Lake Bronson State Park

The Oak Savanna 

The Park: Lake Bronson State Park was one of many state parks across the country to be build by the Works Progress Administration (WPA), a Great Depression organization meant to creat jobs for young men. Like Hayes Lake, Lake Bronson is artificial. It was creates with a WPA build - the largest WPA project in the state. A number of other WPA structures were build in the park and the community of Lake Bronson hoped the park would become "a second Itasca" - (Itasca State Park is the oldest and most well known park in the system with over half a million visitors annually). Funds ran out, however, and the planned projects were never completed. Distance and obscurity mean Lake Bronson receives only a fraction of Itasca's visitors, but it is an exceptional park, nevertheless. 

Near where the trail starts at the boat launch there is this great little bayou. 

There are two main sections to the park - the lake and the parklands. The lake campground, where I stayed, is not private and filled with RV's, but being on the shore makes up for this. People all over the region use the lake recreationally and it was filled with jet skis, waterskiers, and fishermen. You can find lakes almost anywhere in the state, however, and it's the parklands that make this area unique. Oak savannas and aspen parklands rare in the state, but Lake Bronson has them abundantly. It is the best park in the system to see a moose and the only one that still has the occasional elk.

Sunset over Lake Bronson 

The Trail: Because of flooding, I was only able to do part of the Hiking Club trail (although I made it to the password!), but I made up for it by exploring many of the other trails in the park. Technically, you're supposed to begin the hiking club trail at the picnic grounds, but since that was underwater, I started at the boat launch. Follow the Aspen Parklands Interpretive Trail into the prairie. Watch out for divebombing swallows if you wander too close to their nests. The trail them loops into the woods (the mosquito infested woods). Groves of aspen mixed with oak and maple will lead you to the lake. Continue along the lake shore to the boat landing. While the lake is beautiful, it is hard to see from the trail and I preferred to spend my time on the prairie. I even retraced the path back onto the prairie and followed to the sand dunes and pioneer graveyard at the extreme northern section of the park. To me the woods and lake were lackluster, but the prairie and oak savanna made up for it and this was easily my favorite trail in the northwestern parks. 

The Hiking Club Trail. 

The Drive: I always love coming to an intersection and seeing an arrow pointing right with the word "Canada" below it. Lake Bronson State Park is considerably closer to Winnipeg than to the Twin Cities and I got the feeling that Hwy 59 - the route off of which Lake Bronson can be found - is mostly an express route to Winnipeg. It does pass through a number of great small towns, however, all of which claim to be the Moose Capitol of the North. I never saw a moose. 

The CCC Watertower. Lake Bronson was host to one of the largest CCC Camps in the state.