Outdoor Recreation

Outdoor Recreation

waxwingBirding and Wildlife

Aitkin County is a birder’s paradise. The county offers nearly one million acres if public forest land that is available for birding. Rice Lake National Wildlife Refuge and Savanna Portage State Park are just two of the areas for birding opportunities. Aitkin County covers 1, 828 square miles of varied habitat, including forested upland, marshland, tamarack bog, open farmland, and numerous lakes and rivers. Wild Bird magazine featured Aitkin County in their Sept 1997 edition as a year-round birding hotspot. The region is host to the Sharptail Grouse, all breeds of ducks, swans, and geese, and many small birds such as the Yellow Rail, the Pine Grosbeak, and the Bohemian Waxwing. You’ll see the great Gray Owl, the Hawk Owl and the beautiful Bald Eagle. The Minnesota’s most recognizable bird, the Common Loon, is plentiful and easily spotted in this area.

For more information on birding in the area visit: www.naturescapenews.com

 Bike Trails

Aitkin Trails Association is working closely with the Cuyuna Lakes Trail Association to develop a route to connect with the Cuyuna Trail and the Grand Rapids Trail, focusing on safety, especially within the city limits. Aitkin has started construction of the new trail in 2012.



Although Mille Lacs Lake is probably the best-known fishing lake in the area, Aitkin has 365 lakes in ten minutes of the only stoplight in town. The diversity of the lakes, and because the Ripple and Mississippi Rivers surround the community, a large variety of boating is possible-from canoes to small yachts. Fishing trophies range from small-mouth bass to the elusive muskie, from sunfish to rainbow trout. If the water provides your entertainment, Aitkin is the place to be! You can contact the Minnesota of Natural Resources at www.dnr.state.mn.us/fishing/index.html for fishing information such as:

For fishing regulations please visit: www.dnr.state.mn.us/regulations/fishing/index.html Fishing Seasons see: www.dnr.state.mn.us/fishing/seasons.html



Many hunters are already familiar with the rewards of hunting the Aitkin area. Just 6 miles from Aitkin is 300 acres of the Ganz’s Pheasant Farm. Membership is available and more information can be obtained through www.ganzpheasants.com or by calling 800-927-6214. Most of the deer hunting in our area is designated as Zone 1. More information about the deer season, as well as small game hunting, can be obtained by contacting the DNR at www.dnr.state.mn.us or by calling 888-MINNDNR or the local DNR Resource Center at 218-927-4040. For Hunting and Trapping information please visit: www.dnr.state.mn.us/hunting/index.html


Winter brings access to some of the most wild and scenic trails in Up North Adventure Country features excellent snowmobiling opportunities on top-rated groomed trails. The Aitkin county trail system receives high marks from many national snowmobiling publications.There are over 600 miles of groomed snowmobile trails in Aitkin county alone and they connect to other trail systems proving well over 1500 miles of trail riding opportunities in the region. In addition to our superb snowmobile trail system, some trails double as non-winter ATV trails. Contact the Aitkin Chamber for the most current snowmobile trail map: upnorth@aitkin.com or 218-927-2316.

 ATV Trails

Soo Line Trail – Runs diagonally through Up North Adventure County.

Rabey ATV Trail – Between Jacobson and Hill City


Golf Courses

Cuyuna Country Club is located just west of Aitkin on Highway 210. This local course offers 18 holes, power carts, and great pricing. Ruttgers is one of the most famous golf courses in the area. A family-owned business since 1898, The Lakes 18 hole course has been developed for Championship games.The Minnesota National Golf Course & Supper Club in McGregor offers a nice course with twilight specials and dinner.And Just for fun..try the beautiful but fun mini course at Traditions Mini Golf located at the intersection of Hwy’s 6 and 210 near Deerwood! The kids will love it!!Play them all! We’re sure you will find one to suit your swing!

kayakLakes and Rivers

Aitkin –  Little Pine Lake & Lone Lake Public Beaches
Glen Clear Lake – Public Beach
Hill City – Hill Lake at Bear Park McGregor – Big Sandy Lake & Savannah Portage State Park

Canoeing Rivers

Aitkin – Ripple River – a nice half-day trip from bridge located one mile south of stoplights to Aitkin City Park (also see Mississippi listed below)
Jacobson – Swan River – a nice half-day trip from northeast of Jacobson on Highway 200 to Mississippi River in Jacobson
McGrath – Snake River – a nice day trip southeast of McGrath on Highway 65
Regional – Mississippi River – a nice trip between Palisade and Aitkin. The river can be canoed anywhere between Jacobson and Crosby-Ironton. Very scenic and primitive solitude. A historic route of explorers and fur traders.

Area Parks

Aitkin City Park– Aitkin has a beautiful park just perfect for spending a day outdoors. Mature trees provide serenity and shade. The water feature is the river, as it ripples under a walking bridge and over the stone. Meander down the blacktop path to get just a little exercise and you can stop and rest on a bench over looking the water. The younger kids enjoy the well kept playground equipment set in a foundation of soft sand, while older children enjoy the skate park or the ball fields. Pack a picnic,and set a table under a covered pavillion, or under the trees. Restrooms available. Plenty of parking.


Aitkin Campground has plenty to offer too! Set on the banks of the Mississippi, there’s 8 sites with a fire ring provided. Good size trees offer some shade.There’s a boat ramp, dumping station and water. Plenty of room to explore the area, and close enough to downtown to walk and shop.

Aitkin County Parks-There are several parks in Aitkin County. Most of our small towns have a city park, with a variety of amenties. Plan a road trip to spend the day exploring and visiting several in one day. Don’t forget your fishing rod. Many are set right on the water.

Berglund Park in Palisade – all of the sites have electrical hookups, showers, fishing pier, boat launch, and access to the snowmobile and ATV trails.  The spot is popular during the annual fireman contest.

Jacobson Campground in Jacobson, with rustic camp sites right on the Mississippi River, artesian well, boat launch, two brand new camper cabins and direct connection to ATV trails.

Snake River south of McGrath: another rustic campground that has a canoe carry-in boat launch with connection to the Red Top ATV trail.

Savanna State Park near McGregor MN is set in a portion of Savanna State Forest. You will find opportunities for bird watching, fishing, hiking, camping, boating and canoeing, plus any other outdoor activity you might have in mind.This a natural area providing all of the seclusion and senerity you seek.

Great River Road

Travel the Aitkin area and create a historic adventure on the Mississippi Crossings from Grand Rapids to Little Falls following the Great River Roadways. The Mississippi Crossings is named for its history as a crossway of transportation by river, by rail, and by road. The voyagers, fur traders, and loggers have traveled these crossways-and today vacationers follow the heritage. The river was the main highway for the Native people of Minnesota, followed by the fur traders and the loggers. Today, many of the 25 steamboat landings still are water access and established camping sites. Aitkin served as a Northern Pacific Railroad site. The area provides many opportunities to enjoy the local hospitality, fishing, swimming, boating, camping, and now golfing. Follow the road and visit Aitkin.