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Minnesota State Parks

Crane Meadows National Wildlife Refuge
Intersected by the Platte River and Skunk, Rice and Buckman Creeks, these acres of marsh, meadow and open water provide ideal wildlife habitat. There are low-land sedge meadows with willow clumps and red and bur oak that share the savanna with prairie grasses and purple prairie clover. Both Rice ...
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Mille Lacs Kathio State Park
Description: Soaring eagles and osprey, staging loons, gliding gulls and migrating waterfowl and warblers are just a few of the highlights of Mille Lacs Lake.

This is one of the largest lakes in Minnesota, encompassing 132,510 acres and 76 miles of shoreline. In conjunction with the thousands of acres of undeveloped woods and wetlands surrounding it, the area provides choice wildlife watching.

Wildlife to Watch: The park is home to a variety of wildlife. Hawks, ospreys, owls, and eagles are common. The tracks of beaver, raccoon, mink, and deer are often seen on the trail or in the snow. Northern Pike, walleye, bluegills, sunfish and bass inhabit the lake. The aspen stands and small clearings are excellent for ruffed grouse. Squirrels and chipmunks thrive in maple and oak stands. The small ponds and streams provide homes for amphibians and insects, which in turn attract larger fish, birds, and mammals.

At Mille Lacs Kathio State Park, scout for black terns on Ogechie Lake and red-winged blackbirds in the vast cattail marsh that lies between Shakopee and Onamia Lakes. Rent a canoe and spend an entire day on the lakes and Rum River.

Forest songbirds are abundant—watch for indigo buntings, Baltimore orioles, American redstarts, black-capped chickadees, red-breasted and white-breasted nuthatches, cedar waxwings, fox and white-throated sparrows, dark-eyed juncos, pine and evening grosbeaks, common redpolls, pine siskins, American goldfinches, purple finches and red-headed, red-bellied, downy, hairy and pileated woodpeckers. Don’t be surprised if you scare up a ruffed grouse while walking in the woods.

During most of the year the best way to see animals is to drive slowly through the park at dawn or dusk. Look for deer along meadow edges and porcupines lumbering across the road. Black bears are common, but tend to be reclusive during the park’s busy times.

Although beavers are not often seen, you might notice their lodges and chiselings. In addition, explore miles of hiking and horseback riding trails that roam through the park.

Special Tips:  Mille Lacs Kathio State Park Birding Checklist

Daily or annual vehicle permits are required to enter state parks. Be respectful of Indian Tribal lands within the Kathio Park boundaries. Whenever possible along Highway 169, take the frontage roads since they run closer to the water's edge and give a better view of bays and inlets. You'll be able to go slower than on the main highway and it'll be easier to spot and enjoy birds and wildlife. These roads provide great birding in September and October.

Other Activities: Campsites at Mille Lacs Kathio State Park now can be reserved through the centralized reservation service by calling 1-866-85PARKS (1-866-857-2757) or online at stayatmnparks.com.

Ownership: MN DNR 
Size: 10,585 acres 
Closest Town: Onamia

RestroomsParkingTent CampingFishingCross Country SkiingHikingPicnic tablesBoat LaunchHorse TrailsFeeLarge BoatsSmall BoatsTrailer CampingDrinking WaterCamp FireAuto TourRV Pullout

Best Seasons for Wildlife Viewing:

Black Bear - photo by USFWS
Please use Map Link below

Driving Directions:
Go to mile post marker #221 on US Hwy 169, about 8 miles north of Onamia. Watch for the Kathio Arrowhead sign and take County Road 26 for about a mile, to the park entrance.

Map Link

Mille Lacs Kathio State Park : Wildlife Viewing Area