Itasca State Park and Vicinity

Bagley, Minnesota 56621

Itasca State Park and Vicinity

Itasca State Park and Vicinity Professional Review and Guide

"The word “Itasca” may sound like it has Native American origins, but it is a contrived composite of the Latin “Veritas Caput,” or “true head,” as its discoverer Schoolcraft christened it in 1832. Schoolcraft may have the distinction of discovering the source of the 2,500-mile Mississippi River, but Jacob Brower must be credited with conserving this 32,000-acre park. He rallied citizens to establish the park to protect remnant stands of virgin timber and the wildlife within. He served as the park’s first commissioner, battling logging interests, politicians, and poachers while personally paying many of the costs associated with these efforts. He negotiated and acquired more than half the park’s lands. Itasca may be the longest-studied of any birding site in the state.

Key birds: Common Loon, Red-necked Grebe, American White Pelican, Bald Eagle, Common Tern, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Black-backed Woodpecker, Least Flycatcher, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Sedge and Winter Wrens, Hermit Thrush, 15-20 species of breeding warblers, Swamp Sparrow. Don’t miss: Upper Rice Lake, Kabekona Rookery. This eTrail provides information on birding strategies for this location, birds you might see, directions to each birding spot, and helpful maps."

Itasca State Park and Vicinity Reviews

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Lake Itasca is clearly one of the oldest, largest and most well-known state parks in Minnesota, so it’s difficult to be too critical of this Minnesota institution. The trails at Itasca are arguably some of the best in the state and, due to the large area of the park, it is easy to feel like you are completely alone in the woods (which is hard to accomplish at many state parks these days). However, I have never experienced insects as bad as they were while we backpacked at Itasca in late June of 2007. I understand that mosquitoes, flies and ticks are much worse statewide this summer than they have been in recent history, but the magnitude of the problem was unreal. For instance, in the days following our weekend at Itasca, I removed over 60 ticks off of our dog (who has FrontLine tick protection) and my wife and I probably removed nearly 25 from each other that weekend as well. I’ve been in northern Minnesota enough to know that insects are a part of the experience, but I’ve never seen anything like I did during our recent trip to Itasca. My recommendation would be to wait until this current insect anomaly has passed and then make a trip up to visit Itasca. It’s one of the greatest places in Minnesota, but it’s not worth it if you’re removing ticks the entire time.

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Trail Information

Nearby City
Several options
Trail Type
3 days
Best April-June; October-November; December-February
Best Times
Itasca State Park; Paul Bunyan State Forest
Local Contacts
Minnesota Highway Map
Local Maps

Activity Feed

Jul 2018