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Minnesota State Parks

Seven Mile Creek County Park
Nestled in the ravines and hills of the Minnesota River Valley, the fast-moving waters of Seven Mile Creek have cut through the land to form a picturesque valley bordering a fast-moving stream. Lying on the eastern edge of the region, the park is within a transition zone of the grasslands to the ...
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Swan Lake WMA
Description: In the heart of-south central Minnesota is one of the best and largest wetland complexes in North America: Swan Lake. This 10,000-acre, relatively undisturbed marsh wonderland is a place to experience the diversity and beauty of prairie wetlands, as they once existed.

Serious habitat degradation has not occurred so much of the native plant and animal communities are still present. Aquatic plants and shoreline sedges and grasses that are difficult to find in other areas of southwest Minnesota exist here. The Swan Lake WMA is comprised of several units and state game refuges. Together, they help provide havens for wildlife.

Wildlife to Watch: Bald eagles have nested on the lake for several years. The songs and calls of marsh wrens, yellow-headed blackbirds, soras, Virginia rails and American bitterns echo through the spring and summer.

Swan Lake has one the state's largest nesting concentrations of western grebes. You also may see 4 other grebe species, including red-necked and eared grebes, as well as American white pelicans.

Redheads, mallards, wood ducks, black terns and Forster's terns all thrive in this wetland haven. Hooded mergansers, pintails, shovelers, and teal have been observed.

The open water, land and islands provide nesting habitat for black-crowned night-herons, least bitterns, and yellow-headed blackbirds. Trumpeter swans frequently are reported in the area, and may once again begin nesting here.

You will find animals such as mink, muskrats and white-tailed deer as well as plants like bulrushes, cattails, phragmites, sedges, willow and water lilies here.

Migrating waterfowl, great blue herons, and egrets may be seen in the wetlands. Low water conditions will attract flocks of migrating shorebirds.

Painted turtles are very common. Mainland prairie grassland sites attract butterflies and grassland songbirds while wooded islands and shores harbor forest species.

Special Tips: A canoe/kayak trip is the best way to enjoy the lake. However, the vegetation grows quite high and people have become lost in the channels and bays created by cattails and bulrushes. Use landmarks as you travel through the marsh, take a compass or GPS unit, and tell someone where you are going and when you expect to be back. It’s an actively managed lake, water levels may fluctuate from year to year.

Hunting is allowed on the WMA. Call ahead for hunting season information. Swan Lake is heavily used by waterfowl hunters during open seasons

Public and private holdings are mixed on the shoreline and islands so public must be aware of land boundaries. The lake is too shallow for most motor boat use. Be careful not to disturb nesting areas on floating mats of vegetation.

Ownership: MN DNR 
Size: Swan Lake 10,000 acres associated with approx. 3,000 acres of in several units of the WMA 
Closest Town: Nicollet

ParkingFishingCross Country SkiingHikingBoat LaunchHuntingSmall Boats

Best Seasons for Wildlife Viewing:

Western Grebe - photo by USFWS
Please use Map Link below

Driving Directions:
Located north of Highway 14 between Nicollet and Courtland, Swan Lake has several public accesses. To access the south side of the lake, take Highway 14 for about 1.9 miles west of Nicollet (from junction of Highway 14 & 99). Then, turn north at the public water access signs. On the north side of the lake, take Highway 111 north of Nicollet for about 4 miles. Turn west on County Road 5 for 2.5 miles. Turn south on County Road 64 and continue for 1 mile. Turn west and follow a gravel road to the public access.

Map Link

Swan Lake WMA : Wildlife Viewing Area