Afton State Park in Minnesota

I’ve hiked all 66 Minnesota state parks from A to Z – literally from Afton State Park in Hastings, Minnesota to Zippel Bay State Park way up north on Lake of the Woods in Williams, MN. Afton State Park is one of the best state parks for hiking, stunning views, boating, swimming, fishing, camping, picnicking, birdwatching, and more.

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Top things to do at Afton State Park in Minnesota

Afton State Park in Minnesota

With 16,000 diverse acres and a shoreline along the St. Croix River, you’ll find lots of things to do at Afton State Park – one of the best state parks in Minnesota.

Here’s a curated local’s guide and list of the top 10 things to do at Afton State Park.

  1. Hike more than 20 miles of trails that take you over a rolling glacial moraine, historic bridges, over to bluffs and through hardwoods, pines, wildflowers, and prairie grasses, as well as a sand bar along the river.  
  2. You’ll find an additional four miles of paved biking trails and five miles of horseback trails.
  3. Take in breathtaking views at one of several scenic overlooks as high as 300 feet above the St. Croix River Valley – ravines created by glacial meltwater.
  4. Swim at the uncrowded beach in the calm bay along the St. Croix River.
  5. Go fishing off the fishing pier.
  6. While you won’t find a drive-in boat ramp, you can access the park by boat via one of the designed boat beaches.
  7. Home to more than 190 species of birds, Afton State Park is perfect for birdwatchers – also look for other wildlife including deer, fox, badgers, and more.
  8. Walk through the beautiful prairie restorative area interpretative trail – less than a half-mile loop.
  9. In the winter, you can cross-country ski or snowshoe 12 miles of groomed trails – and rent snowshoes from the park office. One mile of the paved bike trail is cleared for winter hiking.
  10. Learn more about the beautiful and historic Afton State Park at the Visitor Center with interpretive displays; typically open 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Frequently asked questions about Afton State Park in Hastings, Minnesota

Afton State Park in Minnesota

Where is Afton State Park located? What is the address for Afton State Park?

Afton State Park is located at 6959 Peller Avenue in Hastings, Minnesota.

When is Afton State Park open?

Afton State Park is open year-round, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.

How much does it cost to visit Afton State Park?

An annual pass to all 66 Minnesota state parks and 9 Minnesota state recreation areas is very affordable – only $35 a year with discounts for multiple vehicles ($26 and expire same month as first vehicle) and $30 a year for motorcycles. And daily passes are only $7 per vehicle or $5 per motorcycle (with unlimited park visits on the same day). Check the Minnesota DNR website for the most up-to-date costs.

New in 2022! Free admission to every Minnesota state park every day for Minnesota state tribal members. Many Minnesota state parks are home to sacred Native American sacred sites. Previously, tribal members could visit designated state parks with sacred sites; however, to improve tribal relationships with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR), legislation passed to provide open admission to all Minnesota tribal nations beginning in 2022. Long overdue.

See when you can visit Minnesota state parks for free.

Does Afton State Park have a lake, river, or waterfall?

Afton State Park in Minnesota

Afton State Park is set along the St. Croix River.

Does Afton State Park have a beach? How big is the beach at Afton State Park?

Afton State Park in Minnesota

Afton State Park features a small and quiet swimming beach right next to a beautiful picnic area along the St. Croix River. While there is no lifeguard, you will find the shallow and calm section of the river sectioned off with buoys. Take caution when swimming in rivers, as the currents are swift.

Is Afton State Park buggy? Mosquitos? Ticks?

We hiked Afton State Park on a very hot and humid day, and I didn’t find it buggy with mosquitos or ticks.

Box of DEET-free mosquito repellent wipes
I cannot recommend Aunt Fannie’s DEET-free Mosquito Wipes highly enough. I am a mosquito magnet, but they stay away when I apply these wipes. My link does include a referral code, which means I’ll receive a small compensation – but I only recommend products and services I would use myself. And I definitely use Aunt Fannie’s – I bought a case of them and give to family and friends. And they smell good and are good for the environment – biodegradable and no harsh chemicals!

See my full review of what to pack on a day hike.

Can you fish at Afton State Park?

Afton State Park in Minnesota

Yes, you can definitely fish at Afton State Park. You’ll find a fishing pier / boat dock near the swimming area. Even though there is a trail called Trout Brook Lake, it’s not ideal conditions for trout fishing. Restoration efforts are underway.

Does Afton State Park have drive-up boat ramp?

No, Afton State Park does not offer a drive-up boat ramp. But you can portage smaller boats from the parking lot to the fishing pier / boat dock (about a half-mile).

How long and how difficult are the hiking trails at Afton State Park?

Afton State Park in Minnesota

With 20 miles of trails, you can design your own hiking adventure by duration and difficulty. Trails range from flat, crushed gravel, to rolling terrain, to prairies to more challenging, steep packed dirt. Distances on these trails range from 0.4 miles to nearly 6 miles.

Afton State Park in Minnesota

Are hiking poles needed on the trails at Afton State Park?

Afton State Park in Minnesota

While I hiked without my trekking poles during our summer hike at Afton State Park, my husband did bring his. They weren’t needed most of the time, but you may want hiking poles on the steeper terrain on the Trout Brook Loop or Deer Valley Loop.

What are the best views at Afton State Park?

Afton State Park in Minnesota

My favorite view at Afton State Park is the Northeast Overlook. And I believe this is the location where Oliver Charley, an early settler and conservationist who originally owned 96 acres of the park, built a honeymoon cabin – a second home.

You’ll find several other scenic outlooks throughout the 20 miles of trails at Afton State Park.

Afton State Park in Minnesota

Does Afton State Park have a visitor center? Modern restrooms?

Yes, Afton State Park has a visitor center, which is typically open 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. throughout the year. You will find modern restrooms with flush toilets at the visitor center and park office when open. Additional vault toilets are open year-round near the picnic and camping areas.

Can you camp at Afton State Park?

Yes, rustic backpacking campsites, cabins, and yurts are available year-round at Afton State Park. You’ll even find one canoe campsite. Note that you will not find any drive-in sites, RV sites, electric sites nor showers at the Afton State Park campground.

Note: Bridge repair construction is planned at Afton State Park on Sept. 11-25, 2022. Watch for one-lane traffic control. Afton State Park will not accept camping or lodging reservations during this time.

Is Afton State Park dog-friendly?

Yes, leashed dogs and pets are welcome at Afton State Park except in the swimming beach area and inside buildings.

Will Afton State Park close during deer-hunting season?

Yes, typically Afton State Park hosts a deer hunt in early November. Watch for 2022 dates when Afton State Park will close, and check the MN DNR website for the latest updates.

How far is Afton State Park from the Twin Cities – Minneapolis and St. Paul (MSP) airport?

Afton State Park is considered part of the Twin Cities metro area. It is located 26 miles from the Minneapolis – St. Paul (MSP) Airport.

What’s nearby Afton State Park?

You’ll find additional recreational areas near Afton State Park, including:

  • St. Croix River – it’s right there
  • Afton Alps Ski Area is next door (skiing and snowboarding in the winter)
  • Wisconsin is right across the river.
  • Downtown St. Paul, the capital of Minnesota, is only 20 miles away.
  • Mall of America is 25 miles away from Afton State Park.

When was Afton State Park established?

Afton State Park was established in 1969. Oliver Charley, an early settler and conservationist, purchased 96 acres of land that is now part of Afton State Park. He planted 10,000 trees in 1923 to help stop soil erosion.

Who or what was Afton State Park named after?

While Afton State Park has a Hastings, Minn. address, it’s actually located just south of the town Afton. According to the Washington County (MN) Historical Society, Afton was named by settlers as a tribute to a Robert Burns poem called Afton Water. However, Afton was first known as Catfish Bar in reference to the large sandbar in the St. Croix River.

My travel blogger friend Wendy with Perth Travelers (Australia adventures), inspired me to include this sentiment. I would like to respectfully acknowledge the traditional owners, first people, and tribal nations of these lands. As we visit Minnesota state parks, let’s pay respect to the elders past, present, and future, for they hold the memories, the traditions, the culture, and hopes of their tribal nations.

Minnesota foliage finder

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List of all 66 Minnesota state parks

Afton State Park in Minnesota

Below is a list of all 66 Minnesota state parks and the distance from the Twin Cities / MSP International Airport.

Pin it for later: A local’s guide to hiking at Afton State Park in Minnesota

Afton State Park in Minnesota

Afton State Park in Minnesota

Twin Cities-based blogger sharing memorable emptynester, solo, family and girlfriend-getaway adventures, as well as my day hiking adventures (including all 66 Minnesota state parks), latest book reviews, and updates on my quest for the best adult mac and cheese. Also two WIPs: historical fiction and psychological thriller


  1. I love to hike. I’ve never visited Minnesota, but if I ever make it there, I will use your guide and hike Afton State Park. With its 20 miles of trails and it being close to the airport, it may be worth it to take a long weekend sometime.

    1. Afton State Park is a beautiful place to hike! And I hope you get to visit the Twin Cities and hike at one of the most scenic state parks in Minnesota.

  2. Looks like there’s lots of great things to do at Afton State Park! And I love that your annual park pass is only $35! That’s so reasonable for all you can do in Minnesota!

    1. The annual Minnesota State Park is so affordable. And Afton State Park is a great place to hike near the Twin Cities.

  3. Love a locals guide to any area which I’ve not visited before. This guide from a local to the Afton State Park in MN is one that I would certainly put to good use!

  4. Afton State Park looks like a wonderful place to do a lot of outdoor recreation in Minnesota. You mentioned that you can snowshoe in the winter. I wondered if you’ve tried that. Sounds like fun.

  5. The water at Afton State Park looks so inviting! It is so hot, and a swim sounds pretty great right about now. The hiking looks fun, too, though right now, I’d follow it up with a swim.

    1. That’s a great idea! Especially at Afton State Park – lots of beautiful and scenic hiking trails and nice swimming beach.

  6. It’s great that this park has so many hiking trails as well as a beautiful lake to relax next to. Seems like a great day trip area!

  7. What is it about a bench in the woods that just quietly whispers, “you need to be here.” I really appreciate your list of the best things to do at Afton, especially good to know how many miles of hiking is there.

    1. I agree! Those benches in the woods are so inviting! I loved hiking at Afton State Park – one of the best places in Minnesota!

  8. You keep teasing me with great State Parks in Minnesota. Afton State Park looks like another great one with lots of outdoor fun. Even better that there are some great views when we take a break and want to relax.

  9. I have friends and family that live near Hastings! Afton State Park sounds like a perfect day trip for our next visit 🙂

  10. Afton State Park looks like a beautiful place to explore! I’d love to hike the trails and admire the scenery! Thanks for the great guide!

  11. Afton State Park looks like a place you do not want to miss out on! Minnesota State Parks are amazing!

  12. Well done on visiting all of the Minnesota State Parks! That is really cool now you are a super-expert!

    I like the sound of the Afton State Park Northeast Overlook – what a fab place to build a honeymoon cabin! It’s a shame it is not still there!!

    1. Thank you so much! It was a fun adventure and challenge to hike all 66 Minnesota state parks! I agree – that overlook would be perfect for a honeymoon cabin in Afton State Park.

  13. I love hiking and this park looks like the perfect place to spend the day! Thank you so much for sharing such a helpful guide! (btw, your photos are gorgeous) 🙂

    1. Thank you so kindly! Any my pleasure to share this guide to Afton State Park in Minnesota – lots of things to do especially hiking.

  14. The Afton State Park looks like a great place to stay in nature and spend some amazing time for couples or families! Lakes and trials give you the chance for being active or just relax! Great article!

    1. Thank you so much! Afton State Park is one of my favorite places to hike in Minnesota – love the 20 miles of hiking trails – and they are all so different.

  15. I would love those hiking trails and enjoying the beautiful river views. Minnesota seems lovely. one day I will make it up that way.

    1. I hope you get the opportunity to visit Minnesota. It is quite lovely with lots of hiking at Afton State Park especially.

  16. We love visiting state parks! Afton State Park will go on our list for Minnesota for sure!! Thank you for sharing the list of all 66 state parks.

  17. Visiting state parks has become our new favorite thing. They’re so less crowded but none the less beautiful 😍 Thanks for sharing this one, I’m adding it to our list!

    1. Thank you and my pleasure! I love hiking our Minnesota state parks and Afton State Park is one of the best near the Twin Cities.

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