Caution- It’s that time again: Road trip wknds ahead!

I love Lakes Country for its rolling hills, scenic views and most of all its winding roads. Whenever I can, I get into the car and take a road trip to explore the area. There are many different routes and I like to share a new trip I just did recently. It is an easy day trip for the whole family to enjoy. Of course, you can take it by yourself or with a friend also.

If you are coming from the Fargo-Moorhead area, I suggest you leave by 10:30 in the morning after your weekend morning routines, ready for lunch and head towards Minneapolis on I-94. Take exit 24 and turn left onto HWY 34 going East. Take your time as you will see a change in scenery already by leaving the plains behind and entering into Lakes Country. The road ends at HWY 59 and you will arrive around 11:30 am. Go straight ahead to Lakeland General Store and enjoy a pretty good country kitchen style lunch at the Cornfield Café. It, in fact, is a hidden treasure and you would not expect it to be so good. But it is.

You are in no rush and after your lunch, it is probably around 12:30 pm. Take HWY 59 and go North towards Detroit Lakes for a little less than a mile and turn right onto East Lake Lizzie Road. It is a beautifully paved back road and leads right to HWY 32. Take a right and enjoy a drive between Lake Lizzie and Crystal Lake with an amazing view. Take a right on HWY 4 and go West for a short while until you reach 233rd Ave where you take a left going South. The road will merge into 230th Ave and lead to HWY 108. Take a left here and follow the highway through one of my favorite parts in Lakes Country. You will pass Lake Lida on the South shore right along the water’s edge and drive between two lakes. Stay on 108 for a couple of miles and enjoy winding roads and rolling hills until you arrive at Maplewood State Park around 1:00 pm. At the entrance, you can purchase a day pass or a season pass which is valid in all Minnesota State Parks for 12 months. Grab a map and choose one of the many hiking trails available.

If you like to hike, I can recommend going to the Hallaway Hill Overlook. You can park your car at the rest stop at the Northwest corner of the park and take a 0.4-mile hike to the overlook. It is a former ski hill which closed in the 1960s I believe. From there you overlook South Lake Lida and roads you took to come to the park. It is just beautiful.

You will probably stay at least 2 hours in the park and when you are ready for a treat, I suggest you finish your day at DuCharme’s by Star Lake. Leave Maplewood State Park the way you arrived and take a right onto HWY 108 again. Follow the curvy road until you see DuCharme’s Corner Store at 108 and 41.  Enjoy some great ice cream and sit outside next to Star Lake. I assume it will be around 3:30 pm by now and you can either find a place to stay for the night in Lakes Country or head back home to Fargo-Moorhead. I think you should be home no later than 5:30 pm ready for a BBQ. Enjoy your road trip!

Dirk Ockhardt