Mille Lacs Kathio State Park
Guide

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Introduction

Located on the beautiful waters of Ogechie Lake, Mille Lacs Kathio State Park is a scenic lakeside getaway in northern Minnesota. You’ll have 35 miles of beautiful hiking trails to explore, leading you through the park’s forests and historical sites. And an observation tower gives you panoramic views of the park. The park also has excellent boating and swimming, with a full beach.

The park is also a great destination for RV campers in the winter. The frozen trails that lead throughout the park become the perfect cross-country skiing course. And you can also bring a snowmobile if you want to explore the park’s trails at high speed.

There are multiple different campgrounds located in the park for you to choose from for your rig, depending on the style of camping that you are looking for. Whether traveling in the summer or winter, Mille Lacs Kathio State Park is an excellent destination for any adventurous RV camper.

RV Rentals in Mille Lacs Kathio State Park

Transportation in Mille Lacs Kathio State Park

Driving

Located in northern Minnesota, Mille Lacs Kathio State Park is within driving distance of Minneapolis, as well as multiple other major cities in the region. If you are driving from Minneapolis, take US-169 north from the city and you will reach the park in around an hour and a half. From Des Moines, take I-35 north out of the city and you will get to the park in around five hours. And from Chicago, you’ll take I-94 west from the city and reach the park in about six hours.

The roads at the park are fairly easy to navigate, with few tight turns. Some of the campgrounds can have some difficult turns, however. If you have a large rig, you may want to try to book a site that is closer to the entrance to the campground.

The roads also tend to freeze over during the winter. The park is generally good at keeping the roads as clear as possible, but there still may be snow or ice. If you are visiting the park as the temperature begins to drop, you should consider bringing snow chains with your campervan.

Parking

Public Transport

Campgrounds and parking in Mille Lacs Kathio State Park

Campsites in Mille Lacs Kathio State Park

Reservations camping

Equestrian Campground

There’s also a ten site equestrian campground. These sites are all primitive, so you won’t have hookups of any kind. There are restrooms but no showers. You’ll have access to the network of equestrian trails, as well as the park’s observation tower.

Lake Ogechie Campground

This campground is much smaller, with only 26 sites to choose from. But you’ll be located right on the waters of Ogechie Lake, making it great for those who want scenic water views.

There are no hookups of any kind at the sites, nor are there restrooms or drinking water access points. Make sure you have plenty of fresh water with you. The campground is right next to the park’s Landmark Trail loop, which features most of the historical sites found within the park.

Mille Lacs Kathio Petaga Campground

This is the main modern campground in the park. There are 70 sites for you to choose from, 12 of which have electrical hookups. There are restrooms located within the park. You’ll also have easy access to the park’s network of hiking trails, as well as the swimming beach and picnic shelters.

The campground is open year round, and the sites can be reserved online. However, showers may only be available from May through October.

Sites at all of the campgrounds can be reserved up to 12 months in advance, and should be booked at least a day before you arrive. The park is very popular during the summer, so you should book as early as possible if you plan on visiting during peak season.

First-come first-served

Alternate camping

Seasonal activities in Mille Lacs Kathio State Park

In-Season

Sightseeing at the Observation Tower

Hikers who want to get a bird’s eye view of the park can also climb up the park’s 100-foot tall observation tower. You’ll have a panoramic view of the park’s forests, the lake, and the historical sites found throughout the park.

The observation tower is great year round, but the views are best if you come to the park in the fall, when the forests are most beautiful. The observation may be closed at times during the winter due to snow and ice, so you may want to check with the park office before you visit.

Hiking

The park’s most popular activity is hiking. You’ll find a 35 mile network of hiking trails that weaves through the forests and around Ogechie Lake.

The Landmark Trail is a short one mile loop that leads you through the historical sites found in the park. Or take the Mille Lacs loop for beautiful views of the water. You’ll find dozens of bird species throughout the park, as well as a wide variety of mammals

When should you come to hike? Fall is usually the best time, when the forests are dressed in beautiful autumn colors. But the hiking is excellent year round.

Swimming

The park is a popular destination for swimmers in the summer. Ogechie Lake is the perfect place to cool down on a hot summer day. There are multiple swimming areas located throughout the park, as well as a full swimming beach. You’ll also find picnic areas near the beach, should you want to eat and relax after a swim. And the main trails of the park are easy to access from the swimming beach, should you want to both hike and swim.

Off-Season

Snowmobiling

You can also use the park’s network of trails for snowmobiling, if you want a more high speed way of exploring the park. You can also connect to many trails that lead outside of the park and allow you to explore the surrounding forests. This gives you hundreds of miles of ground to cover. Do take extra caution, as there are many snowshoers and cross-country skiers using the trails as well. And you’ll have to make sure you bring your own snowmobile with your rig, as the park doesn’t offer any rentals.

Cross-Country Skiing

RV campers who visit the park in the winter will find an excellent cross-country skiing course that weaves throughout the park. The lake’s waters and frozen forest are beautiful during the winter, especially after snowstorms. And many of the trails are groomed, so the trails are accessible to skiers of all ages and experience levels. The park doesn’t rent any gear, so you’ll need to make sure you bring along your own ski equipment with your rig.

Birdwatching

The park is also an excellent destination for RV campers who are interested in birdwatching. You’ll find hundreds of species of birds throughout the year.

When should you visit? The birdwatching in the park tends to be best in the spring and fall seasons, when there are more birds on the move. But you’ll find dozens of species in the park throughout the year.

The park provides a great checklist of the bird species you should look out for. And you can always do your own research as well. Check out the Minnesota bird watching societies. Many of them produce excellent materials, including field guides.

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