In 1943 the 18,000-acre St. Croix Recreational Demonstration Area became Minnesota’s twenty-fourth state park. Additional land acquisitions have since made St. Croix State Park Minnesota’s largest state park, with over 34,000 acres. There are 127 miles of hiking trails, though most of those are shared with horseback riders. Most of the park is oak woodland, but closer inspection shows it to be a mosaic of 27 different native plant communities, including a rare jack pine barrens. Fourteen plant species with protected status in Minnesota are found here, including butternut, American ginseng, and Hill’s thistle.
Visitors to the park this week (June 14 to 20) will see Canada mayflower and Allegheny blackberry at their peak, as well as many white admiral and silvery checkerspot butterflies.