Maplewood State Park open for viewing—even though Leaf Days cancelled by COVID

By Brent Frazier, mayor City of Pelican Rapids 

With the official arrival of autumn this past week, many of us have witnessed a lot of traffic traveling to the east of Pelican Rapids on State Highway 108. And what was the destination? No other destination than that of our famous Maplewood State Park! 

Many of us do not realize how many visitors frequent this beautiful state park and especially in the autumn when the stunning maple tree leaves sparkle and glisten in the rays of the sunshine.

Maplewood State Park is only 7 miles from Pelican Rapids and it is truly a gem and amenity for our community. With its 8 major lakes, rolling hills and hardwood forests, the park encompasses a total of 9,250 acres. Within the park are 25 miles of hiking and 20 miles of horse trails. Also are 10 miles of cross-country ski trails, 21 miles of snowmobile trails and also boat and canoe rentals. 

Many of those that visit Maplewood State Park stop in our city to sightsee, shop and dine. Although it probably can’t be determined how much of an economic impact that Maplewood State Park is to the economy of Pelican Rapids, we do know that it is substantial. 

Over the years many of us have enjoyed our annual autumn trek to Maplewood State Park to celebrate Leaf Days which have occurred during the last weekend of September and the first weekend of October. 

But hold on for now, as this was not a happening this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  This summer and into this autumn the buildings at the park have been closed to the public and large groups of people have been prohibited from gathering. So thus we all were left with no Leaf Days for the year of 2020.

Although there is no Leaf Days in 2020 this has not discouraged many people from driving through the park to witness the beauty of nature, walk the trails or climbing Holloway Hill. Another activity which has been able to endure is that of the several people that trailer their horses to the park and then navigate the horseback riding trails. 

Yes, there is some activity at Maplewood State Park, but not to the extent that we have all seen in the past. 

The organization that has been instrumental in the promotion, organizing efforts and labor of Leaf days has been “Friends of Maplewood State Park.” 

The mission of Friends of Maplewood State Park is to support and encourage the Park’s recreational, interpretive, educational and environmental activities through leadership, volunteerism, program development and fund raising.

If you would like to learn more and become a member of Friends of Maplewood State Park, please visit their website at friendsofmaplewood.org. 

With the first weekend of October in our sights, there is still time to travel to the park to see some of the autumn colors before the trees are bare. This past weekend’s rain took its toll on the leaves, but there may still be some leaves clinging to the branches before they fall and lay idle in the forests for the winter months. 

We truly have a gem of nature in our back yard. Please visit Maplewood State Park very soon and very often.