Of all the state parks in Minnesota, a handful always find a way to the top of my list when looking for a weekend away.
Enter, Father Hennepin State Park in Isle.
Located on the southeast shore of Mille Lacs Lake, the hideaway park is gorgeous.
Long, sandy beaches and rocky shoreline; a campground and picnic site with panoramic views; windy hiking trails mixed into the marsh and pine – hard to beat that list on a warm day.
If you are in the area, I recommend checking out the Pope Point overlook located at the end of the hiking trails.
You can bask in the stunning sunset or you can be like me and hang out with the sandpipers while they peck at the water in search of small prey.
Interesting fact about the park moniker: The park is named after Father Louis Hennepin, a priest who visited the area with a French expedition in 1680.
While he didn’t actually make it to the area that is now the park, he was the first to write about the Mille Lacs area.
In the spring of 1680 he and two companions encountered a group of Dakota Native Americans and were captured, about 15 miles from today’s Father Hennepin State Park.
Their release was negotiated eight months later by Daniel Greysolon, Sieur du Lhut (Duluth’s namesake).
Throughout the experience, Father Hennepin kept a journal describing the lakes, rivers, landscapes, and the lifestyle of his hosts, the Mdewakanton Dakota.
In 1683 his writings were published in the book Description de la Louisiane.