Snowshoeing in Lake Maria State Park

Made possible by



Established in 1963, Lake Maria State Park offers outdoor enthusiasts a 1,750-acre wilderness playground. Habitats range from deep old growth woods, marshes, ponds and grassland prairies. In the winter, snowshoeing and cross country skiing offer a unique experience.

Written by

Lou Dzierzak


3.0 miles

Destination Distance From Downtown

40.5 miles


3 of 5 diamonds


Time To Complete

1 hours

30 minutes to all day




Dog Friendly

On Leash Only

Dogs are allowed on leash

Fees Permits


Permits are required. Available as annual or day pass options



During the summer the 1,750-acre Lake Maria is popular with hikers and backpackers who use the remote backpacking sites that offer a wilderness experience within an hour of the Twin Cities metropolitan area. When winter arrives, a deep blanket of snow opens the park to a different kind of exploring. The park maintains 3 miles of packed trails for snowshoeing and exploring is permitted except on trails groomed for cross country skiing. 

The primary trailhead is located in main parking lot. A well-marked junction with detailed maps shows several trail options called Big Woods, Anderson Hill, Kettle Kave and Bjorland. While snowshoeing isn't permitted on trails groomed for cross country skiing, snowshoes are strike out off trail or parallel established trails deeper into the woods. The area surrounding the Big Woods Trail is a place to start exploring. Named for a vast old growth forest that covered most of Minnesota, this park of the park contains hundred year old maples, elm, cedar, oak, basswood and tamarack trees.

The Anderson Hill and Big Woods trails merge and continue across a wide open wildflower filled grassland. In the winter, deep snow can turns this meadow into an untracked playground. The path moves through a series of rolling hills offering grand vistas of the prairie before moving back through a forest. The two-mile Bjorkland Lake Trail loop that travels through open meadows before reaching a picnic area that overlooks Bjorkland Lake offers a different more wide open snowshoeing environment. 

What Makes It Great

Lake Maria rents snowshoes on weekends when there's appropriate snow depth. A warming house with bathrooms and an indoor picnic area gives you a place to take a break for lunch and plan the next adventure. A combination of broad vistas and diverse natural environments makes the 5.5- mile long Big Woods Loop one of the most popular trails in Lake Maria state park. The trail rolls up and down hills passing old-growth forests, frozen ponds and wetlands. In the winter, meandering off-trail takes you to places unexplored during the summer. 

Who is Going to Love It

Carved by at least three Ice Age glaciers, the landscape now offers rolling hills, thick stands of old growth forest and small frozen lakes and ponds. When the snows are deep, snowshoeing in Lake Maria State Park is an incredible experience. Wander off the summer's established trail system and stand next to trees more than a century old. On a crisp winter day with blue skies and bright sunshine, a fresh snow will literally glitter. 

Directions, Parking, & Regulations

Lake Maria State Park is located off of 1-94 an hour north of the Twin Cities. The park is open 8:00 a.m.-10 p.m. daily. Dogs are permitted in the park on leashes. Printable trail maps are available at the visitor’s center and can be downloaded from the park’s website. Satellite and USGS Topographic maps are also available here


Lake Maria State Park

11411 Clementa Ave NW
Monticello, MN, 55362
45.315872, -93.932825

Get Directions