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Trip Report – 4 Days of Camping, Biking and Fishing in Cuyuna Country State Recreational Area

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Day 1 – Cuyuna Lakes

We arrived in Cuyuna Country on Sunday afternoon to find ourselves a nice campsite in Portsmouth Campground. On our way into town, we stopped at Oars-N-Mine Docks & Lifts for some night crawlers and the Holiday Gas Station for some firewood. We were all set for a few days of fun! The big argument for the afternoon was whether we were going to go fishing or mountain biking first.

As we were setting up camp, a big thunderstorm started rolling in off in the distance. I couldn’t believe what was happening. My first overnight trip to Cuyuna Lakes for some heavy days of mountain biking and the rain was coming in. No, no, it couldn’t be true… Luckily, the storm went around us and only a few drops of rain fell in Cuyuna.

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It was a bit warm and the sun was bright, so we decided to hit the woods for some mountain biking before dropping the canoe in the lake. Portsmouth Campground is quite convienient because Drag Line Trail runs right through it, along the lake shore of Portsmouth Lake and connects to more trail systems at each end. We hopped on the trail and headed East toward the Yawkey Unit.

The kids were doing great and before we knew it, we were on the Haul Road and at the trail head of Bobsled. I wasn’t sure how Reid would do with Bobsled, so I took Kyle on Bobsled first. Kyle did great, and of course Reid wanted to try it, so off we went as a family. My kids are crazy, they were flying through it pretty fast.  Reid, who is only 5, ran up on Lynn’s wheel so he could pass.  We took a lap around the Tugger Trail and then made our way back to camp.

I could hear and see another potential storm way off in the distance, but the kids were set on fishing. We decided to go ahead and throw the canoe in the water and just float around near shore by the truck. We immediately caught a few fish and then the storm started rolling in. We had the canoe back up on top of the truck just in time as the rain started coming down. The kids were happy though, they each caught a fish and considered it a good night!

Day 2 – Cuyuna Lakes

I woke up around 7:00 to find the sun shining and I was the first one awake! I fried some eggs, made some coffee and sat outside to enjoy the sun and the birds singing before the kids woke up. There had been a bit of conflict in the camp of whether we would go fishing first or mountain biking first. Mother nature made the decision easy for us, as it had rained the night before and the trails needed some time to dry out before riding on them. Off in the canoe we went for some fishing.

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I was hoping the kids could catch one of the Rainbow Trout that are stocked in the lake. We headed up wind till we reached the end of the lake. We figured we could just drift back after that. Kyle immediately hooked a little Rainbow Trout. He was very excited! He knew what it was, since we had just spent our spring break at Roaring River State Park in Missouri doing some trout fishing. After some more drifting and the patience running a little low, Reid finally hooked into a Rainbow Trout.

At this point, we had drifted past our starting point and the wind was actually picking up some more. We decided to paddle our way back to where we started and duck into a little cove. This is when the real fun started. The boys were hooking into blue gill and sunfish left and right. All you could here in the canoe was giggling and “I got another one Dad”! I had so much fun watching them and of course cathing a few right along with them. We threw quite a few back, but kept enough to eat for dinner with the two little Rainbow Trout.

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After fishing, it was time for some more mountain biking.  The kids needed a bit of a break and some lunch, so I hopped on the Fat Bike and headed down toward the Yawkey Unit that we had biked the day before.  I hadn’t rode the Fat Bike much since winter time and wanted to see how it handled as a cross country trail bike.  I had a great time on it.  I was pretty amazed at how well it handled.  It is definitely more bike to throw around, but it is enjoyable and a different riding experience.

When I returned, the kids were feeling ambitious again, so we headed toward Miner’s Mountain area.  The kids rode 8 miles the previous afternoon and I was amazed that they were ready to go again.  Along the way, we came across a Turtle that was laying some eggs in the trail.  I had never seen this before, but she had dug a hole in the ground to lay the eggs in.  At any rate, we left her alone after taking a couple of pictures.

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When we came back through on our way back to camp, she had already gone and covered the hole over where the eggs were.  We felt bad about her laying the eggs in the trail and stacked a few rocks around where the hole was at, hoping that people would ride around the spot.  Hopefully the little guys make it out ok.

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We had a great trail ride and the boys road another 9 miles.  They were pretty darn tired at this point.  They might have bit off a little more than they could chew.  That being said, they were ready for a campfire and some fish.  For some strange reason, we decided to have fish tacos.  We pan fried the fish and heated up some corn tortilla shells.  We are a bit adventurous on the food side of things and like to mix things up when we can.  We had an enjoyable night around the campfire before turning in for the night.

Day 3 – Cuyuna Lakes

It was another beautiful morning. That being said, usually any morning that I wake up in the camper and know that I have a day of fun in front of me is a great morning! It was going to be a hot day, so we decided that we would skip on taking the canoe out to bake in the sun. This was good news for me as I was wanting to get some serious miles in on the trails to train for some upcoming mountain bike races.

I decided to start with heading back down to the Bobsled area with my cross country race bike, since I had not had a chance to rip around down there on my own yet.  I brought the GoPro camera to get a video of Bob Sled.  I was gone about an hour before stopping back to camp for lunch. Lynn and the kids were enjoying themselves just hanging around camp, so I decided I could keep biking.

I switched to the Fat Bike for the afternoon ride down to Miner’s Mountain area. I knew this would provide for an extra workout.  There are quite a few trails down in this area that have a lot of climbing and close ledges to the edge of the trail that that the kids are not able to ride yet, so I figured I would go ride all of these trails.  I haven’t ridden here enough yet to get a good continuous loop figured out, but it is still a great place for some riding and hill climb workouts.

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When I finally returned to camp, the kids were itching to do a little fishing. The sun had cooled off a bit and we decided we would just do some catch and release fishing off the bank. It never seizes to amaze me as to what makes for some great enjoyment with the kids. I always think that I have to have the perfect set up for them and make sure they can catch some fish to take home for dinner. At the end of the day, they just wanted to catch some fish. I think we will do more catch and release fishing in the future. They caught quite a few Rock Bass and Sunfish that provided for some great entertainment.

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We eventually cut the boys off from fishing and headed back to camp for a campfire and hamburgers on the grill. We cooked some sweet potatoes over the fire and had an ejoyable evening before the wind picked up.

Day 4 – Cuyuna Lakes

Ah, our last day in Cuyuna Country. Check out time for the campground was not until 4:00, so we still had most of the day left. That is one really nice thing about Minnesota State Parks, the late check out allows you to stick around and enjoy the main part of the day. I, of course, enjoyed the morning again, but wanted to get another good ride in on the bike before leaving.

The kids also wanted to hit some new trails that they had not been on yet. We drove in the truck down to the west end of the recreation area where there are a couple beginner trails for the kids to ride. After another nice trail ride with the family, Lynn and the kids drove back to camp in the truck and I continued my mountain biking from the west end and worked my way back to camp before packing up the camper.  This time I had my cross country bike and captured some nice GoPro videos of the some of the trails.

Summary

If you haven’t been to Cuyuna Recreation Area and really like the outdoors, you really must go spend some time there. There is not a ton of camping, but there are plenty of lakes and trails. There are some great views and a very nice little town with friendly people. As long as I live in Minnesota, I’ll be planning a few days here every year. Cuyuna Country will go on the short list of places that I visit more than once!

Links

Cuyuna Lakes Chamber

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