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McCarthy Beach State Park
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Roasting hot dogs over an open fire.
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7622 McCarthy Beach Road
Side Lake, Minnesota   55781

Phone: 218-254-7979
Toll Free: 888-646-6367
Reservations: 866-857-2757
Email: park email button icon
Come to McCarthy Beach State Park and you'll remember the lakes. Dig your toes into the sandy beach on Sturgeon Lake, rated one of the top 17 beaches in North America by Highways' Magazine. Launch a boat to explore Side Lake and the four connected lakes of the Sturgeon chain. Hikers, cross-country skiers, and snowmobilers enjoy the scenic trails winding through stands of large red and white pines. For longer ventures, head out on the Taconite Trail for access to hundreds of miles of additional trails.
Nature of the Area
For the folks who can tear themselves away from the beauty and comfort of the park's sandy beach, the rolling hills and valleys of McCarthy Beach State Park offer visitors a variety of terrain to hike and explore. The park protects a northern boreal forest with stands of red and white pine and leatherleaf-black spruce lowlands.

The glaciers that moved through the area gouged and tore at the bedrock, the cooled lava of ancient volcanoes. During that period, glaciers flowed south, retreated north, and flowed south again. The first glacier stopped where McCarthy Beach is now located. It left low rolling hills with steep sides called moraines. Between the hills, the glaciers gouged valleys and in the larger valleys, lakes were formed. Trails from the beach lead visitors along the ridge tops of the park's morraines. From these vistas, visitors can imagine the titanic forces that moved and shaped the region.

The park's hills and trails allow for excellent opportunities to watch the birds and animals at McCarthy Beach State Park. More than 175 species of birds visit the area and visitors are treated to sights of loons gliding on the lakes and great blue herons stalking small fish in the shallows. Thirty-three species of wildlife inhabit the park including white-tailed deer, black bear, timber wolves, chipmunks, red squirrels, raccoons, and several species of reptiles and amphibians.
History of the Area
When the first settlers arrived more than 100 years ago, giant red and white pines reached as far as the eye could see. These old giants attracted loggers to the Sturgeon Lake area and it was not long before the first sawmill was built at the townsite of Hibbing. Wood from the mill built this booming mining town. In 1895, the Swan River Logging Company built a railroad to Sturgeon Lake. The railroad hauled logs to the Swan River where they were floated down the Mississippi River to Minneapolis sawmills. Over the years, the area became a popular picnic and tenting ground for people from the Iron Range. When the property owner John A. McCarthy died in 1943, his daughter sold the land to a lumberman. Local citizens became concerned about the fate of the timber and were able to persuade the new owner to sell the land. Locals raised some of the money to finance the sale. By matching local money with state money the land was purchased and became a state park in 1945.
1. McCarthy Beach State Park offers a sandy beach for swimming on Sturgeon Lake.
2. The lake is rated as one of Minnesota's top beaches by the Star Tribune.
3. Lifeguards are not provided, so swimmers should exercise caution and supervise children closely.
4. Swimming areas are marked with buoys to ensure safety from boating activities in other parts of the lake.
5. Changing rooms and restrooms facilities near the beach offer convenience for swimmers.
6. The park also provides picnic tables nearby where you can enjoy meals after swimming sessions.

The park offers a variety of boating options for visitors. There are two boat ramps available, one on Sturgeon Lake and another on Side Lake, providing easy access to the water. Canoeing is also popular with several routes accessible from within the park itself including through four connected lakes in addition to Sturgeon River canoe route that starts at Side lake campground. Motorized boats are allowed but their speed must be kept under slow-no wake speeds near shorelines or designated swimming areas.
Enjoy fishing in two lakes, Side Lake and Sturgeon Lake. Species include Northern Pike, Walleye, Smallmouth Bass and Bluegill.

The park offers boat access for anglers on both bodies of water.

Ice fishing is popular during winter months with shelters available to rent.

Fishing equipment can be borrowed at no cost from the park office if needed.

McCarthy Beach State Park is

1. McCarthy Beach State Park offers numerous picnic tables and grills for a perfect outdoor meal.
2. Visitors can enjoy picnicking by the beautiful Sturgeon Lake, offering stunning views.
3. The park provides covered pavilions ideal for group gatherings or family outings.
4. Picnic spots are surrounded by nature trails, providing opportunities to explore after eating.

Biking enthusiasts can explore over 18 miles of trails, but be aware they are shared with hikers.

The Mesabi Trail offers a paved path for cyclists; however, it's not located within the park boundaries.

For mountain bikers seeking challenge and adventure, there is an off-road trail available too.

Be cautious as some paths may have steep inclines or rough terrains that require advanced biking skills.

Remember to wear safety gear at all times due to potential hazards on these routes.

In winter months, cycling options become limited because of snowfall so always check conditions beforehand.
Birdwatchers can enjoy spotting over 175 bird species, including warblers and loons. The park also offers guided birding tours.

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Nearby Hotels

From the town of Hibbing, take U.S. Highway 169 north to County Road 5, then 16 miles to the park.

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Minnesota State Parks