Hidden Minnesota: 5 underappreciated state parks and recreation areas to visit this year

Central Minnesota – Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area

Mountain biking in Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area // Photo courtesy of Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

Established in 1993 as an official state recreation area, this stretch of roughly 5,000 acres of undeveloped rock deposits, mining pits, and 25 miles of shoreline is filled with options for adventurers.

Visitors to the area can revel in the year-round biking, which includes 20 miles of fat biking trails in the winter and, in the summer, 25 single-track mountain biking trails that spread over an area of 800 acres. Billed as a “world-class” destination for mountain bikers, the Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area’s trails range from “easy” to “extremely difficult” and offer vistas of the region’s lakes and forests. Wooden bridges, switchbacks, technical trail features (or “techs”) of rocky outcroppings dot the trails and add challenges for riders of all ages.

After a hard day’s ride, visitors can spend the evening sleeping in the three yurts that can be reserved along the west side of Yawkey Mine Lake. These yurts are open year-round to the public and are perfect for winter bikers. In addition, 18 electric and 15 non-electric camping sites and one group camp can be found around the 395-foot deep Portsmouth Mine Pit Lake. Visitors can also go scuba diving in these clear water lakes. Canoeing is also an option for those who wish to stay above the water.

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