Southern Minnesota prairie lands are gorgeous! It’s a different kind of landscape than most Minnesotans are used to. Peal away from the usual thick forests and pine groves for something different.
Dog Friendly: Yes
Time to go: Spring- Autumn is best, open year-round (ungroomed ski)
Fees: $7 Entrance Fee or $35 Yearly MN State Park Vehicle Pass (totally worth it, get it here.)
Location: Glacial Lakes is located just 5 miles south of the town of Starbuck, MN.
Address: 25022 County Road 41, Starbuck, MN 56381
Trail Head & Parking
Parking is available near the Signalness Lake. The trail head is on the lake side of the parking area, you’ll need to head east (right if you’re facing the lake). This first section of trail leads along the lake to a second parking area that is available for group campers.
Signalness Lake Shore
Hiking along the edge of the lake is beautiful, especially when crossing the bridge over the reeds. Watch for butterflies, frogs, and turtles in this area. Life is abundant!
Passing the Campground
The trail will lead passed a small amphitheater and to the tent camping area. The trail continues south after the campground. It is well marked and very obvious.
Note on Water: This is the last chance for water before heading into the prairie. We filled up our water bottles at the camp area water spigots. Stay hydrated, folks!
It is at this point, beyond the campground, that the trail truly becomes prairie. The tall grasses and wildflowers sway in the wind and welcome bees and butterflies to their nectar. Take your time through this stretch of the trail. We truly enjoyed the long views reaching over the land. The sway of the prairie is tranquil and brings peace to those who take the time to appreciate it.
Entering The Forest
The forest at the edge of the prairie provides much needed shade on a hot July day. Take refuge here before the climb to the highest point in the park. The towering old growth trees are a safe haven from the heat for animals as well. Keep a watchful eye for deer, racoons, and woodpeckers.
The parks highest point overlooks ponds, prairie, and farms. To get there, hikers must overcome the incline that crests at this view. This is the only truly steep portion of the trail, and it’s not too bad. It seemed a bit more difficult as I was carrying my 3 year old on my back. The climb is actually very neat, and well maintained. At the top, a bench waits for hikers to take a rest. It’s the perfect spot to unpack a picnic and rehydrate.
The trail loops back through the forest and out to the prairie. It loops once more, giving the option for a hike to a small lake or to continue back on the original trail. We opted to stay on the original trail. It cut off a third of a mile, it was a very hot day and we had paddle boarding to get to!
Other Park Must-Do’s
There is more to do at this park than hike. We spent the whole day here and had a blast.
- Canoe, Kayak, Paddle Board (rentals available or bring you own)
- Biking Trails
- Horse Trails & Camp
- Camp or Cabin Stay
- Endless Photography Opportunities
- Star Gazing Over the Prairie