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This substantial north suburban park includes Vadnais and Sucker lakes, and Grass/Snail Lake Regional Park is adjacent to its West edge. It is also near a freeway and major housing developments, and is split up by some major roads.
Despite its inclusion in this "regional park", much of the land around Vadnais Lake has limited public access because it is part of St. Paul's municipal water supply. Access to Vadnais Lake is easy because there are public or park roads around most of the shoreline, including a raised roadway which splits the lake in half. It should be easy to spot any birds in the lake from the shore, and there are no boats to scare water birds away. However, within the park it is not always clear what land is accessible and what is restricted. Some locals ignore many of the "no trespassing" signs. I used to fish on the lake when I was a kid, where there are now abundant "no fishing" signs. The only part of the lake shore that isn't on a public road (i.e. good for a quiet walk) is the gravel park road that follows the North shore of the lake from the parking area on County Road F to Edgerton Road. Watch for signs and use your best judgement.
I saw and heard very few birds in February, but it was quite active in early October. In the warmer seasons my "Traveller's Guide to Wildlife in Minnesota" (Minnesota DNR, nice book) describes Vadnais Lake as the best place in the metro area to see loons, along with other water birds like cormorants, mergansers and herons.
This park also extends North around the smaller Sucker Lake ("Sucker" is a kind of fish), though the two sections are split by County Road F and very weakly linked. I haven't been been to that section of the park or to the Grass/Snail Lake section yet.
Very quiet in February.
In October there were many species. Cedar waxwing, kinglet, and yellow-rumped warbler were numerous in the junipers. White-crowned and white-throated sparrows. Hairy and downy woodpeckers shared the pines with red-breasted and white-breasted nuthatches and brown creepers. Also eastern phoebe, black-and-white warbler, dark-eyed junco, ducks, swans, gulls, and hawks, in addition to the common suburban species.
Birds you can see here include:
History and Use
Areas of Interest
Access and Facilities
Vadnais Lake is just Northeast of the Rice Street (County 49) exit off of I-694. There are parking areas at access points on the South shore of Vadnais Lake, along the drive that bisects the lake (seasonal), and on both sides of County Road F.
Content and images originally posted by bkrownd