Chippewa National Forest

Guide to (Designated) Dispersed Camping

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1 Forest 76 dispersed sites $FREE 0% reservable

the chippewa.

 

The first of two national forests in the state, established in 1908. 

Located in the heart of Northern Minnesota these 666,000 acres contain more water than any other national forest in the nation. Over 1,300 lakes including some of the state's largest - Cass, Leech and Winnibigoshish, host innumerable shoreline campsites, public boat launches, carry-in paddle accesses and a diversity of local fisheries. A few of the forest's best kept secrets include deep, spring fed lakes of Caribbean aquamarine color and clarity. 923 miles of rivers and streams, including the most wild & scenic portions of the Mississippi River invite the paddle. 

Nesting it all is a diversity of woodland, mixes of old growth conifer, aspen groves, birch and sugar maple - basswood bush. Here are found some of the largest and most mature examples of individual tree species and native plant communities. 

Threaded by gravel forest roads, 41 miles of paved bike trail, 298 miles of non-motorized hiking or biking trails including Suomi Hills, Trout Lake, Shingobee, Cut Foot Sioux and a transect by the North Country National Scenic Trail - all delivering the outdoorist deeper into remote and beautiful backwoods experiences. 

The natural and scenic quality, notable history and access to wildlife and recreation is of some of the highest caliber the state of Minnesota has to offer. Many of your days are deserved to explore it fully. Those nights necessary to accomplish this, will be best spent with the service of this guide to the wild but comfortable camping experiences introduced below. 

 

 ABOUT THIS GUIDE

Of the 20 Ways to Camp on Minnesota Public Lands, the Chippewa National Forest offers opportunities to experience half of them. 

 

What this guide is not about?

This particular guide is not about Way to Camp #3. Car Camping In U.S. National Forests In Minnesota;

the 15 developed drive-in car campgrounds, with many amenities offered in exchange for a nightly fee. 

Neither is this guide about the many hundreds of forest roads and land acres available for Dispersed Camping opportunities which can happen anywhere on public land that is at least 150 feet away from any road, trail or otherwise improved or developed area. This means the wild, with no amenities whatsoever. Whether by car #5, by hike #11, by bike #13 or by boat #20. Which is certainly allowed in this forest. 

What this guide is about?

This guide is about a collection of 76 designated dispersed camping sites in the Chippewa National Forest, including those packaged and promoted by the US Forest Service in their Dispersed Camping Site Map Index. Learn more about this resource below.

These campsite locations and experiences are;

  • free to use (they are not within one of the 15 fee car campgrounds) for up to 14 days

  • offer moderate amenities, possibly but probably (a fire ring, toilet, picnic table, bench, boat landing, dock)

  • and are located in a desirable position (cleared and level tent space, near a water feature or trail)

They include the local Chippewa National Forest offering to experience Ways to Camp:

#4. Free Car Camping In U.S. National Forests In Minnesota
#8. Backpack Camping in U.S. National Forests in Minnesota
#10. Backpack Camping on a National Scenic Trail
#16. Paddle Camping in U.S. National Forests in Minnesota

At many of these campsites, your car can join you, with all of the extra equipment, security and easy exit strategy they provide.

For many others, you will need to rely on your comfort and capability in being remote; a mile down a hiking trail or out on the water in whatever conditions or events are presented. 

At all of these campsite experiences, you will need to trust your equipment and ability for;

  • treating water from a natural source

  • keeping your food away from wild animals (hanging bear bags, using bear boxes or barrels)

  • preparing food in the backcountry (using stove systems, if conditions don't allow a fire)

  • packing out everything you pack in (especially your trash)

 

Camping in the designated dispersed campsites of the Chippewa take you away from the company of campground crowds and offer you the basic furnishings of a campsite for no cost, other than a willingness to exercise some extra self-reliance and head a little deeper into the wilder corners of this amazing national forest. 

#4.

#10

#8.

#3.

#16

#19

#20.

#13.

#11

#5.

 

Interactive Campsites Map

 The default map layer includes all campsites, but you may toggle three other layers to filter by approach; car, backpack, paddle.

 

AREA OVERVIEW Map

The Chippewa National Forest divides these designated dispersed campsites into five geographic areas.

 

Click on an area to jump to catalog of campsites. 

 

THE CAMPSITES CATALOG

Chippewa National Forest 'Designated' Dispersed

 

Blackduck Area

1 B35 Glove Lake        4

Scenic site on a hilltop on the shore of Glove Lake. Good shoreline and water for swimming. 

  • 94° 5' 59.618" W 47° 47' 32.447" N

  • No difficulty on approach; Forest Road 2240. 

  • Space for 2-3 tents, and trees for hammocks. 

  • Parking space is limited. 

  • No toilet.

  • Yes, rock fire ring. 

1 B42 Moose Lake        3

A lush, grassy and open to the stars ​space on the shore of Moose Lake. Not much of a boat landing, steep shoreline bank. 

  • 94° 9' 19.258" W 47° 49' 8.519" N

  • Very difficult approach road, Forest Road 3357. Beaver dam washouts and deep pools, inaccessible to most vehicles. Hike-in of ~ 1 mile. 

  • Paddle .5 mile in from public boat launch at south end of Moose Lake. 

  • Primitive amenities include a dug out fire pit. 

16 B7 North Twin Hike-In     4

Open but shaded, breezy peninsula on the shore of North Twin Lake. Good shoreline access to water suitable for swimming.

  • 94° 36' 10.780" W 47° 35' 51.502" N

  • Hike in from car parking is .10 miles

  • Semi rugged approach on Forest Road 2091. 

  • Space for several tents. 

  • No toilet.

  • Yes, rock fire ring. 

  • Overflow camping up the wooded hill with a second rock fire ring.

16 B9 North Twin Remote     3

Smaller grassy space with room for a couple of camping tents along the raised shoreline of lake. Fine swimming, but vegetated. Adjacent pine grove for hammocks. ​

  • 94° 36' 31.357" W 47° 35' 35.957" N

  • Closed gate on approach road, Forest Road 2238. Requires a hike-in of ~ 1 mile, through very vegetated unmaintained trail.  

  • Paddle in .35 miles from public boat launch in SW corner of lake. 

  • No toilet. Yes, rock fire ring. 

 

Cass Lake Area

17 C16 Lake Windigo      4

A very distinct campsite - 1 of only 26 recursive lakes on an island on a lake in the entire world. ​Space for several tents on the pine needle carpeted ground below mature trees. Scenic and good swimming area. 

  • 94° 34' 16.891" W 47° 24' 54.516" N

  • Paddle ~ 4 miles from public launch west of Star Island on CR 148. Portage into Lake Windigo on northern shore. 

  • Access or approach via 6 miles of Star Island hiking trail system. 

  • Yes, wilderness toilet and metal fire ring. 

17 C17 Star Island, S. Shore     4

A wide open grassy acreage adjacent the South Shore beach of Star Island. Not private, but you may prefer the likely present boat party. Room for many tents, this should even be considered multiple campsites. 

  • 94° 34' 28.023" W 47° 24' 25.076" N

  • Paddle ~ 1 mile from public launch west of Star Island on CR 148. 

  • Access or approach via 6 miles of Star Island hiking trail system. 

  • Yes, wilderness toilets and metal fire rings. 

17 C18 Star Island, N. Shore     4

Two campsites, right next to each other. Share a small beach (with rock fire ring) on north shore of O'Neils Point. Grassy space tucked back in the trees for several backpacking tents. ​

  • 94° 33' 32.899" W 47° 25' 32.093" N

  • Paddle ~ 4 miles from public launch west of Star Island on CR 148. 

  • Access or approach via 6 miles of Star Island hiking trail system. 

  • Yes, wilderness toilets and metal fire rings. 

18 C29 Lydick Lake      5

Absolutely top notch, super spacious, cedar shaded shoreline with excellent views of Lydick Lake. Plenty of access to sandy swimming. Could be considered two campsite sections, partitioned by shrubbery, 

  • 94° 25' 5.083" W 47° 23' 54.508" N

  • No difficulty on approach; Forest Road 2958. 

  • Space for many tents, several campers and trees for hammocks. 

  • Plenty of parking space. 

  • No toilet.

  • Yes, multiple rock fire rings. 

18 C33 Mississippi River      3

Moderately sized, grassy and open space alongside the vegetated riverbank of the Mississippi as it flows between Cass Lake and Winni. Narrow opening amongst cattails for paddle craft access.

  • 94° 23' 7.082" W 47° 25' 36.891" N

  • No difficulty on approach; Forest Road 2167F. 

  • Space for 2-3 tents. 

  • Parking space is limited. 

  • No amenities. 

  • Limited but pleasant view of river plain. 

 

Deer River Area

10 D2 Mississippi River      4

Very spacious and open grassy space with room for large groups or multiple parties. Very enjoyable space if clean, with several large oaks and open view of a narrow section of Mississippi River. A steep bank separates you from a tiny sand bar and swimming. 

  • 93° 54' 15.530" W 47° 18' 9.397" N

  • No difficulty on road approach from Highway 18. 

  • Space for many tents, large groups, campers, trailers. 

  • Parking space is not limited. 

  • Open ground used for fires and there is a toilet. 

11 D28 Battle Point South     3

Wide open views of Cut Sioux Lake and across Winnibigoshish. Dirty, weedy water alongside campsite. Adjacent to dirt road, but not a busy one. 

  • 94° 4' 20.654" W 47° 28' 36.619" N

  • No difficulty on approach; on the side of County Road 148. 

  • Small space for 1-2 tents. 

  • Parking space is limited. 

  • No toilet.

  • Yes, rock fire ring. 

11 D29 Battle Point North     4

Wide open views of Cut Sioux Lake. Spacious. Mucky, weedy water along shore but great access for watercraft. Would be 5 star if water quality was higher. Significantly larger than nearby D28. 

  • 94° 4' 39.721" W 47° 30' 36.091" N

  • No difficulty on approach; Forest Road 2240. 

  • Space for multiple tents, campers and vehicles. 

  • No toilet.

  • Yes, rock fire ring. 

11 D32 First River Lake     4

Remote and private open area below the pines alongside First River and Lake. Watercraft accessible. Very scenic. 

  • 94° 5' 59.618" W 47° 47' 32.447" N

  • Long but not too rugged approach; Forest Road 3107. 

  • Space for multiple tents or campers, parking, and trees for hammocks. 

  • Could be considered two sites. 

  • Pit toilet, rock fire rings, picnic table an makeshift dock. 

11 D71 O-ne-gum-e     ?

Guidemaker could not locate this campsite, supposedly existing near the lake launch. 

  • 94° 2' 21.592" W 47° 30' 10.700" N

12 D1 Cut Foot Sioux Lake      1

A somewhat open space remains in the woods, where this campsite is going feral. Vegetation has grown in too thick by either land or water access, but a metal fire grate remains. 

  • 94° 3' 50.446" W 47° 30' 32.447" N

  • No access from water. Overgrown with cattails, no landing. 

  • No maintained access from Simpson Creek Trail system. 

  • Pit toilet and metal grate fire ring.