Covering an area of former mining pits in Minnesota’s Cuyuna Range, Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area now boasts 5,000 acres of regenerated vegetation and 25 miles of natural shoreline. This Minnesota park was abandoned by mining companies about 30 years ago and now offers some of the state’s best mountain biking, along with opportunities for boating, canoeing, fishing, swimming, fat biking, snowshoeing and more—making it an excellent pick for your next RV getaway.
Mountain bikers will feel particularly drawn to Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area, as the park offers over 25 miles of riding spread across 800 acres, with over 30 purpose-built routes to choose from. In addition to the stellar mountain biking, the park also offers 267 acres of continuous water surface across six connected mine lakes, perfect for boaters, paddlers, anglers, and even scuba divers to explore. Visitors who make the trip to Cuyuna in the winter will have a whole new set of recreation options, as the cold Minnesota winters allow the park to offer fat biking, snowshoeing, and ungroomed cross-country skiing once snow hits the ground.
Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area offers 18 electric sites and 15 non-electric sites in its Portsmouth Campground. While visitors can enjoy year-round recreation options at the park, the campground is only open in the warmer months from late April through October, so visitors eager to spend the night at Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area should schedule their trip accordingly.
Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area sits about two hours southwest of Duluth and two hours north of Minneapolis. The park is located just off of MN-210 and MN-6, so it can be easily reached by RV or car.
Once inside the park, visitors will notice that Cuyuna’s 5,000 acres are mostly undeveloped. However, as one of Minnesota’s newest State Recreation Areas, the park is relatively easy to navigate, with well-maintained roads connecting the various parts of the park. Visitors have plenty of parking options inside Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area, with parking available near the overlooks on Miner’s Mountain Trail, near the Galloping Goose Trailhead, at the Miner’s Mountain Rally Center, and at the Pennington Mine Lake water access point, to name just a few. Visitors coming to the park in the winter season should note though that Miner’s Mountain Overlook, located near the Miner’s Mountain Rally Center, is closed to vehicles in the winter.
Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area offers quick and easy access to the towns of Ironton and Crosby just outside the park, where visitors can find an assortment of restaurants, fast food chains, shops, grocery stores, and gas stations.
Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area offers 33 total campsites in its Portsmouth Campground, located on the northwest shore of the Portsmouth Mine Lake. Of the 33 sites in the campground, 18 are electric sites and 15 are non-electric sites, with 29 as drive-in sites, and four as walk-in only. Portsmouth Campground does not have water hookups, sewer hookups, or a dump station, but visitors can make use of the restrooms and drinking water available in the campground.
Guests can also take advantage of easy access to Portsmouth Mine Lake, the swimming beach, and Drag Line mountain bike trail. The sites are all back-in access and can accommodate rigs of up to 70 feet in length. The campground offers a mix of shaded sites and open, grassy sites for visitors to choose from, and all campsites can be reserved online, so visitors eager to select a particular site at Portsmouth Campground should plan to reserve a site ahead of time. The campground is open from late April through October, though showers are available just from mid-May to early October.
Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area boasts some of the best mountain biking in Minnesota. With over 25 miles of riding spread across 800 acres of paved and singletrack trails, Cuyuna is a mountain biker’s dream. The trails stretch from Yawkey Mine Lake on the east, to Huntington Mine lake on the west, and offer mountain bikers over 30 purpose-built routes to choose from, suiting everyone from beginners to pros. Cuyuna is ranked at the Silver level by the International Mountain Biking Association, so mountain bikers can expect the trails to live up to the hype.
In addition to the stellar mountain biking the park is known for, Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area also offers 25 miles of natural shoreline and six mine lakes that connect to create 267 acres of continuous water surface—perfect for those eager to explore the park by boat or canoe. Visitors can find rentals within a couple miles of the park, and can then take advantage of the drive-in and carry-in boat access points throughout the park, including at Pennington Mine Lake, Portsmouth Mine Lake, Sagamore Mine Lake, and Yawkey Mine Lake.
Visitors eager to explore the turquoise waters of this Minnesota park even more directly can rejoice in knowing that the park is also a popular destination for scuba diving. The clarity and depth of the lakes make them an ideal spot for scuba recreation and training. During a dive, scuba divers can look out for underwater terrain that includes flat terraces and sheer walls, characteristic of the mine roads, railroads, and other remnants of the mining industry in the region.
Those who make the trip to Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area in the snowy winter months are in for a treat, as the park welcomes a whole new set of recreation options once snow hits the ground. In particular, the park becomes a premier destination for fat biking: approximately 40 miles of packed multi-use trails are available for fat biking, with about 20 miles of trails groomed specifically for fat biking. Visitors eager to make use of the park’s fat biking opportunities should make sure to plan their visit in the park’s snowy off-season, and review the park’s website for regulation details. The park also offers snowshoeing and ungroomed cross-country skiing.
For a slower paced activity, visitors can also enjoy the excellent wildlife viewing available at Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area year-round. Visitors can take advantage of the many overlooks located throughout the park, including on Roly Poly Trail, Hopper Hill Trail, Miner’s Mountain Trail, Sand Hog Mountain Trail, and Mucker Mountain Trail, to name a few. While there, visitors can look out for beaver, mink, muskrat, cottontail rabbit, white-tailed deer, and many species of birds including great blue heron, loon, red-tailed hawks, ruffed grouse, and American bald eagles. To keep track of the most popular birds in the park in each season, visitors can pick up a bird checklist from the park office.
With its 25 miles of natural shoreline and many mine lakes, Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area also offers visitors great opportunities for fishing. Anglers can enjoy fishing from a boat or canoe on one of the park’s lakes, or can take advantage of the shore-fishing available throughout the park. Anglers can cast a line for trout, northern, bass, crappie, or sunfish, though they can expect to have the best luck with rainbow and brook trout in Huntington Mine Lake, and rainbow trout in Pennington Mine Lake, Alstead Mine Lake, Yawkey Mine Lake, Manuel Mine Lake, and Sagamore Mine Lake.