Please take a few minutes to read and familiarize yourself with state forest rules. A partial summary list is linked below.
Before you go you should know.
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.
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 fees are charged in campgrounds with developed facilities (drinking water, garbage containers, toilets). No fees are charged for other recreational uses of state forests. Learn more camping in state forests.
- No permit is required for recreational campfires less than 3 feet in diameter in an area cleared of combustible materials for 5 feet around the fire.
- Protect our state forests- don't move firewood.
- You may gather wood that is dead and lying on the ground for onsite campfire 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 may not be left or positioned so as to obstruct use of a road or trail. Personal property left unattended for 14 days shall be deemed abandoned.
Forest lands are open to hunting and to target, trap, and recreational shooting except where prohibited by law, posted or designated closed for management or public safety purposes, or otherwise restricted by this part. With one exception, there is no shooting is allowed in Sand Dunes State Forest. 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. When in doubt, contact your local area forestry office.
State game refuges within state forests are closed to hunting unless listed as open.
Firearms must be unloaded and cased bows must be unstrung and cased while in or within 200 feet of a forest recreation area (campground, day-use area, parking area, etc.). Exception: During seasons open for hunting, a person may carry an unloaded, uncased firearm or strung bow from a forest recreation area to hunt outside of the area.
- 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 »
- 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.
- Deer stands on state forest lands are considered available for public use and must remain accessible to all. More about hunting in state forests
- State forest land is generally open to all nonmotorized activities, but may be limited by postings. Organized, large-scale nonmotorized 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 nonmotorized activities can be conducted free of charge on state forest land. However, some nonmotorized activities such as cross-country skiing and horseback riding on designated trails require a ski pass or horse pass.
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 from 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.
Picking fruit and mushrooms Gathering fruits and mushrooms is allowed.
Firewood Dead wood may be gathered for campfires in a state forest. Cutting fuelwood for home use requires a permit from the local DNR Forestry office.
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.