The club began on April 20, 1991, with 62 parks participating at the time, including Douglas County’s Lake Carlos State Park.
“The purpose of the trails is to encourage visitors to come to the park to explore and discover more of what the park has to offer,” said Allen Lego, park manager at Lake Carlos State Park. “We get new visitors all the time just to hike the trail and get the password.”
To join the club, one has to visit the nature store at any state park and purchase a hiking club booklet. The booklet lists all the state parks in Minnesota and gives information about what to expect at the park and how many miles the park’s club trail is.
Hiking club members use the book to record which park they went to, the trail’s password and how many miles they have hiked. After so many miles, a club member is rewarded. The first reward being a patch once the hiker reaches 25 miles. By 100 miles, the hiker earns a free night of camping in any Minnesota state park. There are 197 miles statewide.
The hiking club password sign, located at about the halfway point on the club trail in Lake Carlos State Park. (Thalen Zimmerman / Echo Press)
Once the hiking club member does all the miles, they receive an engraved plaque and another free night of camping.
“It is fun to have goals. It gives you a reason to get out and explore what Minnesota has to offer. There are so many hidden gems,” said Katie Satterlie, a hiking club member from Alexandria who has been logging miles for eight years. “If it weren’t for the club, I probably wouldn’t have visited so many parks. I love it.”
To date, Satterlie has visited 29 parks, plus the bonus hike, and completed 74.3 miles. She has earned her 25- and 50-mile milestone patches, with the 75-mile patch within reach. She said the club has given her a greater appreciation for Minnesota and recommends everyone join the club. “Just remember to bring extra water and mosquito spray!” she said.
Ed Springer, a full-time RVer with his wife, from Brandon, says he joined the club for exercise and adventure. “It allows me to …….