On the outskirts of Waterville, in southern Minnesota, right next to the point where the Cannon River drains to the lake lies Sakatah Lake State Park. There are a lot of treasures here. Besides the Sakatah Singing Hills State Trail that traverses the park and the Upper and Lower Sakatah Lakes, this 842-acre state park features moraines, wetlands, and multi-use trails. The word Sakatah is derived from Wahpekita tribe of Dakota translated to mean singing hills.
In the past, the park held cultural significance to the Dakota people who were native inhabitants of this territory. Some of their burial mounds are still preserved within the park. Though the Dakota people were displaced by war, most facilities in the region including the park's trails still bear native Dakota names.
At an elevation of 1,076 feet, the park marks the transition point of big woods and the prairies. On one side you can see the maples and the elms while the other side is lined with oaks and prairies. Though the park was established in 1963, the rail passing through the park ceased to operate in 1976 and was converted into a recreational trail. Also, the park is a popular hiking, fishing and boating destination. With over 60 campsites and two primitive group camping area, visitors will have plenty of spaces to park their trailers when vacationing at Sakatah Lake State Park.
Just 14 miles west of Faribault on Highway 60, it is easy to get to Sakatah Lake State Park. Conveniently located near the point where state Highway 13 and 60 intersects at Waterville, guests can access the park easily with any vehicle regardless of the direction they are coming from. Big trailers and RVs may find it difficult to navigate across the park since most internal roads are quite narrow, have tight turnarounds, and boulders lining the edges. The most convenient parking lot is located at the fishing pier, although there is another one by the primitive group campground.
Located just next to the lakes, Sakatah Lake State Park features 62 campsites organized into four loops. Only 14 of these sites offer electric hookups; the rest of the sites are primitive. This pet-friendly campground provides amenities such as flush toilets, hot showers, drinking water, picnic tables, and grills. There are no sewer hookups, but a sanitary dump station is available for trailers and RVs. Open from April through mid-October, campsites can be reserved online up to 12 months in advance. Additionally, there is one camper cabin available for rent. For bike rentals and groceries, Waterville is not far from the park.
Some campsites are available on first-come first-served basis.
This campground offers five bike-in campsites. Due to the popularity of mountain biking in the park trails, these campsites are exclusively available for guests traveling on a bicycle. Amenities in this area include picnic tables and fire rings. You can access drinking water from the nearby group camp area.
Sakatah Lake State Park has two group camping areas located on the eastern end of the park namely the Upper Group Camp and Lower Group Camp. Each group camp can accommodate a maximum of 50 people and have an outhouse. The Upper Group Camp area lies along the shores of Upper Sakatah Lake adjacent to Sakatah Singing State Trail. This area is designated for RV camping as well as tent camping. The area is equipped with water and electricity.
Situated on the shores of Lower Sakatah Lake, the Lower Group Camp is designated for tent campers only. Amenities in this camp area include a dock, parking area, and a water hand pump.
Avid anglers will no doubt love pan fishing in Sakatah Lake. The park offers visitors a fishing pier near the picnic area at the edge of the campground for convenience. Fishing is allowed all year round, however, if you can visit the park during fall or spring, this is the best time for fishing. The three and a half miles of shorelines provide access to fishing. Anglers can catch walleye, northern pike, and pin fish. There is plenty of largemouth bass too. Fishing poles are available in the park office. Bring enough mosquito repellent with you in the camper because mosquitoes will literally feast on you.
Hiking is one of the most popular activities in the park. Sakatah Lake State Park has five miles of hiking trails. The most exciting trail is a section of the 39 miles of the Sakatah Singing Hills State Trail that cuts through the park. This particular trail is an abandoned railway that connects Mankato to Faribault. The three miles that are in the park confines are paved and suitable for biking and hiking. The trail is nicely shaded and has benches. For those interested in lake views, the Wahpekute Trail that runs along the lake shore.
Sakatah Lake State Park is a paradise for wildlife watchers. When hiking you will discover that the park is a habitat for coyote, rabbits, and deer. If you are a birding enthusiast, then the park forest is a great place to watch for songbirds, woodpeckers, and hawks. When taking evening strolls along the park trails, you might be lucky enough to spot owls.
For day use visitors there is a prime picnic area located along the shores of Upper Sakatah Lake. From here visitors can easily access all the recreational facilities including the fishing pier and the playground. However, there are many picnic area spread across the park where your lunch with your loved ones.
Winter sports are prime recreational activities in Sakatah Lake State Park. During winter, skiers can explore many of the park's multi-use trails like Timber Doodle Trail or Big Woods trail. Also, The Sakatah Singing Hills State Trail converts to a snowmobiling trail in winter. Additionally rollerblading is also quite popular in the park.
For water sports enthusiasts Sakatah Lake offers excellent opportunities for boating, canoeing, and paddling. This is a great way of soaking the beauty of rolling hills, bluffs, and aquatic life. There are four rental canoes available seasonally.