Father Hennepin State Park
Pope Point and Hiking Club Trail

Fall evening at Pope Point

Every fall I try to visit Father Hennepin State Park for a walk along Mille Lacs Lake. The views are long, far off shores painted with birch and maple, rolling water colored blue from the enormous sky.

The wind blows hard across the water, pushing big waves that break along the shore. Geese calling, seagulls crying, waves crashing, all backdropped by the sighing of the wind are the sounds of the big lake.
Away from the lake, the park is quiet, dark under a thick canopy of leaves in the dense forest. Walk quietly and let your gaze wander for a flash of white. Are you ready for a thrill?

From the junction of interstate highway 169 and Minnesota Highway 27 north of Onamia Minnesota, follow MN-27 east 9.2 miles to the entrance to Father Hennepin State Park on the left in the town of Isle.
Follow the park road 1.2 miles to the parking lot for the beach and playground.
There is an entrance station shortly after you enter the park where you will need to pay a park entrance fee.
Coordinates for the hike: 46.1475240,-93.4966560
Parking / Trailhead amenities
The paved parking lot is large, paved, and level. Adjacent to the playground are pit toilets, a volley ball net, a playground, a picnic area, and a swimming beach.
Trail observations
The trail exits the parking lot headed towards the beach along a paved path. Turn left to do the first leg of the hike, a mile long out and back gravel trail to Pope Point. When you reach the picnic grounds on your return from Pope Point, cut across the mowed grass and continue along the sandy beach till you reach a small rocky point.
At the rocky point, leave the beach and continue following the shore, first on a paved trail, and then along a campground road. Continue all the way past the Lakeview campground, where you will finally leave the lake and head up a wooden staircase to the fish cleaning shelter.
At the fish cleaning shelter you will make a short right then left 'V' following the campground road. When you've reached the other side of the campsites, pick up the trail where it enters the woods. The trail makes a big arc through the woods and will bring you back to the parking lot.
The trail is flat, well kept, and easy to walk on. Walking on the beach can be a little hard because of the loose sand - luckily the distance isn't too long.
Trail statistics
The trail is 2.98 miles long. The sum of all the uphill climbs is 155 feet.
Trail waypoints
0.05 miParkingParking lot
0.10 miTrailheadTrailhead
0.14 miGo leftBranch - go left towards the point
0.17 miKeep rightBranch - keep right towards the point
0.30 miBenchBench
0.62 miTee - go leftTee - go left
0.67 miTurnaroundRetrace your steps back to the beach
1.12 miGo to beachGo to the beach and head towards the other point
1.16 miWalk on beachWalk along the beach to the other point
1.38 miLeave beachLeave the beach and follow the paved path left along the shore (bench)
1.47 miBoat launchBoat launch
1.55 miFloating dockFloating dock
1.58 miStay leftBranch - stay left (map)
1.60 miBenchBench
1.78 miLeft on roadTake a left and follow the campground road to the cul de sac
1.93 miClimb stairsClimb the stairs to the fish cleaning shed
1.96 miGo to the far sideTrail is on the far side of campsites - may have to walk along the road to get there
2.02 miEnter trailTake the gravel trail to the left of the sign
2.15 miCross roadCross the main park road and follow the trail
2.27 miBenchSign,Bench
2.34 miStay rightBranch - stay right (map)
2.63 miStay leftBranch - stay left (bench, sign)
2.71 miStay leftStay left along the curve (map)
2.83 miKeep leftBranch - keep left (bench)
2.94 miGo rightTee - go right (map)
2.98 miEnd of trailEnd of trail
Trail map - Pope Point and Hiking Club Trail
Altitude chart - Pope Point and Hiking Club Trail Go left Turnaround Go to beach Walk on beach Floating dock Bench Left on road Climb stairs Go to the far side Enter trail Bench Stay left End of trail
Difficulty: Easy
Terrain : Flat
Trail surface: Grassy
Trail surface: Gravel
Trail surface: Paved
Trail surface: Sandy
Type: Loop
View: Open
View: Shoreline
View: Wooded
County: Mille Lacs
State: Minnesota
Country: United States of America
PDF map
Minnesota DNR park page
Printable trail map in PDF format (35 Mb download)
Printable trail map in PNG format (5 Mb download)
Waypoints in CSV format
Waypoints in KML format
Instructions on using a trail description page
Instructions on using a trail map printout
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