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Minnesota State Parks

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George Washington State Forest
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The George Washington State Forest in Minnesota is a serene and enchanting natural wonderland that spans over thousands of acres. Lush with towering trees, tranquil lakes, and shimmering streams, it offers a peaceful retreat for nature enthusiasts and outdoor adventurers alike. From its picturesque hiking trails that weave through rolling hills to its abundant wildlife, including deer, birds, and small mammals, this forest provides a haven for those seeking solace and connection with the natural world. With its breathtaking beauty and sense of serenity, the George Washington State Forest is truly a hidden gem in the heart of Minnesota.
History of the Area
George Washington State Forest is located in northern Minnesota and holds a significant historical and cultural significance in the region. Here is a brief overview of its history:

- The forest was first established in 1955 and named after the first President of the United States, George Washington. It covers an area of approximately 28,000 acres.
- Prior to the establishment of the state forest, this area was primarily used for logging and mining activities. The forest was created to preserve and manage the natural resources of the region, including timber and wildlife.
- Native American tribes, such as the Ojibwe, have a deep connection to the land and its resources. They relied on the forest for hunting, fishing, and gathering various plants and herbs.
- The forest also played a significant role in the fur trade era during the 18th and 19th centuries. European traders established trading posts in the surrounding areas, engaging in commerce with Native American tribes for furs and other goods.
- In the early 20th century, the region experienced a boom in the timber industry, leading to extensive logging operations in the area. The establishment of the state forest aimed to protect the remaining forests and ensure sustainable timber practices.
- Today, George Washington State Forest is managed by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR). It offers recreational activities such as hiking, camping, hunting, and fishing. The forest is also home to various wildlife species, including white-tailed deer, black bears, timber wolves, and various bird species.

George Washington State Forest has a rich history tied to the Native American presence, early European settlement, and the timber industry, making it an important natural and cultural resource in northern Minnesota.
1. McCarthy Beach State Park: This park offers 93 drive-in campsites, including some with electricity and others that are non-electric.

2. Scenic State Park: Located on the edge of George Washington Forest, this state park has more than 90 camping sites available for tents or RVs as well as a group campsite.

3. Big Fork River Campground: A rustic campground located within the forest itself offering tent-only primitive camping spots along the riverbank.

4. Chippewa National Forest Campgrounds: Although not directly in George Washington State Forest, it's nearby and provides several different campgrounds to choose from such as Norway Beach Recreation Area which includes four individual campgrounds - Cass Lake Loop (23 sites), Knutson Dam (25 Sites), Norway Loop (32 Sites) & Chippewa Loop(46).

5. Bear Head Lake State Park: Another option just outside of GWSF is Bear Head lake state park where you can find over seventy-five family-friendly campsites plus one guesthouse.

6. Backcountry Camping: For those who prefer solitude there are numerous backcountry dispersed camping options throughout GWSF but remember these do not offer any amenities like toilets or water supply so come prepared!

7. Savanna Portage State Park: It's about an hour away from GWSF but worth considering if you want access to fishing lakes and hiking trails while also having modern facilities at your disposal.
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George Washington State Forest is

1. Lost Forty Trail: This 1-mile self-guided interpretive trail takes hikers through a stand of virgin red and white pine trees that have been untouched for over 300 years.

2. Cut Foot Sioux Recreation Area Trails: These trails offer an easy to moderate hiking experience, with several loops ranging from less than one mile up to four miles in length. They wind through mixed hardwoods and pines along the shores of Little Cut Foot Sioux Lake.

3. Simpson Creek Trail System: A network of interconnected loop trails totaling about eight miles, these paths are perfect for day hikes or backpacking trips as they traverse various terrains including forests, wetlands, ridges and valleys within George Washington State Forest boundaries.

4. Suomi Hills Semi-Primitive Non-Motorized Area Trails: Comprising around nineteen kilometers (12 mi), this series offers challenging terrain featuring rolling hills covered by mature maple-basswood forest interspersed with marshes & ponds teeming wildlife species like deer & waterfowl; also includes scenic overlook spots offering panoramic views across surrounding landscapes.

5. Trout Lake Conifer Hardwoods SNA Hiking Route: Located near Bovey city limits on state's northeastern side; features approximately two-kilometer long pathway leading towards pristine lake surrounded by dense conifers providing excellent bird-watching opportunities.

6. Joyce Estate Historic Site Walking Pathway: Short yet fascinating route taking visitors past remnants old log cabins once part grand estate owned wealthy Chicago family during early twentieth century era now managed National Park Service preserving unique cultural heritage site amidst natural wilderness setting.

7. Scenic State Park Loop Trial: Approximately five kilometer-long circuitous path winding its way alongside Coon Sandwick Lakes showcasing breathtaking vistas encompassing sparkling waters set against backdrop towering Norway Pines plus variety other native tree varieties such black spruce balsam fir etc. , ideal spot photography enthusiasts nature lovers alike.

8. Edge Of Wilderness National Scenic Byway: Although primarily designed for motorists, this 47-mile route also includes numerous hiking trails branching off main road leading towards secluded spots offering stunning views over pristine lakes and dense forests.

9. Cut Foot Sioux Horse Camp Trails: These multi-use trails are open to hikers as well as horse riders, with a total of about 25 miles of paths through the forested landscape.

10. Link Lake Trail: This moderately difficult trail stretches around three kilometers (1. 8 mi), taking you across diverse terrains including wetlands & hardwoods before culminating at serene lake ideal spot picnicking or simply relaxing amidst nature's bounty.

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1. Start by heading north on Interstate 35 from Minneapolis.
2. Continue driving for approximately 100 miles until you reach exit 237 for MN:210 towards Cromwell/Wright/Pine City.
3. Take the exit and merge onto MN:210 East.
4. Follow MN:210 East for about 20 miles until you arrive at Wright, where there will be signs directing you to turn left onto County Road 5/Big Lake Rd.
5. Turn left onto County Road 5/Big Lake Rd and continue driving for around half a mile before turning right to stay on Big Lake Rd (County Road).
6. Continue straight on Big lake road( county rd)for another two miles then take slight right toward Co Hwy19 N.
7. Turn slightly right ontoco hwy19N after .8miles make sharpleftonto coHw21n.
9. Drive along Co HWY21 n till your destination.

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Minnesota State Parks