By Jim Umhoefer
Mower County. 1.5 miles north of LeRoy on County 14. Highway map index: L-21.
As Minnesota's southernmost state park, Lake Louise is an attractive introduction to the recreational pleasures of the state. Families will find a peaceful lake setting for picnicking, swimming or hiking.
Weekends draw the most people to the park, but you can lose the crowds by exploring the 11 miles of foot trails. Horseback riders can wander through the park on 10 miles of trails (equestrian campsites are available). When you return to the picnic area, take time to visit the Hambrecht Historical Cottage and Museum.
The museum used to be the summer cottage of the Hambrecht family, which donated the land that later became Lake Louise State Park (named for a family member). When the Hambrechts homesteaded near here, the land supported a mixture of hardwood timber and lush prairie. A gristmill was built next to the present dam, and the town of LeRoy prospered nearby. The town relocated 2 miles south when the railroad came through.
Originally known as Wildwood Park, Lake Louise benefits from active community support. Old Wildwood Days are still celebrated early in June, and the Lake Louise State Park Association was formed to preserve and improve the park.
A small bridge just beyond the lakefront provides access to most of the park's trail system. This is also a shortcut to the campground. The semi-modern campground has 22 campsites (11 electric).
Lake Louise state Park's 2 miles of beginner cross-country ski trails are a good place for your family to learn how to ski. Snowmobilers can tour the park on a 9-mile trail system. Lake Louise is also a prime spot for winter solitude and wildlife photography. The park has become a traditional wintering area for white-tailed deer.