Itasca State Park

Park Rapids, Minnesota 56470

Itasca State Park

Itasca State Park Professional Review and Guide

"North of Park Rapids. A rolling trail that goes by many small lakes, all the while under some of the biggest pines in the state. Special attractions: Headwaters of the Mississippi, wildlife, and big old-growth red and white pines. Itasca State Park holds the headwaters of the mighty Mississippi, which is the seventh largest river in the world and the largest river in North America.

Yet, here you can walk across it on stepping stones. Some facts about the river: it runs for 2,552 miles (about one quarter of its length is in Minnesota); it drops 1,475 feet on its way to the Gulf of Mexico; and it drains thirty-one states and a couple of Canadian provinces. Its tributaries, stretching from the Rocky Mountains (with the Missouri River) to the Appalachians (with the Ohio River), create a water basin larger than the Nile."

Itasca State Park Reviews

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This place has nice scenery and lots to offer in the way of hiking and wildlife viewing. After hiking the trails, a dip in the Mississippi River is always worthwhile.
I did a backpack trip to the furthest southern campsite in the park, de Soto Lake campsite. We spent most of our hiking on the Deer Park trail. The trail was nicely groomed and usually 2-people wide. There was a good amount of elevation change up and down as you meander through about half a dozen lakes, all visible from the trail. The campsite itself was gorgeous. Firepit and tent area were located about twenty feet from the lake. Lake front at this location was sand and small rocks, perfect for swimming. As far as a backpacking trip goes this was an ideal location. Perfect for beginning and experienced backpackers.
A dream park for families trying to get a taste of the camping, hiking, biking experience in a beautiful, historic park. Lots of bike trails, hiking trails, and boat tours of the lake which is the birthplace of the Mississippi River are available. This is the park where my daughter and I had our first backpack camping experience. We made a lot of mistakes. But by the end of the trip, my daughter said, "I don't want you to think I enjoyed this, or that I ever want to do it again, but I am sorry to see it end." The only negative is that the park can be crowded. If you want a car camping site, you need to reserve ahead.

Itasca State Park Photos

Trail Information

Park Rapids
Nearby City
200 feet
Elevation Gain
Trail Type
Skill Level
1,530 feet
Trailhead Elevation
1,650 feet
Top Elevation
Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, 800-652-9747
Local Contacts
State park trail map; USGS quad: Lake Itasca.
Local Maps

Activity Feed

Jul 2018