gulf of Mexico. Stand under towering pines at Preacher’s Grove. Visit the Itasca Indian Cemetery or Wegmann’s Cabin, landmarks of centuries gone by. Camp under the stars, or stay the night at the historic Douglas Lodge or cabins. Explore Wilderness Drive past the 2,000-acre Wilderness Sanctuary, one of Minnesota’s seven National Natural Landmarks.
Shingobee Recreation Area
A roller coaster course passing nest to the Shingobee River and a section of the North Country Trail. Shingobee Recreational Area is a multi-purpose trail system where cross-country ski trails are converted to mountain biking and hiking trails during the summer. Shingobee is located near two other trails: the Heartland Bike Trail, a converted railroad grade about 1 mile to the northeast, and the North Country Trail (NCT).