Archive for March, 2016

The Benefits of a Family Camping Trip

Thursday, March 17th, 2016

Warm weather is just around the corner – which means it’s time to start planning how you and your family will enjoy the sunshine! A great way to both enjoy the natural beauty of Leech Lake and bring your family together is a family camping trip. Leech Lake is the perfect place to create wonderful memories of fishing on the lake, making s’mores around the fire, and sleeping under the stars.

Even if you already have plenty of camping under your belt  it may surprise you to learn that camping trips have been proven to benefit individuals and families in a variety of ways. Here are just a few of the reasons why a camping trip might be just what your family needs.

Camping Relieves Stress – Fast!

It’s difficult for anyone – kids included — to avoid feeling overwhelmed by all the distractions that bombard us every day. Not only are kids and families busier than ever, but there’s also the dozens (if not hundreds) of texts, emails, and notifications that keep our phones constantly buzzing.

Camping gives us a chance to turn off our phones and enjoy the freedom of being “unplugged,” and it has been proven that hyperactive children feel more relaxed while they are outdoors.

Camping helps parents relax, too. You’ll enjoy the peace of mind of knowing that your family is in a safe space where you don’t have to worry about where they are, who they’re with, or what they’re doing. And, of course, time spent enjoying the peace and quiet of nature helps adults relax as well.

 

Learning and Exploring Together

As a parent, you might feel like you rely on your kids to teach you about how to use your new-fangled gadgets and gizmos. While today’s teens do have a knack for learning how to use the latest technology, they might be less familiar with outdoor skills such as starting a fire, identifying plants and animals, or simply exploring the woods.

A family camping trip provides all sorts of opportunities for parents to pass on these skills to their kids, or to learn them together if you don’t already consider yourself the “outdoorsy” type. Bring along a guide book to help you identify leaves, bird calls, animal tracks, and bugs; you can even embark on a geocaching treasure hunt together!

It Helps You Sleep

Who couldn’t use a good, restful night’s sleep? When you’re camping, you’re more likely to wake up with the sunrise and start feeling sleepy at sunset, which is the perfect recipe for a full, healthy sleep schedule. Plus, getting some time away from all that artificial light helps your body get back in tune with its natural sleep cycle. Camping benefits your mental health in other ways, too – not only will you sleep longer and better, but you’ll have an easier time falling asleep.

These are just a few of the reasons why a camping trip might be the perfect summer vacation for you and your family! Whether you’re already experienced campers or trying it for the first time, the Leech Lake area has the perfect place for everyone – you can truly “rough it” in your own tent, or rent an RV if you’re not quite ready to brave the elements. Several campgrounds in the Leech Lake area offer RV sites, including Shores of Leech Lake, Acorn Hill Family Resort, and more! For families with younger children, Hiawatha Beach Resort, Huddles Resort, and Steamboat Bay Resort offer scheduled activities for kids throughout the day. Plus, you won’t be far from all sorts of local attractions, including golfing, shopping, and dining.

 

Check out our family vacations page for more ideas, and browse our lodging options to find the perfect place for your family’s trip!

The Complete Guide to the Chippewa National Forest

Thursday, March 10th, 2016

In 1908, President Theodore Roosevelt made the Chippewa National Forest the first National Forest east of the Mississippi River. Originally, the Forest was named the Minnesota National Forest but was renamed in 1928 to honor the Ojibwe (or Chippewa) who inhabited the land in the early 1700’s.

The Chippewa National Forest is home to over 1,300 lakes (including two of Minnesota’s largest lakes – Leech Lake and Lake Winnie), 925 miles of river, over 400,000 acres of wetlands, campgrounds and hundreds of miles of hiking and snowmobiling trails.

Camping

Chippewa National Forest has 21 campgrounds that are open from mid-May through mid-September. Depending on the level of camping you would like to do, Chippewa National Forest has campgrounds for every camper. Campsites range from showers and flush toilets to sites with vault toilets and hand pumps. Each campsite is equipped with a picnic table, tent pad and parking spot.

Stony Point Campground is on the shores of Leech Lake and has over 40 campsites for you to choose from. To camp at Stony Point, campsites cost $26 per night. All campsites at Stony Point may be reserved, so book early to get the campsite you want! Stony Point Campground has boat access, a swimming beach and a picnic area.

THE TRAILS

Migizi Trail

Named for the Bald Eagle in Ojibwe, the Migizi Trail is a 19 mile paved loop that surrounds Pike Bay. The trail has four access points – Forest Supervisor’s Office in Cass Lake, the Norway Beach Recreation Area, the South Pike Bay picnic area, and across from the Cass Lake Wayside Rest. Take a portion of the trail for a day hike, or bike the entire trail.

Heartland Trail

The 27 mile long trail goes from Walker to Park Rapids and is one of the oldest paved trails in Northern Minnesota. The portion of the Heartland Trail southwest of Walker is home to beautiful lakes, forest, and wildlife. The Heartland Trail also works to connect other trails and recreation areas, including Chippewa National Forest’s Shingobee Recreation Area.

 

Shingobee Recreation Area

Located just 5 miles southwest over Walker, the Shingobee Recreation Area is a place for various activities including hiking, cross-country skiing, bird watching and camping. After a long day out on the Shingobee, fill up with hearty, authentic, Kansas style BBQ at The Piggy – located in Walker. The Piggy, raved reviewed by the New York Times, is a must stop – but make sure you get there early!

 

ACTIVITIES

In addition to camping and hiking, the Chippewa National Forest has a wide variety of other activities for you and your family to enjoy.

 

Fishing

Home to over 1,000 lakes and miles of river, the Chippewa National Forest is a great place to go fishing. Leech Lake is home to a large Walleye population and can provide you with fresh fish no matter the season. Check out some of our favorite tips on how to master the art of catching walleye. Don’t forget to check our weekly fishing report so you can stay up to date on the best spots to reel in a fish and know exactly what’s biting.

 

Bird Watching

Coniferous forests to the north, hardwood forests to the south, and prairies to the west. The Chippewa National Forest diverse ecosystem makes it a great place to go bird watching and see all types of different birds. Additionally, the Chippewa National Forest has the highest breeding population of Bald Eagles in the continental US. Grab your binoculars, paper and a pen to record what you see and get hiking!

 

Berry Picking

Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries and cranberries can all be found in the Chippewa National Forest. Depending on the time of year and location – you could fill up your bucket with fresh sweet berries. Don’t want to get your hands all sticky? Pick up a berry picker from amazon or any kitchen store to make the process even easier.

 

Plan your trip to the Chippewa National Forest and Leech Lake now! We’ll see you on the trails.