Dick Herfindahl: State forests offer abundance of outdoor opportunity

Published 6:44 pm Friday, October 20, 2017

Woods & Water by Dick Herfindahl

After having just spent a few days up at the cabin enjoying some nice weather and the beautiful fall colors I was already ready for more. There is something about being up north and on the water that gives me that certain feeling that I just can’t ever seem to get enough of.

I don’t believe that I can think of anything better than coming into the cabin on a cold day and feeling the warmth of a wood stove. We have enough wood split and stacked at our cabin to last a couple of years and are surrounded by a pretty much limitless supply of birch and pine. While there, we had temperatures that dipped down to the low 30’s and upper 20’s at night and that old wood stove kept it nice and toasty inside the cabin.

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For years I camped with a pickup camper, which made sense because I could pull a boat wherever I went. I almost never camped without taking the boat and even when I left it at home I would find a way to do some fishing. When I was younger, camping without fishing was usually not an option.

I loved heading north in the fall for some late season fishing and that camper had a heater that would almost drive you out. There was no better feeling than coming off of the lake chilled to the bone and climbing into that nice warm camper.

Campsites such as this one can be found on many of the lakes throughout state forests, as well as the Chippewa National Forest. They are free to use for up to 14 days and are on a first-come basis. – Provided

This year, like every year when we visit Spider Lake, we packed a shore lunch which usually consists of sandwiches, chips and pop. We will stop at one of the National Forest campsites located on Spider to enjoy a little leg stretching and eat lunch. My grandson Dylan told me that this is something that he looks forward to each time we go to this lake.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has produced six new, state-of-the-art maps that will make it easier and safer for people to explore, hunt, and recreate in state forests. 

“The DNR has updated six state forests with 53 more to go,” said Forrest Boe, director of the DNR Forestry Division. “This five-year effort will include updating maps for all of Minnesota’s state forests.”

State forest users now have two maps options. A geoPDF map will allow users to download a map onto a mobile device using a variety of map apps and then track their location as a blue dot on the screen. The new user-friendly paper maps highlight the unique recreation features of each forest and include pop-out maps for popular campgrounds and day-use areas.

“The little blue dot that appears on the map on my phone goes with me whether I’m on or off-trail,” said Laura Duffey, DNR state forest map project coordinator. “This feature lets people know exactly where they are in a state forest—no more getting lost.”

The maps are also more detailed than previous versions and highlight the endless recreation opportunities in state forests, such as hiking, mountain biking, birding, berry picking, cross-country skiing, hunting, and horseback, ATV and snowmobile riding. Many state forests also offer campgrounds, fishing piers, boat launches, swimming beaches, and picnic areas.

The new maps also show locations of National Park Service campsites along the St. Croix. River. Digital geoPDF maps are available on the state forest’s webpage at www.mndnr.gov/stateforests.

People can get a free paper map at a local DNR office or the DNR Info Center by sending an email to info.dnr@state.mn.us or calling 888-646-6367, Monday-Friday 8 a.m.-8 p.m. and Saturdays 9 a.m.-1 p.m.

Until next time: Take some time to enjoy the fall colors, hunt a little waterfowl and maybe even do some late fall fishing.

Please take some time to honor those that have sacrificed so much for the freedoms we enjoy today. Also, take a little extra time to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice, those who served and those troops serving today.