Parks and Trails Council of Minnesota

Myre-Big Island State Park

This southern Minnesota State Park offers a variety of activities from biking and hiking to bird watching, canoeing and fishing and even features a namesake island with a campground to explore. Myre-Big Island State Park is located 3 miles southeast of Albert Lea in Minnesota’s Freeborn County.

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Myre-Big Island State Park is located 3 miles southeast of Albert Lea in Minnesota's Freeborn County

Myre-Big Island State Park is located 3 miles southeast of Albert Lea in Minnesota’s Freeborn County

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Trails
Myre-Big Island State Park offers a variety of hiking trails on its 16-mile network.
The Esker Trail, in the northern end of the park, features part of the area’s glacial history. An esker is a long, narrow ridge of coarse gravel deposited by a stream flowing through a tunnel under stagnant ice. As the ice melted, the sinuous streambed remained. The retreating glacier left ice blocks that formed shallow lakes and marshes as they melted. What today is Albert Lea Lake was formed this way. The Great Marsh Trail is a favorite with bird watchers who come to observe waterfowl.
Some of the hiking trails are shared with mountain bikes and bikers can take the six-mile, paved Blazing Star State Trail into nearby Albert Lea.
Camping
Myre-Big Island State Park offers a wide range of camping facilities. A large campground with about 60 sites is located on Big Island. Connected to it, on Little Island is a group camp area, but it has walk-in access only. New York Point, on an arrow-tip peninsula of the mainland, is a full-facility group center with a dining hall, kitchen and crafts building.
The park maintains another campground, White Fox, on the mainland. It’s more open than the one on Big Island and has only about 30 sites If you’d like a private camping experience, backpack to one of the park’s four primitive sites, strung along the shoreline of a large peninsula just off one of the hiking trails.
For a less rustic experience, you can rent a seasonal camper cabin with room for five.
Plants and Wildlife
Because of its varied terrain, this park is one of southern Minnesota’s prime birding spots. You’ll see white pelicans, Canada geese and a variety of ducks. Shorebirds and waterfowl are common in the park during summer, as well as hawks hunting rodents in the grassy meadows. The park is also habitat for more than 450 kinds of wildflowers.
Fishing and Boating
Albert Lea Lake attracts summertime anglers who go after Panfish, Carp and Bullheads, but it’s also part of the Shell Rock River state water trail. The route begins at Fountain Lake just northwest of the park, traverses Albert Lea Lake for about five miles and continues for another 15 miles to the Minnesota/Iowa border as the Shell Rock River exits the southeastern end of the lake.
Winter
Snowshoeing is allowed throughout the park, but no groomed trails exist.

Visit these trail-friendly sponsors:

Root River Trail
Harmony Chamber
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