Pope's Point at Father Hennepin State Park in Minnesota on Mille Lacs Lake sunset

One of the best lakefront state parks in Minnesota, Father Hennepin State Park offers scenic views, a long, sandy beach, boating, camping, fishing, and more. Set on the idyllic Mille Lacs lake – the second largest lake in Minnesota, you’ll find lots of fun things to do at Father Hennepin State Park.

See my related Minnesota state park series.


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Top 10 things to do at Father Hennepin State Park in Isle, MN

Hiking at Father Hennepin State Park in Minnesota

Here are the top 10 things to do at Father Hennepin State Park in Isle, MN.

  1. Hike through hardwood forests and along Mille Lacs – Minnesota’s second-largest lake.
  2. Fish for northern pike, walleye, bluegills, sunfish, and bass on the accessible fishing piers.
  3. Swim at Father Hennepin State Park’s sandy beach.
  4. Paddle, kayak, canoe, and boat at Father Hennepin State Park.
  5. Go rock hunting along the rocky shores of Mille Lacs.
  6. Interpretative exhibits share fun facts about Father Hennepin State Park and surrounding area.
  7. Register for free naturalist programs and park tours on weekends.
  8. Picnic lakeside at Father Hennepin State Park.
  9. Go camping at Father Hennepin State Park.
  10. Watch for wildlife including albino deer, beavers, minks, hawks, ospreys, owls, eagles, and grouse.

Frequently asked questions about Father Hennepin State Park in Isle, Minnesota

Rocky shoreline at Father Hennepin State Park on Mille Lacs lake in Minnesota

Where is Father Hennepin State Park located? What is the address for Father Hennepin State Park?

Father Hennepin State Park is located at 41294 Father Hennepin Park Road, Isle, MN 56342.

When is Father Hennepin State Park open?

Father Hennepin State Park is open year-round, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.. Services are limited in winter. But you can still snow hike, snowshoe, and cross-country ski at Father Hennepin State Park.

Is Father Hennepin State Park free? How much is the admission fee at Father Hennepin State Park?

Father Hennepin State Park in Minnesota only costs $7 per vehicle per day ($5 per motorcycle). That includes unlimited visits to all Minnesota state parks on the same day. I highly recommend an annual pass, which gives you entrance to all Minnesota state parks. See the Minnesota DNR website for more information. And it’s highly recommended to pay online ahead of time. Minnesota state parks are no longer accepting cash self-payment envelopes on site.

Admission to every Minnesota state park is free for all Minnesota state tribal members.

You can also visit Father Hennepin State Park on any of the four free state park days in Minnesota. See my related post for this year’s free state park days.

Does Father Hennepin State Park have a lake, river, or waterfall?

Mille Lacs Lake at Father Hennepin State Park in Minnesota

Yes. Father Hennepin State Park is home to Minnesota’s second largest lake. Mille Lacs covers 132,51 acres. So if you love water activities, Father Hennepin State Park is one of the best destinations in the Midwest.

Note: Lake Superior and Lake of the Woods are not considered in the lake size ranking. That’s because they border other states and/or Canada.

Can you fish at Father Hennepin State Park?

Fishing pier at Mille Lacs Lake at Father Hennepin State Park in Minnesota

Yes. Father Hennepin State Park and Mille Lacs draws anglers in every season. Fish off the two accessible fishing piers or launch your boat from the public ramp. Mille Lacs is known for northern pike, walleye, bluegills, sunfish, and bass.

And we’re talking trophy-size fish! Another claim to fame: Mille Lacs ranks as the sixth best smallmouth bass lakes in the U.S.

You don’t have to toss the fish back in. Father Hennepin State Park also offers a fish cleaning station.

Have you tried ice fishing? It’s one of the best things to do in Minnesota in the winter. Check out my first time ice fishing in Minnesota!

Does Father Hennepin State Park have a swimming beach?

Path leading to sandy beach at Father Hennepin State Park

Yes. Father Hennepin State Park in Minnesota features a natural sandy beach for swimming. A quarter of a mile long, this is one of the best public beaches on Mille Lacs. Pictured above is the path leading to the beach. You’ll also find a volleyball court, horseshoe pits, grills, and a playground near the beach. Additionally, you can rent a picnic shelter.

Playground at Father Hennepin State Park in Minnesota on Mille Lacs Lake

Can you boat at Father Hennepin State Park? Does Father Hennepin State Park offer a boat ramp with trailer access?

Yes. Father Hennepin State Park features a public boat ramp for larger boats and pontoons. Additionally, if you plan on camping here, you’ll find a boat ramp and docks at the Lakeview campground.

How big is Father Hennepin State Park in Minnesota?

Father Hennepin State Park on Mille Lacs Lake in Minnesota

At 320 acres, Father Hennepin State Park is one of the smallest state parks in Minnesota. However, it’s conveniently located on one of Minnesota’s largest lakes – Mille Lacs.

Is Father Hennepin State Park buggy? Mosquitos? Ticks?

We visited Father Hennepin State Park in October. So we didn’t notice any bugs. However, this area of Minnesota is notorious for wood and deer ticks. So definitely take caution and spray up with picaridin.

Learn more about tick safety.

Take the tick quiz!

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

Father Hennepin State Park hiking trail in Minnesota

You’ll find three short and easy hiking trails at Father Hennepin State Park. The two-mile Hiking Club Trail loop through the woods offers interpretative signage. A half-mile trail along the shores of Mille Lacs connects the two campgrounds. You can also access the beach, picnic area, fishing pier, and boat ramp.

The best hiking trail at Father Hennepin State Park takes you to Pope’s Point. Only a half-mile, this gravel trail shoots off from the other lakeshore trail. You’ll continue your hike along the rocky shores of Mille Lacs. Time your hike so that you reach Pope’s Point at sunset for stunning views.

Snowshoeing or cross-country skiing trails at Father Hennepin State Park?

Yes. Father Hennepin State Park offers ungroomed snowshoeing and cross-country skiing anywhere in the park.

Are hiking poles needed on the trails at Father Hennepin State Park?

No. You will not need your hiking poles at Father Hennepin State Park. The trails are fairly flat and easy.

What are the best views at Father Hennepin State Park?

Pope's Point at Father Hennepin State Park in Minnesota on Mille Lacs Lake sunset

The best scenic view at Father Hennepin State Park is Pope’s Point. Of course, you’ll find lots of scenic views on the waters of Mille Lacs.

Are there bike trails at Father Hennepin State Park?

Bicycles are allowed on certain trails at Father Hennepin State Park. Additionally, , the 11-mile Mille Lacs Soo Line Trail connects trailheads near both Father Hennepin State Park and nearby Mille Lacs Kathio State Park. This bike trail is paved and also includes some travel on a highway with low traffic.

Does Father Hennepin State Park have a visitor center? Modern restrooms?

Yes. The park office at Father Hennepin State Park is open daily 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Central. You can find a gift shop here as well as firewood and ice (seasonally available). Check out volleyball equipment and birding kits at the park office.

Father Hennepin State Park offers modern restrooms with flush toilets and showers seasonally in the two campgrounds. Vault toilets are available year-round.

Note: The restroom in the beach area is currently closed for renovations. Portable potties are available here.

Is Father Hennepin State Park dog-friendly?

Yes, leashed dogs and pets are welcome at Father Hennepin State Park. All Minnesota state parks welcome dogs except inside buildings (with the exception of service dogs). Leashes must be six feet or less.

Are there bears at Father Hennepin State Park?

You’re unlikely to come across any black bears at Father Hennepin State Park.

Can you camp at Father Hennepin State Park?

Yes. Father Hennepin State Park offers two campgrounds – Maple Grove and Lakeview. Other campground features include:

  • 103 drive-in wooded campsites
  • 51 electric sites
  • 4 wheelchair-accessible sites
  • 1 rustic camper cabin available to reserve seasonally
  • Six seasonal group camps accommodating 12 and up to 25 people
  • RV length limit is 60 feet (from front of tow vehicle to rear of towed vehicle)
  • Campground season typically runs late spring through end of October

Can you buy firewood at Father Hennepin State Park?

Yes. You can purchase firewood at the park office when open. Or buy certified safe-to-move firewood from a gas station.

Why can’t you bring in your own firewood? To protect Minnesota trees, you can only burn certified wood on MN DNR land. Collection is not allowed in state parks and you may not bring firewood from home. This helps prevent spreading harmful insects and diseases.

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

Father Hennepin State Park is 113 miles north of the Minneapolis – St. Paul (MSP) International Airport.

What’s nearby Father Hennepin State Park? Top things to do near Father Hennepin State Park?

Fire tower at Mille Lacs Kathio State Park in Minnesota

You will never run out of fun things to do near Father Hennepin State Park. The Mille Lacs area is a perfect family getaway in every season.

  • Lots of golf courses and trails for biking, hiking, and ATVs.
  • Take a boat cruise or tour Mille Lacs.
  • Paddle, canoe, or kayak on Mille Lacs.
  • Another one of the best state parks in Minnesota, Mille Lacs Kathio State Park, is only 15 minutes away. Learn about its fascinating history dating back centuries of years ago. Hike the trails and climb the 100-ft. fire tower (pictured above). Mille Lacs Kathio State Park is now on the shores of Mille Lacs. However, when you climb the tower, you can see it in the distance. We actually hiked both Mille Lacs Kathio and Father Hennepin state parks on the same day. Learn how to hike all 66 Minnesota state parks in a year.
  • Still another Minnesota state park is only about an hour away from Father Hennepin State Park. Check out my guide to the historic Crow Wing State Park located in Brainerd, Minnesota.

When was Father Hennepin State Park in Minnesota established?

Father Hennepin State Park in Minnesota

Father Hennepin State Park was established in 1941 to allow public access to Mille Lacs Lake.  

How did Father Hennepin State Park get its name?

You’ll find several places in Minnesota named after Father Hennepin. Hennepin Ave is a popular city street with lots of cool things to do in Minneapolis. So who was Father Hennepin? A Belgian Roman Catholic priest, Father Louis Hennepin explored the area in the 1600s. And he wrote extensively about his travels and adventures in the territory that later became Minnesota.

Does Father Hennepin State Park host deer hunts? Is Father Hennepin State Park closed during deer season?

No. Typically, Father Hennepin State Park does not host deer hunts during deer season.

For a complete list of which Minnesota state parks are closed or limited to the public during deer season, see my post: Hiker safety: MN state parks that host deer hunts.

Hiking safety tip during deer season: Wear bright orange when hiking during deer season. I typically avoid hiking even when the state park is partially open to non-hunters.

A list of the best Minnesota state parks

Hiking trail at Father Hennepin State Park in Minnesota

All Minnesota state parks are the best in my opinion. You can read reviews of each one to create your own list of top-ranked Minnesota state parks: Take the Minnesota state park challenge

  • Afton State Park | Hastings, MN (26 miles)
  • Banning State Park | Sandstone, MN (97 miles)
  • Bear Head Lake State Park | Ely, MN (240 miles)
  • Beaver Creek Valley State Park | Caledonia, MN (148 miles)
  • Big Stone Lake State Park | Ortonville, MN (186 miles)
  • Blue Mounds State Park | Luverne, MN (208 miles)
  • Buffalo River State Park | Glyndon, MN (240 miles)
  • Camden State Park | Lynd, MN (161 miles)
  • Carley State Park | Plainview, MN (88 miles)
  • Cascade River State Park | Lutsen, MN (257 miles)
  • Charles A. Lindbergh State Park | Little Falls, MN (112 miles)
  • Crow Wing State Park | Brainerd, MN (134 miles)
  • Father Hennepin State Park | Isle, MN (113 miles)
  • Flandrau State Park | New Ulm, MN (93 miles)
  • Forestville / Mystery Cave State Park | Preston, MN (115 miles)
  • Fort Ridgely State Park | Fairfax, MN (99 miles)
  • Fort Snelling State Park | Bloomington / St. Paul, MN (2 miles)
  • Franz Jevne State Park | Birchdale, MN (336 miles)
  • Frontenac State Park | Frontenac, MN (62 miles)
  • George H. Crosby Manitou State Park | Finland, MN (231 miles)
  • Glacial Lakes State Park | Starbuck, MN (156 miles)
  • Glendalough State Park | Battle Lake, MN (194 miles)
  • Gooseberry Falls | Two Harbors, MN (197 miles)
  • Grand Portage State Park | Grand Portage, MN (308 miles)
  • Great River Bluffs State Park | Winona, MN (136 miles)
  • Hayes Lake State Park | Roseau, MN (343 miles)
  • Hill Annex Mine State Park | Calumet, MN (197 miles)
  • Interstate State Park / Taylors Falls State Park | Taylors Falls, MN (56 miles)
  • Itasca State Park | Park Rapids, MN (219 miles)
  • Jay Cooke State Park | Thomson, MN (146 miles)
  • John A. Latsch State Park | Winona, MN (99 miles)
  • Judge C.R. Magney State Park | Grand Marais, MN (282 miles)
  • Kilen Woods State Park | Lakefield, MN (153 miles)
  • Lac qui Parle State Park | Watson, MN (141 miles)
  • Lake Bemidji State Park | Bemidji, MN (230 miles)
  • Lake Bronson State Park | Karlstad, MN (409 miles)
  • Lake Carlos State Park | Alexandria, MN (152 miles)
  • Lake Louise State Park | Le Roy, MN (113 miles)
  • Lake Maria State Park | Monticello, MN (60 miles)
  • Lake Shetek State Park | Currie, MN (168 miles)
  • Lake Vermilion-Soudan Underground Mine State Park | Soudan, MN (229 miles)
  • McCarthy Beach State Park | Side Lake, MN (227 miles)
  • Maplewood State Park | Pelican Rapids, MN (217 miles)
  • Mille Lacs Kathio State Park | Onamia, MN (108 miles)
  • Minneopa State Park | Mankato, MN (82 miles)
  • Monson Lake State Park | Sunburg, MN (141 miles)
  • Moose Lake State Park | Moose Lake, MN (116 miles)
  • Myre-Big Island State Park | Albert Lea, MN (93 miles)
  • Nerstrand Big Woods State Park | Nerstrand, MN (52 miles)
  • Old Mill State Park | Argyle, MN (350 miles)
  • Rice Lake State Park | Owatonna, MN (70 miles)
  • St. Croix State Park | Hinckley, MN (105 miles)
  • Sakatah Lake State Park | Waterville, MN (60 miles)
  • Savanna Portage State Park | Northeast Aitkin, MN (149 miles)
  • Scenic State Park | Bigfork, MN (232 miles)
  • Schoolcraft State Park | Deer River, MN (198 miles)
  • Sibley State Park | New London, MN (128 miles)
  • Split Rock Creek State Park | Jasper, MN (202 miles)
  • Split Rock Lighthouse State Park | Two Harbors, MN (204 miles)
  • Temperance River State Park | Schroeder, MN (239 miles)
  • Tettegouche State Park | Silver Bay, MN (217 miles)
  • Upper Sioux Agency State Park | Granite Falls, MN (122 miles)
  • Whitewater State Park | Altura, MN (99 miles)
  • Wild River State Park | Center City, MN (58 miles)
  • William O’Brien State Park | Scandia / Marine on the St. Croix, MN (43 miles)
  • Zippel Bay State Park | Williams, MN (345 miles)

Pin it for later: A local’s guide to Father Hennepin State Park in Minnesota

Please share and pin this guide for when you visit Father Hennepin State Park in Isle, MN – one of the best Minnesota state parks. On one of the best lakes in Minnesota – land of 10,000 lakes.

Guide to the top things to do at Father Hennepin State Park in Minnesota

Guide to the top things to do at Father Hennepin State Park in Minnesota

Author

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

38 comments

  1. I must admit to being partial to parks that are on the water. Father Hennepin State Park looks like one we will have to check out when we get to Minnesota. We would definitely head out on the water to see the park from that different perspective. Some amazing views that will make the hikes worthwhile.

    1. You will love Mille Lacs – it’s a beautiful and popular lake in Minnesota. And love that Father Hennepin offers great access.

  2. The walking trails look quite nice at Father Hennepin Park. The shoreside looks like a great place for a picnic in spring and summer.

  3. You are doing such a great job and showing us all these State Parks! Hennepin State Park looks beeeautiful – it looks like you visited at the perfect time too, if there were no bugs. 😀

    1. Father Hennepin State Park is one of the smallest state parks in Minnesota. But its location right on Mille Lacs Lake offers so many fun things to do.

  4. It looks like there are a lot of great things to do at Father Hennepin State Park! I would love the water activities. And that sunset is beautiful!

    1. Thank you! Definitely lots of water activities at Father Hennepin State Park. And the sunset over Mille Lacs Lake is the best!

  5. Wow there is a lot to do at Father Hennepin State Park. Climbing the tower would be tops on my list — I’m a sucker for a great view.

    1. The fire tower is actually at nearby Mille Lacs State Park – only 15 minutes away. And it gives you views of Mille Lacs lake where Father Hennepin State Park is located. Highly recommend both state parks.

  6. I love all your reviews of the Minnesota State Parks. Father Hennepin State Park looks as lovely as all the others you have written about. It is beautiful and offers so much to do.

    1. Hiking near the water is so good for the soul. And with Father Hennepin sitting right on Mille Lacs Laje it is perfect.

  7. That is so cool that MN lets you visit multiple parks in the same day for one entrance fee! Would you recommend splitting a day to see this park and Mille Lacs Kathio? or spending more time in each one?

    1. It is nice to visit multiple state parks in a day. You could visit both Farher Hennepin and Mille Lacs Kathio State Park both on the same day since they are so close. We did. But I’ve also spent a full day hiking at Mille Lacs Kathio. And you could spend a whole day boating and on the beach at Father Hennepin.

  8. Father Hennepin is such a beautiful park! I love your pictures of the rocks. They made me think of Glacier National Park. The hiking sounds great–pretty and not too difficult. It would be great for families.

  9. Minnesota is such a beautiful state! I’ve only kindasorta passed through (managed to make it to Voyageurs National Park!), but I’d love to go back someday to check out a bunch of the other parks! I love hikes along the water!

  10. What a gorgeous park to spend time in. And there’s so much to do there. I’m glad you explained where Father Hennepin State Park got it’s name! I wondered.

  11. State parks are so great to explore. Father Hennepin State Park is one we have not heard of. Thank you for sharing this MN lakeshore gem.

  12. Hennepin State Park looks like a wonderful place to visit with your family. The water is beautiful and the hikes seem family friendly. Thanks for sharing your tips!

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