Lake Shetek State Park is located on the largest lake in all of Southwestern Minnesota – Lake Shetek. It is also the headwaters for the Des Moines River. The park itself sits on 1,152 acres and the word “Shetek” is Objibwe for pelican which seems fitting as you near the park and see the white birds flying overhead.
When I was growing up Lake Shetek always meant bible camp and church to me as there is a Lutheran bible camp located on the lake with which my pastor father was very involved. As your stereotypical pastor’s daughter, this made me less than interested in the area (about the extent of my rebellion), but now, as an adult, and as part of my quest to visit all of Minnesota’s State Parks this year I have found renewed interest in Lake Shetek- and its state park.
I’m even planning a trip back in the fall to enjoy the vibrant reds, yellows and oranges that the gorgeous oak trees must turn!
Swimming and Paddle Boarding:
If you’re expecting a long, sandy beach upon which to lay out then you will be disappointed. The swimming area is mostly made up of a grassy knoll with beautiful brick-layered stairs doing down to the water (see above photo). The swimming bottom is covered with sand, but the beach itself is rocky. While you can lay out and enjoy the rays up above the water, from the grass, this may not be quite the beach experience you were hoping. That being said, the swimming is great at Lake Shetek State Park, so go for the water, not the beach.
We went for the water and a chance to use our C4 Waterman Stand Up Paddleboard (SUP) and were not disappointed. Every lake experience on the paddle board is different and it’s always fun to check out a new spot. This one was a bit ore challenging than the last due to waves- speedboats passing by and the size of the lake itself all lend themselves to a bumpier ride. But so so fun. The C4 Waterman board was made to endure the ocean, so lake waves are a cake walk- an exhilarating cake-walk for those of us that haven’t ever paddle boarded on the ocean!
Note: Dogs are not allowed on the beach, but there is additional water access with a sandy bottom at the fishing pier where your dog can enjoy a quick dip or a SUP session with you!
Much of south western and south central Minnesota have a dark past for their hands in the Dakota War of 1862 and Lake Shetek State Park is no different. At the state park you can walk in and through the Koch cabin- built in the 1860s and the site of one of the first settler killings on August 20, 1862, in the Dakota War of 1862. Andreas Koch was shot in the back at the cabin and his wife Christina Koch was allowed to flee. This is part of a memorial to the pioneer settlers.
Lots of options for camping at Lake Shetek- although I would recommend traveling without an RV for this experience, as the RV camping lot is wide open and boring, whereas the pop-up campers and tents lot is tucked away into the trees so that you have lots of shade and the beautiful feel of being in an enchanted forest…
There are also four cabins that you can rent year round for a rustic feel without the hassle of camping.
The hiking club path is an easy one that walks you around Loon Island. A mile in length it’s one that you’ll be able to savor as you walk through the trees and enjoy the lake views.
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*Note: I have partnered with C4 Waterman this summer as part of my MN State Park adventure and they have provided me with the XXL Inflatable 10’8″ SUP and pump, as well as the 3-piece HOA adjustable paddle completely free of charge. All opinions expressed are my own