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Flandrau State Park

By Jim Umhoefer
Flandrau State Park retains its natural character even though it’s just a short walk or bike ride from residential areas in New Ulm. The park is bounded by steep, wooded slopes that guide the Cottonwood River on its curvy course. The river wanders through bottomland forest and grassy openings, past oxbow lakes and marshes where it used to flow. Flandrau is a heavy day-use park. The sand-bottom swimming beach draws sun worshippers for long afternoons of sunbathing and swimming. Flandrau State Park is located in New Ulm in Minnesota’s Brown County.

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The river valley lights up with fall colors at Flandrau State Park

The river valley lights up with fall colors

Fall colors at Flandrau State Park

Fall colors at Flandrau

Restored CCC stone cabin at Flandrau State Park

Restored CCC stone cabin

Beach house at the swimming beach at Flandrau State Park

Beach house at the swimming beach

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Trails
Flandrau’s eight-mile system of hiking trails are a great way to explore the river valley. The Oxbow Trail is a loop that leads you into the lowland world of the Cottonwood River. This is a one-mile self-guided interpretive trail where hikers can learn about some of the natural features of the park.

A fall walk at Flandrau State Park

A fall walk at Flandrau State Park

Camping
The campground has 84 drive-in and three walk-in sites as well as a rustic camp area with 36 sites. The group center on the south side of the river has eight barracks and a mess hall with a full kitchen. For a less rustic experience you can rent one of two camper cabins or a restored CCC stone cabin.

Interior of the CCC stone cabin at Flandrau State Park

Interior of the CCC stone cabin

History
Flandrau, known originally as Cottonwood River State Park, was named for Charles E. Flandrau, a prominent lawyer and Indian agent of the Minnesota River country during the 1860s. During the U.S. Dakota Conflict of 1862, he organized a company of volunteers that helped to repel Indian attacks on the frontier town of New Ulm. Some of the handsome park buildings in the campground, beach and office areas were constructed of native stone during the WPA years and housed German POWs during WWII.
Winter

Cross-country skiing is the most popular winter activity at Flandrau. Though the park grooms about 6 miles of ski trails and two miles of snowshoe trails, some prefer to forge their own paths though the river bottomlands. The stone beach house serves as a warming house for trail users.
More about skiing at Flandrau State Park

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