A Visit to Schoolcraft State Park
Anne Arthur and daughter Signy Sherman, authors of Minnesota State Parks, help us to discover the beauty and the countless things to see and do at Schoolcraft State Park. Join them on their visit!
At just 225 acres, Schoolcraft State Park is small, but it is situated in a nicely wooded area along the Mississippi River. The park is named for Henry Rowe Schoolcraft. In 1932, he became the first European to see the Headwaters of the Mississippi River. He was led to the site by his Anishinaabe guide, Ozawindib. It is believed that they camped in the vicinity of the park. Later, in the days of river travel, the southern edge of the park was a rest stop for those journeying on the Mississippi River. This part of the park was also a logging camp, and it is the site of a homestead that dates back to 1898.
The Mississippi River is the real draw here, and it runs along the eastern side of the park. The Vermillion River joins the Mississippi on the southern edge of the park, providing more to explore.
Schoolcraft State Park is about an hour’s drive from the Lost 40 Scientific and Natural Area. During the state’s early logging days, the forest there was originally scheduled to be logged, but a mapping error saved it, preserving the towering old-growth pines. If you want a glimpse at what Minnesota’s forests once looked like, head to the Lost 40. It’s incredible.
There are 2 miles of hiking trails. The Hiking Club Trail is a 1.7-mile loop that passes the Dobson Homestead. Snowshoeing is allowed anywhere in the park.
A spacious picnic area is near the river, and a boat launch is located along the Mississippi River. The fishing is excellent in both rivers.
There are 28 rustic campsites. There are no shower facilities or electric sites. A group campground located along the river can accommodate up to 20 people. One canoe-in site is located just north of the Vermillion River.
There are no programs, but there is interpretive signage located throughout the park.
- Eight campsites have river views; sites 6 and 15 are located on the river, while the others are not far from it.
- Hike along the Old Grand Rapids Road, but bring your bug spray.
- Consider bringing your canoe or kayak to explore both the Mississippi and Vermillion Rivers.
- Spend some time watching for the waterfowl that frequent the rivers.
The Forest History Center is operated by the Minnesota Historical Society. It includes exhibits, trails, and a recreated logging camp from the turn of the twentieth century. (2609 County Road 76, Grand Rapids, 55744; 218-327-4482)
The Judy Garland Museum is the restored childhood home of Judy Garland, famous for her role as Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz. (2727 US 169 S, Grand Rapids, 55744; 218-327-9276)
HOW TO GET THERE
Schoolcraft State Park is located along the banks of the Mississippi River. From Grand Rapids, go west on Highway 2 to County Road 6, then south to County Road 65. Next, go west to County Road 74 and north to the park entrance.