Sibley State Park
By Jim Umhoefer
Sibley State Park is named after Minnesota’s first governor, Henry H. Sibley, who used to hunt the area. Mount Tom, Andrew Lake and the surrounding land became a state park with the help of Peter Broberg, who was the only member of the Daniel Broberg family to survive the U.S. Dakota Conflict of 1862.
Sibley State Park is located 15 miles north of Willmar on the Glacial Ridge Trail Scenic Byway in Minnesota’s Kandiyohi County.
For bicyclists, there is a designated trail that winds from the interpretive center parking lot down to Lake Andrew and along the lake shore. The 22-mile, paved Glacial Lakes State Trail passes through New London five miles outside the park and can be reached by biking on road shoulders.
French and Indian fur traders used Mount Tom as a lookout when they traveled the Red River Trail with fur-laden oxcarts. Each spring, they ventured into the prairie wilderness from Pembina, North Dakota, on their way to St. Paul to sell their furs.
The countryside around Mount Tom is more wooded now than when the Dakota scouted the horizon. Hardwood trees took over former grassland after the settlers came and prairie fires were brought under control. Within the park, you can see remnants of the once-vast grassy sea on the knolls that were never plowed. These knolls, like Mount Tom, were born of the boulders, sand and gravel deposited by the last glacier. As you explore the park, you’ll see several lakes, like Andrew Lake, which were left behind as the glacier retreated.
Sibley’s eight miles of cross-country ski trails are rated intermediate to challenging and are long enough to give you a good workout. 2.5 miles are also groomed for skate skiing. Just outside the interpretive center is an action-packed inner-tube hill for those who enjoy sliding downhill. Snowshoeing is allowed anywhere in the park except on groomed trails.
More about skiing at Sibley State Park