Find a state forest

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Activities

Division of Forestry


State Forests Rules

Please come, see, enjoy, and appreciate Minnesota state forests.

State forest lands are generally open for hunting, trapping, and fishing in during the appropriate season and with the correct license. State game refuges within state forests are closed to hunting unless listed as open. State forests do contain private holdings within their boundaries, many of which are signed "no hunting." Hunting on private land within a state forest is subject to state trespass laws.

Before heading to your next adventure take a few minutes to read and familiarize yourself with some of the state forest rules.

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Camping

DNR Forestry asks all overnight campers to help protect state forests by only using designated campsites. Designated campsites have fire rings to contain flames and litter containers that prompt campers to dispose of garbage properly. However, dispersed camping is allowed in state forests. Please practice the "leave no trace" camping ethic if you camp outside of designated areas. Overnight camping is not allowed at developed day-use areas.

Special rules apply in developed forest campgrounds. See the complete text of the rules and observe signs posted in campgrounds.

Camping

  • Forest Lands are open at all times unless otherwise posted.
  • Summer camping (campground and dispersed) is limited to 14 days.
  • Dispersed camping is also allowed on state forest land at least 1 miles outside of the campground fro no fee. Camping is limited to 21 days between the second Sunday in September and first Saturday in May.
  • Bury human waste (if vault toilets are not available) and animal pars such as fish guts at least 150 feet from a water body and away from areas where it could cause a nuisance or hazard to public health.
  • When dispersed camping, park so your not blocking trail, road, or gate.

Fees

Campfires

  • Keep campfires no larger than 3 feet wide and 3 feet high. Attend the fire at all times. Completely extinguish fires before leaving the area. It should be cold to the touch.

Firewood

Day use

  • Designated day-use areas are open for picnicking, swimming, and boating where applicable. Alcohol consumption is not allowed in these areas. They are open from 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.

Personal property

  • Personal property may not be left or positioned so as to obstruct use of a road or trail.
  • Don't leave equipment unattended for more than 24 hours.

Fireworks

  • Fireworks are not allowed in state forests.

Hunting

State forest lands are generally open for hunting, trapping, and fishing in during the appropriate season and with the correct license. With one exception, there is no shooting is allowed in Sand Dunes State Forest. State game refuges within state forests are closed to hunting unless listed as open. State forests do contain private holdings within their boundaries, many of which are signed "no hunting." Hunting on private land within a state forest is subject to state trespass laws. Maps are available to aid in the identification of these areas and help you to plan your hunt around them.

For regulations about hunting, trapping, firearms, bows, limits, seasons, and deer stands go to the hunting and trapping regulations webpage.

Elevated Scaffolds

  • Temporary tree stands are allowed in state forests, including portable and constructed stands, but marketable trees greater than 4 inches in diameter at 4 feet off the ground cannot be cut to construct an elevated hunting scaffold. However, shrubs, lateral tree branches, and saplings smaller than 4 inches in diameter at 4 feet off the ground may be removed if used for scaffold construction. Cutting shooting lanes is not allowed.
  • Construction of permanent shelters is prohibited in state forests. This applies to permanent enclosed deer stands and structures associated with their use such as toilets and camp shelters.
  • A person may not construct, occupy, or use any elevated scaffold or other elevated device for the purpose of hunting, watching, or killing wild animals, except that portable stands may be used if they are removed each day at the close of hunting hours and do no permanent damage. Prior to the opening day of archery deer season, portable stands may be left overnight in a wildlife management area by a person with a valid bear license who is hunting within 100 yards of a bear bait site that is legally tagged and registered. The licensee's name and address, or drivers license number, or DNR number must be affixed to the stand in such a manner that it can be read from the?ground. In a portion of northwest Minnesota, portable stands may be left overnight on wildlife management areas from November 1 through December?31.
  • Deer stands on state forest lands are considered available for public use and must remain accessible to all.
  • For complete rules go to the hunting and trapping regulations webpage.

Shooting Range

  • Shooting range hours are from sunrise to sunset, except that no shooting is allowed before 8:00 a.m. or after 8:00 p.m.
  • Shooting ranges are closed during the firearms deer season.
  • Alcoholic beverages and glass containers are prohibited on a shooting range.
  • Firearms must be unloaded and cased unless on the firing line.
  • Use of a firing point is limited to one hour when others are waiting.
  • Shooting is permitted only from the designated firing points on ranges where they are provided.
  • Targets permitted are:
    • rifle or pistol - paper targets or steel silhouettes only. Paper targets must be attached to target holders where provided
    • shotgun - clay targets only.

Shooting ranges operated by local conservation clubs. Learn more »

Road and Trails

  • Check temporary state forest road closures for up-to-date information about state forest roads.
  • Know the rules before you head out on the road and trails out into the state forests.
    • Share the trail with others.
    • Stay on designated trails.
    • Keep right so others can pass.
    • Obey traffic signs and rules.
    • Respect adjoining landowners’ rights and privacy.
    • Warn other trail users when passing by giving an audible signal.
    • Let horses know you are passing. Some may be spooked by quiet bikers or inline skaters.

Trail users are legally responsible for obeying the rules and regulations provided in Minnesota Rules, part 6100.3000 through 6100.4300.

Non-motorized trails

  • State forest land is generally open to all non motorized activities, but may be limited by postings. Organized, large-scale non motorized events may require a special-event permit. Contact the local area forest supervisor for details.
  • In the Richard J. Dorer Memorial Hardwood Forest, horses and bicycles may travel only on designated trails.
  • Most non motorized activities can be conducted free of charge on state forest land. However, some non motorized activities such as cross-country skiing and horseback riding on designated trails require a ski pass or horse pass.

Removing trees or other plants from state forests

  • You may not cut trees or remove any plants in state forests without a permit. In some areas, certain trees may be cut for fuelwood, but you must get a permit from the local DNR forestry office if you want to take wood out of state land boundaries. You can get a special-use permit by contacting the local DNR forestry office to cut a Christmas tree or harvest boughs for holiday decorations. You may pick up pine cones from the ground to take home.
  • Collecting berries, mushrooms, or dead fuelwood for personal use while in the forest is OK. Collecting large amount of this items to take home for personal use or sale required a permit. Get permit by contacting thelocal DNR forestry office.
  • Firewood Dead wood may be gathered for campfires in a state forest. Cutting fuelwood for home use requires a permit from the .
  • Protect Our State Forests–Don't Move Firewood!
    • Moving firewood from one location to another may also move harmful pests. Only approved firewood may be brought into state parks, state forests, and other DNR facilities. Check out the approved vendor listing to determine where you can get approved firewood close to where you will be recreating.

This is only a summary of permitted and regulated activities. A complete copy of the rules is available; See Minnesota Rules Chapter 6100.0100 to 6100.1950 for details.