Exploring Big Marine Park Reserve: A Natural Gem

Big Marine Park Reserve

Greetings from the beautiful outdoors! Today, we will explore the Big Marine Park Reserve’s natural beauty and recreational options.

Situated on the St. Croix between Hugo and Marine in northern Washington County, this park reserve is a magnificent example of the diversity and grandeur of nature.

Be it a passionate wildlife enthusiast, an enthusiastic bird watcher, or someone who enjoys nature’s peace, Big Marine Park Reserve has something to offer everyone.

There are plenty of things to do for guests of all ages, from the playground’s massive climbing rock and 18-foot slide to the family-friendly swimming beach on Big Marine Lake.

Nothing beats having a fun-filled holiday where all you do is hike, boat, fish, or cool off in the waters during the summer heat. Do you prefer birdwatching or nature walks? The Big Marine Park Reserve is the ideal spot.

Now, let’s explore and find out why outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers should take advantage of Big Marine Park Reserve!

Things to Know Before You Go

Exploring Big Marine Park Reserve: A Natural Gem

Here are some crucial things you should know before you visit.

Reserve: 1,800 acres

Location: 17495 Manning Trail North Marine on St. Croix, MN 55047

Seasons opened

  • Open in Summer
  •  Open in Winter


  • Bicycling
  •  Canoe/Kayak Launch
  •  Cross-country ski trails
  •  Fishing Pier
  •  Grilling Area
  •  Hiking Trails
  •  Motorized Boat Launch
  •  Multi-Use Trails
  •  Park Office
  •  Paved Trails
  •  Pavilion
  •  Playground
  •  Self-Service Pay Station
  •  Snowmobile Trails
  •  Swimming Beach

Recreational activities

  • Swimming
  •  Hiking
  •  Boating
  •  Wildlife viewing
  •  Snorkeling
  •  Relaxing
  •  Picnicking
  •  Camping etc. 


  • Wheelchair-accessible car park
  •  Wheelchair-accessible entrance

Campground Type

  • Ground moraine, upland, and wetland


  • Washington County Parks Vehicle Permit – Daily: $7
  •  Washington County Parks Vehicle Permit – Annual: $30

Boat launch hours

Between 6 a.m. – 11 p.m

Wildlife species

  • White-tailed deer – Red fox
  •  Eastern cottontail rabbit
  •  Gray squirrel (Raccoon)
  •  Beaver – Otter
  •  Eastern box turtle
  •  Painted turtle – Bullfrog
  •  Great blue heron
  •  Bald eagle – Osprey
  •  Wild turkey      
  •  Red-tailed hawk
  •  Barred owl
  •  American woodcock
  •  Eastern Bluebird


  • Eastern tiger swallowtail butterfly
  •  Monarch butterfly
  •  Black swallowtail butterfly

Flowers and Plants

  • Purple coneflower
  •  Common milkweed
  •  Black-eyed Susan
  •  Wild bergamot
  •  Swamp milkweed
  •  Virginia bluebell
  •  Yellow lady’s slipper orchid
  •  Trillium       
  •  Jack-in-the-pulpit
  •  Wild Columbine


  • Good for kids
  •  Kid-friendly hikes
  •  Playground available

Contact information

Main number: 651-430-8200

Email: [email protected]

Official Closing Days

  • January 16: Martin Luther King Jr. Day
  • February 20: President’s Day
  • April 9: Easter
  • September 4: Labor Day
  • November 11: Veterans Day
  • November 12: the day after Veterans Day
  • November 23: Thanksgiving
  • November 24: the day after Thanksgiving
  • December 25: Christmas Day
  • January 1, 2024: New Year’s Day

Operational hours

Days of the WeekOpening HoursClosing Hours
Mon – Fri6:00 am10:00 am
Sat – Sun6:00 am10:00 am

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Brief History and Background

Exploring Big Marine Park Reserve: A Natural Gem

Big Marine Park Reserve is a picturesque natural area in Washington County, Minnesota. Established in 1972, the park encompasses around 1,800 acres of rolling hills, pristine lakes, and dense woodlands.

The park, which the county initially bought to create a public recreation area, has become a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts.

The park’s history dates back to the early 20th century when the area was primarily used for farming and logging. Over time, the land transitioned to recreational use, offering various activities such as hiking, camping, fishing, and boating.

Its diverse ecosystems support a variety of wildlife, making it a popular spot for birdwatching and nature observation.

Efforts to preserve the park’s natural beauty and ecological significance have been ongoing, with conservation initiatives and community involvement playing crucial roles. The Big Marine Park Reserve is an escape from urban life and a connection to the region’s natural heritage.

What to do When You Visit

Exploring Big Marine Park Reserve: A Natural Gem

Here are some of the many things you could do when you visit Big Marine Park Reserve:

Hiking and Nature Trails

Through hiking trails, you can explore the park’s beautiful landscapes and diverse ecosystems. Visitors can enjoy stunning views of the surrounding nature and spot some wildlife.

Boating and Fishing

Big Marine is a good fishing spot where you can use the park’s water access for boating, kayaking, or fishing. The park’s water bodies offer an excellent opportunity to enjoy water-based activities.


Have you ever considered where you can spend quality time with family and friends? Big Marine has a designated picnic area where you can unwind, pack a picnic, and spend a leisurely day in the great outdoors.

Wildlife Watching

The park is home to various wildlife, including birds, deer, and more. Bring your binoculars and camera to capture some incredible moments. It’s sure going to be fun as you explore wildlife habitats. 

Educational Programs

Check if the park offers any educational programs or guided tours. Learning about the park’s history, ecology, and conservation efforts can enrich your visit.

Nearby Attractions

Some unique nearby attractions offer a mix of outdoor adventures, water-based activities, and serene spots to enjoy nature in the Big Marine Park Reserve vicinity. They are as follows:

Lake Elmo

Lake Elmo is a picturesque lake known for its recreational opportunities. Tourists often visit for boating, fishing, and picnicking. The surrounding area might have hiking trails and scenic spots to enjoy nature.

Hardwood Creek Regional Trail

This trail offers a scenic route for winter hiking, biking, and even cross-country skiing. It’s a great way to explore the area’s natural beauty and stay active.

Croix River

The St. Croix River is a beautiful river forming part of Minnesota and Wisconsin’s border. It’s known for its stunning views, water-based activities like kayaking and canoeing, and the chance to experience the riverside charm of nearby towns.

Big Marine Lake

Big Marine Lake is another lovely lake in the region, perfect for fishing, boating, and relaxing by the water.

Vets Rest Camp

Vets Rest Camp is a campsite or recreational area dedicated to veterans. It serves as a peaceful campsite for camping, connecting with nature, and participating in outdoor activities.

Read more: Woodward Reservoir Camping: Unwind and Connect with Nature’s Beauty

Rules and Regulations: Big Marine Park Reserve

Exploring Big Marine Park Reserve: A Natural Gem

The Big Marine Park Reserve has specific rules and regulations in place for the enjoyment of all visitors. However, compliance with these rules and regulations may result in penalties or expulsion from the park premises.

Parking Policy

  • Vehicles must be parked only in designated parking areas.
  • Follow all posted speed limits within the park premises.
  • Only overnight parking is allowed with prior permission.
  • Accessible parking spots are reserved for vehicles with valid permits.

Pets Policy

  • Pets are allowed in designated areas only and must always be on a leash.
  • Owners are responsible for cleaning up after their pets.
  • Aggressive or disruptive pets must be removed from the park immediately.
  • Exotic pets and animals that may disturb wildlife are not allowed.

Reservation and Cancellation Policy

  • Park reservations must be made in advance through the official booking system.
  • Reservation cancellations must be made 48 hours before the scheduled visit for a full refund.
  • No-shows or cancellations made less than 48 hours in advance will not be eligible for a refund.
  • Reservations are exclusive to the person or group named in the booking and are non-transferable.

Wildlife and Environment

  • Do not disturb, feed, or approach wildlife within the park.
  • Stay on marked trails and paths to avoid disrupting natural habitats.
  • No hunting, fishing, or removal of plants, rocks, or artifacts is allowed.
  • Properly dispose of trash and recyclables in designated containers.

Noise and Behavior Policy

  • Respect the park’s quiet hours, especially during the evening and early morning.
  • Loudspeakers, radios, or other noisy devices should not disturb other visitors.
  • Disorderly conduct, including vandalism and public intoxication, will not be tolerated.
  • Abide by all posted signs and warnings to ensure personal safety.

Camping and Fires Policy

  • Camping is allowed only in designated camping areas.
  • Campfires are permitted only in designated fire pits or grilling areas.
  • Campfires must be fully extinguished before leaving the site or going to sleep.
  • Follow fire safety guidelines and park staff instructions to prevent accidental fires.

Before You Go…

In the heart of Minnesota lies the remarkable Big Marine Park Reserve, a haven for those seeking an unforgettable holiday escape. The park offers a spectrum of activities throughout the year, from invigorating hikes to tranquil boating and fishing.

Nature enthusiasts can enjoy birdwatching and nature walks, surrounded by the reserve’s pristine beauty. Whether hiking, boating, or simply cooling off in its waters, this reserve promises a memorable retreat, making it a must-visit destination for nature lovers and holiday seekers alike.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can I bring my pet to Big Marine Park Reserve?

Yes, pets are allowed in designated areas of the park, but they must be kept on a leash at all times. However, only assist/guide dogs are usually allowed as pets in the reserve.

Can I engage in birdwatching at Big Marine Park Reserve?

Yes, you can. The park’s diverse ecosystems make it an excellent spot for birdwatching. With various bird species residing in the area, you can bring your binoculars and enjoy observing the local avian inhabitants.

Are there any accessibility features for visitors with disabilities?

Yes, they are. Big Marine Park Reserve provides accessible facilities and experiences for all visitors. This might include wheelchair-accessible trails, ramps, accessible restrooms, and more.

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