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Minnesota State Parks

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Saint Croix State Forest
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The Saint Croix State Forest, located in Minnesota, is a captivating natural refuge that encompasses over 34,000 acres of pristine wilderness. This enchanting forest is known for its abundant diversity of flora and fauna, with towering pine trees, shimmering lakes, and meandering rivers that create a picturesque landscape. With its serene atmosphere, the forest provides various opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts to indulge in activities like hiking, fishing, camping, and wildlife spotting. The Saint Croix State Forest offers a perfect retreat for nature lovers, inviting them to immerse themselves in its tranquil ambiance and bask in the beauty of its untouched surroundings.
History of the Area
Saint Croix State Forest is located in eastern Minnesota, spanning parts of Pine County and Carlton County. It covers an area of approximately 37,893 acres and serves as an important recreational and natural resource for the region.

The history of the Saint Croix State Forest can be traced back to the early 1900s when the area was heavily logged for its timber resources. This led to a significant loss of forests and wildlife habitats in the region. In response to this, the Minnesota State Legislature passed the Minnesota Forest Management Act in 1925, which aimed to establish state forests for the sustainable management and conservation of forest resources.

In the 1930s, during the Great Depression era, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) played a crucial role in the development of the Saint Croix State Forest. CCC camps were established in the forest, providing employment to young men and helping to restore the damaged landscape. The CCC workers were involved in various projects like reforestation, building roads, trails, fire towers, cabins, and other infrastructure within the forest.

In 1945, the state forest officially became the Saint Croix State Forest, named after the nearby Saint Croix River, which forms a part of the border between Minnesota and Wisconsin. Over the years, the forest has been managed for sustainable timber harvesting, wildlife conservation, recreation, and environmental education.

Saint Croix State Forest offers a wide range of recreational opportunities for visitors, including hiking, camping, fishing, hunting, and nature observation. It also features several trails, picnic areas, and campsites for the enjoyment of outdoor enthusiasts. The forest is home to diverse wildlife, including white-tailed deer, black bears, wolves, and various bird species.
1. St. Croix State Forest Campground: This campground offers 25 campsites, each with a fire ring and picnic table.

2. Tamarack Horse Camp: Located within the forest, this camp is designed for horseback riders but also welcomes other visitors who want to enjoy camping in nature.

3. Norway Point Group Campsite: A group site that can accommodate up to 50 people at once making it perfect for large gatherings or family reunions.

4. Hay Creek Day Use Area & Picnic Site: While not technically a campground, you're allowed overnight stays here if you have an RV or camper van as there are no tent sites available.

5. Pine County Park Camping Grounds: Just outside of Saint Croix State Forest offering both primitive and modern amenities including electricity hookups.

6. Wild River State Park: Situated on the border of Saint Croix National Scenic Riverway providing opportunities for fishing, canoeing along with hiking trails.

7. Chengwatana state forest: Another nearby option which provides dispersed camping options where one could set up their tents anywhere they find suitable away from developed recreation areas.
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1. Tamarack Nature Trail: This is a self-guided, 3/4-mile trail that winds through the diverse ecosystems of Saint Croix State Forest including wetlands and hardwood forests.

2. Yellow Birch Trail: A moderate difficulty level hiking path stretching over two miles, this trail offers beautiful views of yellow birch trees along with other native flora and fauna.

3. Pine Plantation Loop: An easy-to-moderate three mile loop featuring towering pine plantations which provide excellent bird-watching opportunities for hikers throughout all seasons.

4. Fire Tower Hiking Pathway: Known as one of the most challenging trails in St. Croix forest due to its steep inclines leading up to an old fire tower providing panoramic views across Minnesota's landscapes from atop it.

5. River View Ridge Trails: These are multiple interconnected paths running alongside the scenic river banks offering stunning water vistas while exploring different terrains like meadows, woodlands etc. , .

6. Red Oak Run: It's a four-mile long route passing through dense red oak groves where visitors can enjoy fall foliage during autumn season or spot wildlife such as deer or foxes year-round.

7. Bear Paw Footpath: Named after bear paw prints often spotted on this pathway; it covers around five miles traversing both flat lands & hillsides making it suitable for intermediate-level trekkers looking forward to varied topography experience within same hike session.

8. White Pines Walkabout: As name suggests, you get close encounters with white pines standing tall amidst mixed deciduous-coniferous woods here ; total distance covered under round trip would be approximately six miles.

9. Spruce Swamp Saunter: Ideal choice if interested in studying swampy ecosystem closely since large part involves walking next swamps filled spruces plus variety marsh plants / animals ; lengthwise measures about seven-eight kilometers depending upon exact starting point chosen by individuals.

10. Maple Leaf Trail: A 2. 5-mile trail that loops through a maple forest, providing beautiful views in the fall when leaves change color.

11. Cedar Creek Hiking Path: This is an eight mile long rugged path following along the banks of Cedar creek offering hikers opportunities to spot various waterfowl and beavers.

12. Blueberry Bluff Trails: These are series short trails totaling around three miles length, each leading up different bluff overlooking vast expanses Saint Croix State Forest ; besides panoramic vistas , also known for wild blueberries growing abundantly on these bluffs during summer months.

13. Aspen Alley Adventure: An adventurous nine mile trek taking you deep into aspen groves where one can enjoy serene solitude amidst nature's bounty; ideal choice if seeking longer hikes away from usual crowd routes within park premises.

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Area Campgrounds
Two Creeks Campground
62399 Duxbury Road
Sandstone, MN
St. Croix Haven Campground
40756 Grace Lake Road
Hinckley, MN

Saint Croix State Forest is located in east-central Minnesota, about 90 miles north of the Twin Cities. To get there from Minneapolis or St. Paul, follow I-35 North for approximately 65 miles until you reach Pine City.

Once you arrive in Pine City, take Exit 171 and merge onto MN-70 East towards Hinckley/Siren. Continue on this road for about 12 miles until you reach the town of Rock Creek.

In Rock Creek, turn left onto County Road 32/County Highway D and continue driving for another mile before turning right to stay on County Road 32/County Highway D.

Follow this road as it winds through scenic rural areas for approximately six more miles until you see signs indicating the entrance to Saint Croix State Forest on your left-hand side.

Upon entering the forest area, keep an eye out for signage directing visitors to various recreational sites within its boundaries such as campgrounds or hiking trails depending on your desired destination within Saint Croix State Forest.

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Minnesota State Parks