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Wild River State Park
Turn the clock back a few hundred years and imagine yourself standing in the St. Croix River Valley amid a stretch of 100 to 200-foot white pine trees. If you're successful, you'll have a mental picture of what parts of the riverway looked like then. If you are having a little trouble coming up ...
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Carlos Avery WMA
Description: The Carlos Avery Wildlife Management Area encompasses more than 23,000 acres, representing the largest public land tract in the seven-county metro area. The land, once owned by the Crex Carpet Company, was managed for the wiregrass used to make rugs. In 1933, the land became tax-forfeited and was purchased by the Minnesota Conservation Commission.

Carlos Avery WMA lies on the Anoka Sand Plain, a landscape characterized by poorly drained, sandy soils. About two thirds of the management area is wetland, a mixture of emergent marsh and open water.

The Sunrise Unit, east of Stacy, is a vast stretch of tamarack bog that borders the Sunrise River and provides an excellent opportunity to see aquatic birds. The upland areas are primarily old fields, grasslands, oak woodlands and food plots.

Wildlife to Watch: A highlight of your visit to Carlos Avery WMA will be the chance to see sandhill cranes, magnificent birds not often spotted in the metro area. This is a great spot to view migrant ducks, geese and warblers in April and May. You might also see American bitterns, green herons, belted kingfishers, bald eagles, wild turkeys, vireos and many species of waterfowl, as well as mammals like deer, coyotes, river otters and an occasional black bear.

Over 20,000 acres of marshland, lakes and swamp, Carlos Avery is best visited in migration when the songbirds come through, usually in large numbers. Species usually found in summer include Bald Eagle, Sandhill Crane, Sedge Wren, and Golden-winged Warbler.

Special Tips: Carlos Avery WMA is managed for wildlife. There is minimal development except for approximately 57 miles of roads, 23 miles of trails and 21 miles of dikes that provide access to this vast area by hiking or by car.

A 7-mile self-guided auto tour begins at the Forestry Office on Zodiac Street and provides an excellent view of the area. Part of this area near the headquarters is posted as sanctuary — no trespassing.

Because of the area's large size, it's a good idea to obtain a WMA map or an auto tour brochure before you explore.

Ownership: MN DNR 
Size: 23,000 acres 
Closest Town: Forest Lake

RestroomsParkingHikingHuntingDrinking WaterAuto Tour

Best Seasons for Wildlife Viewing:

Sandhill Crane - photo by USFWS
Please use Map Link below

Driving Directions:
Located 30 miles north of the Twin Cities near Forest Lake. The WMA headquarters is 7 miles west of Forest Lake on Anoka County Road 18.

Map Link

Carlos Avery WMA : Wildlife Viewing Area