Region 7E is very fortunate to have three scenic byways in our region, Veterans Evergreen Memorial Scenic Byway, St. Croix Scenic Byway and Lake Mille Lacs Scenic Byway.
What is a scenic byway?
A Scenic Byway can be defined as a road corridor that has regionally outstanding scenic, natural, recreational, cultural, historic or archaeological significance. These corridors offer an alternative travel route to our major highways and daily travel patterns, while telling a story about Minnesota’s heritage, recreational activities or beauty.
It’s a public road and its corridor recognized through legislation, or other official declaration, as a unique resource worth preserving.
In addition, a Scenic Byway corridor is managed to protect this outstanding character and to encourage economic development through tourism and recreation.
Lake Mille Lacs Scenic Byway
The Lake Mille Lacs 68-mile Scenic Byway is the state’s 22nd byway. The byway loops around Lake Mille Lacs and includes highways 169, 27, 18 and 47. Shakopee Lake Road, which is a county-owned road, is also part of the loop. It’s just 30 minutes from Brainerd and 90 miles north of Minneapolis and St. Paul.
The scenic route includes many opportunities to learn about Minnesota’s natural beauty, rich history, culture and recreational opportunities. A partial list of the route’s attractions include: birding and wildlife viewing, the Mille Lacs Indian Museum and Trading Post in Vineland, several historic Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camp sites from the 1930s and 1940s, the nations smallest national wildlife refuge and two State Parks.
The Lake Mille Lacs area and it’s Byway offers something for everyone in the family. Whether you’re making a trip to Onamia, Isle, Wahkon, Malmo or Garrison to see the huge walleyes or the fall colors, picnicking in the two State Parks, hiking or biking the multi-use trails, cross-country skiing or just relaxing in a cozy resort, it’s a trip worth taking!
Byway Side TripsDriving the Byway is a great trip but it’s even better to spend some extra time exploring the communities, forests and parks that are located along or just a short distance off the trail. Take your exploration from a couple hours to a full day!
This section of Highway 23 has been known as the “scenic route to Duluth” for decades. Near the beginning of the route is Banning State Park, with camping, hiking, river fishing, canoeing and, for the adventurous, kayaking the Kettle River with its infamous “Hell’s Gate” rapids.
Creeks and small rivers criss-cross the length of the route, many of which offer fine trout fishing-especially the Nemadji and South Fork rivers on the northern part of the route. Near the end of the route is the Veteran’s Memorial Overlook, with a breathtaking view of the St. Louis River Valley.
The 124-mile St. Croix Scenic Byway runs from Point Douglas (near Hastings) to a point north of Sandstone, MN. Prepare to be impressed by the great beauty of the St. Croix “Wild and Scenic” River Valley. Long vistas and rolling landscape in the south changes to a more rugged environment of rock, cliffs and woods as you proceed north. Once in historic Pine County you will realize that you have truly arrived in the “North Country.”