|Itasca State Park|
Minnesota’s oldest state park, Itasca was established in 1891. The park is over 32, 000 acres and there are 100 lakes included in the park, as well as the Headwaters of the Mississippi River. The park contains some of Minnesota’s best examples of 100-300 year old old-growth red and white pine f...
Migizi Trail (Cass Lake-Chippewa National Forest)
|Description: This beautiful trail is named for the bald eagle, “migizi” in Ojibwe language. Dedicated in 2003, the Migizi Trail circles Pike Bay on a paved loop through the big red pines of the original Ten Section of the Chippewa National Forest. Pike Bay is connected to the south end of Cass Lake.
The 18-mile trail travels through old growth conifer and northern hardwoods, across wetlands and streams and along the Pike Bay lakeshore. The length of trail allows access to a variety of habitats in which to view wildlife and wildflowers.
A popular hiking and biking state trail, the Heartland, completes the loop on the western boundary and runs into the town of Cass Lake. Although it parallels Highway 371 for a little shy of three miles, the Heartland segment also provides wildlife watching opportunities and numerous wildflowers may be seen along the way.
On the northeast side of the Migizi Trail, crossing Highway 2, a mile and a half spur juts out to the Norway Beach Recreation Area. This is a picturesque place for bird watching, picnicking and camping. During summer months, stop in at the historic Norway Beach Visitor Center located along the trail.
Wildlife to Watch: People often make a special trip to the Chippewa National Forest to observe bald eagles. Because it is home to the largest population of breeding bald eagles in the Lower 48, eagles are commonly seen along the trail, as are herons, pelicans, and osprey.
The National Forests of the western Great Lakes region have among the richest diversity of breeding bird species in North America, and travelers on the Migizi Trail will see and hear a variety of forest bird species.
Wolves and bears, although not commonly seen, do exist along the trail, and occasionally offer visitors a chance to view these secretive species. Watch for white-tailed deer in the vicinity.
Special Tips: The best opportunities for viewing eagles are from the large lakes and major rivers. Wildlife viewing is best at dawn and dusk. Tall white and red pines with openings in the limbs are often prime perch sites. Nests are usually located about 10-20 feet from the top.
In autumn, eagles are often seen perched on lake or river edges, searching for food. The change in temperature causes the lakes to "turn over" as the cooling surface water mixes with lower layers, causing fish to die. Eagles capitalize on the fish's inability to adapt to seasonal changes.
Eagles remain near open water during winter months. On the Chippewa, dams, channels between large lakes and faster moving rivers provide such habitat. The Cass Lake Wayside rest provides easy parking for those with an hour for exploring.
Other Activities: Maps and brochures may also be picked up at the Chippewa NF Office in Cass Lake or the Cass Lake Welcome Center on the east end of town.
Ownership: USDA Forest Service
Size: linear trail, no acres
Closest Town: Cass Lake
Best Seasons for Wildlife Viewing: