HIKE Minnesota: Quarry Park & Nature Preserve

We are honored to announce that Quarry Park & Nature Preserve is a featured hike as part of Explore Minnesota’s 2019 HIKE MN campaign. This beloved attraction in Greater St. Cloud is open year round from 8am to a half hour after sunset. With 683 acres of trails. woodlands, prairies, wetlands, and of course quarries, there is something for every outdoor lover to do.

PLUS: Beaver Island Brewery is offering buy-one, get-one pints of Trail Hop Juicy IPA for anyone who tracks their Quarry Park hike using a fitness app of choice. Show your route at the Beaver Island Brewing taproom September 5 – October 31, 2019 to redeem! So this fall, we invite you and all of your friends to plan your perfect golden hike at Quarry Park and Nature Preserve – and enjoy a delicious reward from Beaver Island Brewing Company!

History

Quarry Park & Nature Preserve was the site of twenty operational granite quarries that, for many years, played a role in securing St. Cloud’s nickname “The Granite City.” A type of stone known as St. Cloud Red Granite was primarily mined at Quarry Park up until the mid-1950’s when quarrying operations ceased in the present park area. There were five different mining companies who operated the quarries there during that time, and many have namesakes within the park today. In 1992, Cold Spring Granite Company sold the land to Stearns County, and it opened as a public park in 1998.

Today you can still see the historic Liberty Derrick, an exhibit that pays tribute to Minnesota’s granite quarrying industry. It was originally used by the Liberty Granite Company to hoist tons of granite blocks that was eventually used for buildings, monuments, and other large structures. Thanks to equipment like this, Stearns County granite can be found all over the world. The current Liberty Derrick display was dedicated in 2008, and it’s available to view any time Quarry Park is open.

Liberty Derrick Exhibit Brochure

Liberty Derrick Audio Tour:

Seasonal Fun

Perfectly situated for year-round fun, Quarry Park and Nature Preserve is home to activities for every season. Learn a little more about all of the adventurous fun awaiting you!

Hiking

This one is a given, and an easy activity to take advantage of no matter what season it is. With miles of groomed trails leading to some of the most beautiful scenery in Stearns County, it’s advised to come prepared with a camera to try and capture the incredible views. A map of all the trails can be found here and is also posted at many trail intersections in the park. Trail distances are shown here, and can add up to the perfect running route or the ideal short stroll – whatever you’re in the mood for! Dogs are welcome but must be kept on a leash and cleaned up after, and most of the trails are very stroller-friendly for you and your little explorer.

Swimming

One of the most unique assets of Quarry Park is the opportunity to go cliff-jumping into the crystal waters of a former granite quarry. The park is home to two swimming quarries that are open as long as the warm weather beckons. Quarry #11 is perfect for families and relaxing, with a gradual, sandy beach as well as rocks for jumping off of at lower heights. This quarry is 40 feet at its deepest point. Quarry #2 (also known as Melrose Deep 7) is for the adrenaline junkie. Surrounded by outcroppings and rock formations and stretching to 116 feed deep, the rush of a jump at Quarry #2 will stick with you! For both swimming quarries, floaties are advised and picnic areas/restrooms are available. Please note there is no lifeguard on duty, and you swim at your own risk.

Trout Fishing

As part of an urban fishing initiative, several quarries at Quarry Park are stocked by the Minnesota DNR with trout for fishing. Quarry numbers 1, 4, 7, 9, 13, and 18 offer shore-side fishing as well as some fishing piers, and the season is the same as the Minnesota Fishing Opener in May. Rumor has it, worms, corn, and even marshmallows make for good bait!

Scuba Diving

Explore the natural underwater landscape of historic granite quarries! There are three designated quarries for scuba diving, but please note that it requires specialized training and equipment, as there are certain risks that arise with this activity. A free permit is required for any scuba divers.

Cross Country Skiing, Showsnoeing & Fat Tire Bicycle Trails

The trails at Quarry Park are groomed regularly for cross country skiing all winter long. Ski lights guide the way when the sun goes down, and lights are turned off at 10pm. Winter ski trail conditions are posted here and updated after snowfalls.

Rock Climbing

In a place that was created simply for its proximity and relationship with the granite mining industry, it only makes sense that rock climbing be an adventurous option for fun. Quarry #17 is home to a rock climbing wall, and a bouldering area is found just south of Quarry #20. for anyone interested in either of these, a free permit is required.

Tips for Visiting

If you’ve still got some questions before you’re ready to visit, we’re here to help. Here are some tips for planning your visit to Quarry Park & Nature Preserve, and if you still have questions don’t be afraid to reach out to us!

Prepare for the Season

Depending on what time of year you visit Quarry Park and Nature Preserve, you should prepare accordingly for the weather. In the warmer months, it is highly recommended to bring bug spray and sun screen to protect you from the elements, and a water bottle to keep cool. Also, most amenities at Quarry Park require a bit of a hike, so it’s advised to wear shoes that are best for walking. Food and non-alcoholic beverages are allowed in the park, so pack a picnic and plan to stay the day! In the winter, you must bring any gear you need for your winter sports (skis, snowshoes, etc.) – there is no equipment rental available. Dress warm and ready for fun!

Understand the Entry Fee

Quarry Park is a reasonably priced adventure for every season, but there is a small cost. Every car is $5 to enter, or annual passes can be purchased for $20. So if you know you’ll go at least 4 times per year, the annual pass is the way to go! Otherwise, come prepared with cash for the entry booth, and plan to have exact change as it’s not attended all day every day.

Photo Ops Abound 

Quarry Park and Nature Preserve is one of the most unique attractions in Greater St. Cloud, and in the state of Minnesota. The looming granite piles, mysteriously deep quarries, the miles of trails through woods, wetlands and prairies – there is a photo op at every turn! Come prepared with you cell phone or camera to capture some truly unique sights, and make sure to use #VISITSTCLOUD and #ONLYINMN when posting your shots on social media!

Best Behavior, Please

Quarry Park and Nature Preserve is visited by tens of thousands of people every year, ranging from young ones looking to swim at Quarry 11 to those interested in the history and story behind the granite industry. It’s important to treat the park and all of the patrons within it with respect and courtesy. Items including glass containers, firearms, explosives and alcohol as well as behaviors like smoking near swimming beaches and rude, disruptive behavior is prohibited at Quarry Park (and all Stearns County Parks) and violators will be prosecuted.