(Sidenote – June 10, 2023, is Free State Park day in Minnesota!)
Hayes Lake State Park
This state park holds a special place in my heart. It’s the closest state park to where I grew up. Several relatives have been employed here. Hayes Lake State Park is located ‘within’ Beltrami Island State Forest. The Beltrami Forest was a favorite blueberry picking spot for many folks around the area. Nearby was the famous Bemis Hill, a sledding hill for winter fun.
Hayes Lake officially became a state park in 1967. The lake was formed by building a dam on the north fork of the Roseau River. Both the lake and the park were named for A.F. Hayes, an early resident and an advocate of the lake’s creation.
We stopped at the Ranger Station to get our brochure. Hayes Lake State Park has 35 camping sites in two loops, 18 have electricity. Loop 1 is a great gathering spot for family and friends, we’ve met up with lots of loved ones there. A centrally located shower/restroom building is available to campers seasonally. There are a couple hike-in campsites and seasonal camper cabins.
After the Ranger Station, we went to the Dam.
Several trails meet up near the dam. The Moose Ridge Trail is 4 miles of hiking, horseback riding, or mountain biking. The River Tower Trail is for hiking and horseback riding. Horseback riding connects with the Beltrami Island State Forest. (Bemis Hill Campground is another campsite located within the Beltrami Island State Forest and managed by Hayes Lake State Park. The Bemis campground offers two campsites and four horse campsites, all of which are primitive. Drinking water and vault toilets are available seasonally. In winter, the campground offers an excellent sledding hill, a shelter, and access to snowmobile trails.) The River Tower Trail leads to the Homestead Trail, which is hiking only. The Homestead Trail passes near the remains of the Hendershot homestead and several gravesites. The Pine Ridge Trail is for hiking and is part of the Hiking Club Trail, which leads to the beach and campsites.
Views from both sides of the dam.
At the dam, there’s a boat launch and fishing pier. Rent a boat, canoe, or kayak to get out on the lake. Only electric motorboats are allowed on Hayes Lake. Fisherpersons can try their luck at catching northern pike, crappie, sunfish, and largemouth bass.
Donated bench to sit and view the lake waters at the dam.
In the dam parking lot we saw these ‘special’ butterflies… On our way to this park, we passed my mother and stepfather’s grave site. Mom never liked flowers, but she loved butterflies (and hummingbirds). I placed a yellow butterfly near her headstone. After leaving their gravesites, we went to the park, and there were ‘flocks’ of yellow butterflies.
I tried to get pictures of them as they flew around but it was nearly impossible.
This is one of several wooden maps located around the park.
Next, we headed to the picnic and beach area.
Just past the Park News sign, is the path to the beach.
Behind these trees is the swimming beach. Several families were enjoying the sandy beach. To avoid photographing them, I didn’t take shots of the beach area. A few picnic tables were in shady areas being used to hold people’s belongings and lunches.
Not far from the beach area is a screened-in picnic shelter which is a great place for group get-togethers. The shelter has electricity and can be reserved by contacting the park office.
One source of water near the picnic shelter is a working hand pump.
The Hiking Club Trail is the 2.5-mile Pine Ridge Interpretive Trail. It weaves in between woods and lakeshore, connecting the swimming beach with the camping areas. Pine Ridge is a mowed, rolling hill trail, with interpretive signs. Once you pass the sanitation building, there’s a bog boardwalk on the other side.
In winter, there are 9 miles of snowmobile trails and 5 miles of ski trails. Visitors may snowshoe anywhere in the park except for on the track of groomed ski trails.
Some of the wildlife residents of the park include; black bears, moose, fisher, otter, bobcat, pine martin, lynx, and timber wolves. More common wildlife are deer, fox, raccoon, porcupine, beaver, mink, and skunk. Along the shoreline, loons, herons, grebes, and other water birds can be seen.
The lake is gorgeous! And as with all the state parks, there’s so much more to see and do than can be photographed, and each changing season offers many different views.