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Glendalough State Park

By Jim Umhoefer
Prior to becoming a state park in the mid-1990s, this nearly 2,800-acre mix of elm and basswood forests, fields, hills and unspoiled lakes had been managed as a natural wildlife preserve and land stewardship continues to be a hallmark of Glendalough State Park. Glendalough State Park is located about 4 miles north of Battle Lake just off the Otter Trail Scenic Byway in Minnesota’s Otter Tail County.

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Sunset over Annie Battle Lake at Glendalough State Park

Sunset over Annie Battle Lake

Cattails are a constant companion on a walk around the lakes at Glendalough State Park

Cattails are a constant companion on a walk around the lakes

A spring hike at Glendalough State Park

A spring hike at Glendalough

A paved trail rounds Annie Battle Lake and connects to nearby Battle Lake at Glendalough State Park

A paved trail rounds Annie Battle Lake and connects to nearby Battle Lake

Big skies on the prairie at Glendalough State Park

Big skies on the prairie

Picnic area near the beach at Annie Battle Lake

Picnic area near the beach at Annie Battle Lake

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Trails
Hikers at Glendalough State Park can enjoy the park’s diverse landscapes on nine miles of trails along Sunset, Molly Stark, Annie Battle, Blanche and Emma Lakes. Another two miles of interpretive trails tell the story of the prairie and the area’s cultural and natural history. Terrain ranges from flat to hilly. A paved 5.5-mile bike trail loops around Molly Stark and Annie Battle Lakes and has a spur connecting the park to the nearby town of Battle Lake. Two miles of trail are available for mountain biking.

Glendalough Trail at Glendalough State Park

Glendalough Trail

Hiking the Ice Ridge Trail between Blanche and Emma Lakes at Glendalough State Park

Hiking the Ice Ridge Trail between Blanche and Emma Lakes

Camping
Camping at Glendalough State Park is a unique experience. All 22 sites and the four camper cabins are cart-in only, which means you have to bring all of your gear in by wheeled cart and no vehicle traffic in the campground or by the cabins. Sites are generally wooded and quiet. Another three canoe/bike/hike-in sites offer a true getaway experience on the southeastern shore of Annie Battle Lake. For a less rustic experience the park also offers two yurts, accessible on foot or by bike.
History
Glendalough was established as an 80-acre camping retreat in 1927. Named for a monastery and city in Ireland, Glendalough was first owned by Fred Murphy, publisher of the Minneapolis Tribune. During the Depression, Murphy expanded the original acreage, establishing a turkey and game farm. When the Cowles family purchased the Tribune in 1941, Glendalough came with it. The family soon started vacationing here in a cluster of cabins known as the Glendalough Camp. Cowles Media also used Glendalough Camp for entertaining corporate guests and occasional VIPs. Visitors hunted waterfowl and walked the fields for upland game.
Wildlife
Birdwatchers can take advantage of two wildlife observation blinds and hike out to observe an active eagle nest.

A park naturalist with spotting scopes near the eagles nest at Glendalough State Park

A park naturalist with spotting scopes near the eagles nest

April is a great time to observe eaglets in the nest at Glendalough State Park

April is a great time to observe eaglets in the nest

Fishing
Annie Battle Lake is home to sunfish, crappie, bass and walleye and is a designated ‘Heritage Fishery’, meaning no motorized boats are allowed on the lake and special fishing regulations apply. This makes for a quiet, old-time fishing experience and ensures a sustainable, steady supply of fish.
Winter

Cross-country skiers have access to eight miles of groomed trails at Glendalough State Park. Snowshoeing is allowed throughout the park except on groomed ski trails. Park visitors can warm up in the visitor center or the lodge building.
More about skiing at Glendalough State Park

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