There is nothing I like better than hiking with my best boy, Duke, a 6.7 pound Pomeranian with plenty of attitude, on a crisp autumn afternoon. One of my favorite places to hike or snowshoe is the Robert Ney Memorial Park Reserve near Maple Lake, MN. The park is 866 acres combination of marsh and forest. The park was developed due to a land deed and a trust fund to Wright county from Albert Ney upon his death. Albert Ney arranged this as a memorial to honor his son, Robert, who died in World War II. The Robert Ney Memorial Park Reserve is adjacent to the 245-acre Maple Lake Wildlife Management Area, so all together it is a large natural area.
While this park does not allow camping, some highlights include:
- 10 miles of natural surface hiking and walking trails
- Equine trails (dogs are welcome, too!)
- Picnic areas
- Public lake access
- A memorial chapel in memory of Robert Ney
- A park center where educational programs are held, along with a gathering space
- Cross country skiing and snowshoeing, including rentals on Saturdays and Sundays from January through the first part of March
A favorite activity is looking for wildflowers in the spring, such as the blue violet, blood root (which really does look like blood when you break a stem!), Jack-in-the-Pulpit, trillium, and many more. But, this park absolutely glows in autumn! The leaves glow as you hike.. Squirrels and birds chatter as you pass by, and you can hear the falling leaves land softly on the ground. You won’t see many people while at the park as it seems to be a hidden gem in Wright county. You feel all alone–just you and the beautiful trails with the leaves crunching under foot. It is almost a transcendent experience–until my dog pulls on the leash to remind me to keep going. As I consider how much I love hiking here in autumn, I then remember how much I love snowshoeing here in winter. Each season is better than the next!
Robert Ney Memorial Park Reserve
5212 73rd St NW
Maple Lake, MN 55358
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