Location: Twin Lakes Hiking Loop

Managed by: Rice Lake National Wildlife Refuge

Management Address

36289 State Hwy 65
McGregor MN 55760

Rice Lake National Wildlife Refuge is located in Aitkin County in east central Minnesota, about five miles south of the community of McGregor. It was established in 1935 to preserve valuable habitat for waterfowl. The most important resource on the refuge is Rice Lake itself, a shallow, 3,600 acre wild rice-producing lake. The refuge has been designated as a Globally Important Bird Area by the American Bird Conservancy due to the importance of the lake and its wild rice as a food source to migrating waterfowl, especially ring-necked ducks. The refuge has also been designated as a State Important Bird Area, as part of the larger McGregor Important Bird Area, by the National Audubon Society. The entrance to the refuge is free and visitors are welcome 7 days a week, sunrise to sunset with an automatic gate that opens and closes on a time clock. Visitors are cationed to be aware of the time so they do not become locked inside the Refuge at dusk. http://www.fws.gov/refuge/Rice_Lake/about.html


This hard surface trail is approximately ¼ mile in length and has almost no grade except for a short incline on the west end of the loop, which is thought to be closer to 1/20 than 1/12.  The trail will take hikers through the forest where they can observe various types of native trees including basswood, maple, and oak as well as remnant species of white pine left from earlier logging efforts.  The area offers a great deal of wildlife such as deer, moose, and ruffed grouse.  In addition to the trail hikers can access picnic tables and beautiful views of Twin Lake which is lined with tamarack pine.  Along the trail walkers will be able to take a break at any of two benches.  As with all northern Minnesota woods environments visitors will need to insure they have insect repellent, during our visit in July the mosquitoes and biting flies were in full force. 

The Refuge is open from dawn to dusk with a controlled entrance gate that is on a timer to open and close automatically.  Visitors are cautioned to be through the gate and out prior to dusk so they are not locked in.   

Location Info » For directions, click the marker in the map. »

The Refuge Headquarters and Visitor Center is located five miles south of McGregor, Mn on hwy 65. Located on the west side of the road traveling south the complex headquarters building has brochures that explain how to navigate the refuge to access the hiking trail highlighted here as well as some of the other more difficult trails. After arriving at the Refuge follow the main Refuge roadway through the gate to the auto touring road that takes you to Twin Lakes, a little more than 4 miles.


McGregor is the largest community in close proximity to the Refuge and is where travelers can find fishing gear, bait,and stores to fulfill most of your needs.


Lodging listings can be accessed via the McGregor's Chamber of Commerce link http://www.mcgregormn.com/memberLodging.htm.