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McCarthy Beach State Park

Come to McCarthy Beach State Park and you’ll remember the lakes. The sandy beach on Sturgeon Lake was rated one of the top 17 beaches in North America by Highway’s Magazine. Walk along the half-mile of shoreline, or venture out into the shallow water that extends hundreds of feet into the lake.

Launch a boat on Side Lake or Sturgeon Lake to explore the five connected lakes of the Sturgeon chain. Hikers, mountain bikers, and skiers enjoy scenic trails that wind along pine-covered ridges and through stands of birch. Snowmobilers and horseback riders take advantage of the Taconite State Trail to access miles of trails outside the park. Located near many tourist attractions, McCarthy Beach State Park offers opportunities for both relaxation and exploration.

Tell me more about this park's wildlife, history, geology and landscape.

Visitor Alert!

Winter camping no longer available

McCarthy Beach no longer offers winter camping. The campgrounds will reopen on or after April 1st, depending on when the snow melts. The nearest park to offer winter camping is Bear Head Lake State Park near Ely.

Office hours are very limited in the winter but we will be open as staff is available. If you leave a message on the park answering machine (218-254-7979) we can arrange a time to meet you at the office.

Taconite State Trail Master Plan - Update

The existing Taconite State Trail Master Plan was approved in 1980. A new master plan is under development to accurately reflect the developed alignment and existing trail uses, while also considering opportunities for new or future uses based on the current needs and demands of trail users.

To find out more and/or provide input, visit the Taconite State Trail Planning website.

Park Notes

Be fascinated. Check out the naturalist programs and other activities scheduled at the park.

Virtual Tour:

Take a virtual tour. It's a great tool to help you plan your next trip to the park! Panoramic tour | Snapshot tour

Camping Information:

Narrow Roads (RVers, take note!): The Side Lake Campground has narrow roads with sharp turns and may not be suitable for some large RVs. The road leading to sites 46 - 59 is especially narrow, so even though some of these campsites are long, they may be unsuitable for large rigs.
Download the PDF list of sites with sharp turning radiuses. This is a PDF file. You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to download it.

Group Camp: The camp is typically open mid-spring to fall, but water may not be available at the group camp outside of the Memorial Day to Labor Day period.

State Forest Campgrounds: McCarthy Beach State Park manages four state forest campgrounds and day-use areas: Button Box Lake, Thistledew Lake, Togo Horse Camp, and Stony Brook Horse Camp. These campgrounds are located in the George Washington State Forest. Camping is first-come, first-served at these areas. The cost is $14/night for a regular campsite and $16/night at the horse sites. For more information, call the park at 218-254-7979.

Gift Cards:

Purchase a Minnesota State Parks Gift Card.

Don't move firewood!

Burning non-local firewood can spread invasive species, and it's against Minnesota state law. Learn more. Always buy your firewood at the park, or from an approved local vendor. Find firewood vendors for McCarthy Beach State Park.


Bird Checklist This is a PDF file. You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to download it. at McCarthy Beach State Park.

Park Highlights

tree Swimming Beach

tree Camping

tree Hiking

tree Horse Trails

tree Picnicking

tree Cross-country skiing/snowmobiling


Staffing is very limited this winter. Please leave a message and we will get back to you within a few days.


7622 McCarthy Beach Road
Side Lake, MN 55781

tel: 218-254-7979

Getting There

From the town of Hibbing, take U.S. Highway 169 north to County Road 5, then 16 miles to the park.