Big Bog Walk at Lake Bemidji State Park

Adventure through a unique ecosystem along a boardwalk wonderland hidden in a northern Minnesota state park. A hike on this trail gives visitors a view of a seldom seen environment.

In the northern reaches of Minnesota, on the historic Lake Bemidji, sits Lake Bemidji State Park. Inside this park, there is a trail that leads through a mystical swamp that is home to so many plants found in Northern Minnesota.

Distance: 2.5 miles, out and back

Level: Easy

Time to go: Open year-round, spring and summer are best for flowers

Dog Friendly: Yes, tight passing areas on the boardwalk

Fees: Daily ($7)/Seasonal MN State Park Pass ($35)


Lake Bemidji SP is on the northern side of Lake Bemidji. There are clear signs to the park and a great big sign on the right side of the State Park Road NE that greets visitors. After getting to the State Park, grab a map and head to the left of the visitors center. There is clear signage throughout the park. The Parking area is immediately after the campground.

Trailhead & Road Crossing

The trail head is shared with two other trails. There will also be signs for the old logging road. These trail will all split off later. There are also spurs that lead off of this trail. To get to the Bog Trail, hikers must keep to the main trail until after the road crossing. The trail travels across the Birchmont Beach Road. At the time of our visit, this road was torn up and under construction.

Stay Right

Immediately after crossing the road, the trail splits in 3. Keep right. There is a large sign with a map to indicate which trail to take. After about half a mile, there will be another right. Again, there is clear signage for these trails. At the beginning of this spur there is a vaulted toilet, a great opportunity to relieve oneself before venturing into the bog. There is no other chance to use a restroom until returning to this spot.

For a longer hike, hikers can take the Old Logging Road Trail or the Pinewood Trail. Then loop back to the spur that contains the boardwalk through the bog. We did the short version with our junior hiker in tow.

Bikes: This is also a bike friendly trail up until the boardwalk. There is a parking area for bikes so cyclist may also enjoy a stroll down the whimsical boardwalk.


Natural paths make perfect hiking terrain, but I do love a good boardwalk. Kids love them, too. The boardwalk is quite impressive with it’s length and durability. We had a great time exploring on the boardwalk.

A few places are available to pass with a dog. The boardwalk juts out making it easy to pass by with dogs and still be courteous to other hikers using the boardwalk. Aside from these few spots to step aside, the passing is quite tight.

Flora & Fauna

Photographers and botanists get your cameras out! The floral life that thrives in this bog is astounding! Not only that, but the park service has labeled it for we non-plant-knowing folks. There are interpretive signs sharing knowledge of the plant life as well as labels on the ground next to the living specimens.

Stay on the Trail: It’s important to note that stepping off of the trail is damaging to the bog and takes a very long time for this ecosystem to recover from the smallest of indents.

Plant life isn’t the only thing to observe on this bog walk. We were surprised to spot several fish swimming about in the waters below the boardwalk. There are turtles, frogs, dragonflies and a number of other critters to observe. Pay attention!

Big Bog Lake

At the boardwalks inevitable end, Big Bog Lake greets hikers with it’s wild serenity. I was amazed at the sight of it. It looked so much like the Boundary Waters Wilderness that I love so dearly. I don’t know what I was expecting, but it wasn’t this. Perhaps I was imagining a buggy ugly swamp because of the unappealing name of the lake, but I was pleasantly surprised for sure.

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