By Jim Umhoefer Trails Reporter
Pipestone County. 6 miles south of Pipestone on Highway 23. Park access is off of County 20.
Highway map index: B-20.
Split Rock Lake, formed in 1938 by a dam on Split Rock Creek, is the only lake in the county. It attracts visitors from Iowa, South Dakota and southwestern Minnesota because of the water sports and park facilities. You can rent boats, canoes and paddleboats.
Some anglers like the action from the fishing pier near the dam on the lake's south end. As Pipestone County's largest body of water, the lake attracts aquatic birds, too. During spring and fall migrations, you'll have a chance to observe almost every species of waterfowl found in the Midwest.
The two-mile trail system in the 400-acre recreation area stretches along the lake's western shoreline, linking the beach and picnic ground with the campground and other park facilities. One trail climbs a hilly slope that remains native prairie. An interpretive center on the hillside features exhibits relating to the prairie and other park resources.
Split Rock Creek's semi-modern campground (28 sites; 14 electric) can be busy during the summer, though midweek visitors may be able to find a site without a reservation. The primitive group camp is available by reservation through the office.
The lake dominates winter fun at this park. Ice-skating is popular, though you may have to clear a path after a snowfall. Fishing huts dot the ice, and snowmobiles-not allowed on park trails-zigzag between them. Cross-country skiers take over the park's hiking trails, stopping at the interpretive center/warming house for breaks.