MCCARTHY BEACH STATE PARK
Come to McCarthy Beach State Park and you'll remember the lakes. Dig your toes into the sandy beach on Sturgeon Lake, rated one of the top 17 beaches in North America by Highways' Magazine. Launch a boat to explore Side Lake and the four connected lakes of the Sturgeon chain. Hikers, cross-country skiers, and snowmobilers enjoy the scenic trails winding through stands of large red and white pines. For longer ventures, head out on the Taconite Trail for access to hundreds of miles of additional trails.
For the folks who can tear themselves away from the beauty and comfort of the park's sandy beach, the rolling hills and valleys of McCarthy Beach State Park offer visitors a variety of terrain to hike and explore. The park protects a northern boreal forest with stands of red and white pine and leatherleaf-black spruce lowlands.
The glaciers that moved through the area gouged and tore at the bedrock, the cooled lava of ancient volcanoes. During that period, glaciers flowed south, retreated north, and flowed south again. The first glacier stopped where McCarthy Beach is now located. It left low rolling hills with steep sides called moraines. Between the hills, the glaciers gouged valleys and in the larger valleys, lakes were formed. Trails from the beach lead visitors along the ridge tops of the park's morraines. From these vistas, visitors can imagine the titanic forces that moved and shaped the region.
The park's hills and trails allow for excellent opportunities to watch the birds and animals at McCarthy Beach State Park. More than 175 species of birds visit the area and visitors are treated to sights of loons gliding on the lakes and great blue herons stalking small fish in the shallows. Thirty-three species of wildlife inhabit the park including white-tailed deer, black bear, timber wolves, chipmunks, red squirrels, raccoons, and several species of reptiles and amphibians.
When the first settlers arrived more than 100 years ago, giant red and white pines reached as far as the eye could see. These old giants attracted loggers to the Sturgeon Lake area and it was not long before the first sawmill was built at the townsite of Hibbing. Wood from the mill built this booming mining town. In 1895, the Swan River Logging Company built a railroad to Sturgeon Lake. The railroad hauled logs to the Swan River where they were floated down the Mississippi River to Minneapolis sawmills. Over the years, the area became a popular picnic and tenting ground for people from the Iron Range. When the property owner John A. McCarthy died in 1943, his daughter sold the land to a lumberman. Local citizens became concerned about the fate of the timber and were able to persuade the new owner to sell the land. Locals raised some of the money to finance the sale. By matching local money with state money the land was purchased and became a state park in 1945.