MNDNR license plate

McCarthy Beach State Park

By Jim Umhoefer
McCarthy Beach State Park covers 2,500 acres, but most visitors get only as far as the shoreline, picnic area and campground on the narrow isthmus between Sturgeon and Side Lake. The swimming beach is a very popular destination with its one-half mile long shoreline and shallow waters that reach hundreds of feet into the lake. McCarthy Beach State Park is located near Side Lake in Minnesota’s St. Louis County.

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McCarthy Beach State Park is located near Side Lake in Minnesota's St. Louis County

McCarthy Beach State Park is located near Side Lake in Minnesota’s St. Louis County

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Trails
About 18 miles of hiking trails wind through the forested ridge tops and valleys of the park, terrain well worth exploring for its abundant wildlife. More than 175 species of birds and three-dozen species of mammals live in or near the park.
Visitors on mountain bikes can also explore county roads inside the park and get in about 17 miles of riding. Equestrians enjoy 16 miles of horseback trails. Most of the trail system in the park is shared. In addition, the Taconite State Trail, a natural surface trail between Grand Rapids and Ely, travels through the park and offers 165 miles of additional hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding.
Camping
The main campground on Side Lake offers 86 sites. There are an additional three walk-in sites at Beatrice Lake Campground and a group site offers room for 40. There are no horse camping facilities in the park, but a connecting trail will take equestrians to Stony Brook Horse Camp, about nine miles away.
Winter
Snowshoeing is allowed throughout the park, but no groomed trails exist.

Visit these trail-friendly sponsors:

Visit Duluth in the winter
Mesabi Trail
Spirit Mountain
Parks and Trails Council of Minnesota

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