By Jim Umhoefer
Ottertail County. 7 miles east of Pelican Rapids on Highway 108. Highway map index: D-11.
From the crest of Hallaway Hill in Maplewood State Park, the view sweeps over a green-blue world of lakes, fields and woods. Boats below on Lake Lida are like water spiders gliding swiftly across the water, leaving widening wakes behind them. It's peaceful and breezy up here, the kind of place that is tailor-made for relaxed trail lunches and lazy afternoons under blue ski and white puffy cloud.
Maplewood State Park (over 9,000 acres) is blessed with a peaceful natural beauty that encompasses more than 20 lakes interspersed among hilly woodlands, and an extensive trail system. Two of the lakes, Lida and Beers, have drive-in boat landings. Lake Lida also features a guarded swimming beach and a large picnic area that is spread out across a hilly peninsula.
The trail network might be Maplewood's best asset. Over 15 miles of horseback riding trails, laid out in loops, ramble through the park. A century or more fades away as you cross ridgelines and amble into valleys that have changed little since pre-settlement times. Some riders strap a rod on the saddle for fishing breaks at trailside lakes. The trail center in the park is designed for horse campers, although there are currently no buildings or other facilities.
Hikers are also welcome on the riding paths and on the interpretive loops and connecting trails. One self-guiding trail leads visitors through a forest demonstration area where a variety of trees are identified.
Fishing is popular on many of the park's lakes. Anglers on Lake Lida try for walleyes and northerns, while several of the smaller lakes are favorites for pan fish. Ironically, Bass Lake attracts rainbow trout fishermen.