Pets allowed
Allowed with Restrictions
Elevation Gain
65.00 ft (19.81 m)
Trail type
3.50 mi (5.63 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

The Big Hole Loop Trail is 3-mile loop in McCarthy Beach State Park. The Bog Hole Loop Trail also doubles as the state park’s Hiking Club Trail (see last paragraph for information about the club). The trail is a mix of packed dirt and mowed grass.

To find the trailhead for this hike from the park office or beach area head north for just over a mile on McCarthy Beach Rd (County Road 915); here take a sharp right on Reed Road for 0.3 miles to a parking area. Be aware that Reed Road is a minimum maintenance road. Parking may also be available off Ski Trail Road which is also a minimum maintenance road.  Before heading to the trailhead check with park staff regarding the condition of these minimum maintenance roads.

The trail off Reed Road is called the Hiking Club Extension since it is a connector trail to the loop. This Hiking Club Extension adds about a half mile to the hike making it a 3.5 mile hike. After about a tenth of a mile, the hiking club extension trail hits a "Y" intersection; stay to the left. Shortly thereafter you will access the Big Hole Loop trail. Take a left here and follow the blue hiking club signs. The hilly trail runs through a forest of pines, birch, aspen and other hardwoods. There are a number of intersections with other trails along the way, but there are maps at these intersections; also look for the blue hiking club signs. The last half mile or so of the hike is the most scenic as it follows the shore of Pickerel Lake. Look for loons! Near the northwest end of Pickerel Lake there is an intersection; here one can follow trail to the left for a slight short cut to connector trail or continue to follow the Hiking Club Trail to connector trail.

The Minnesota State Park’s Hiking Club program encourages hikers to hike a designated Hiking Club Trail at most state parks. A Hiking Club password is found on all of these hikes. You can earn patches, free camping, and even a plaque (if you hike all of the Hiking Club trails) for participating in the club. A Hiking Club kit can be purchased at most state parks for $14.95 (as of 2020). More information about the program can be found here.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass

State Park Fee

Open Year-round



Trail follows the shore of Pickerel Lake.


Minimum maintenance road to get to trailhead.

Trailhead Elevation

1,410.00 ft (429.77 m)

Highest point

1,475.00 ft (449.58 m)


Family friendly
Near lake or river

Typically multi-day


Permit required




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