Afton State Park

AFTON STATE PARK

Parks & Trails Council of Minnesota membership has helped preserve scenic Minnesota places like this beach at Afton State Park. Photo by Mark Lissick.

About the Park

Map of MN with star at Afton State Park

Grand oaks and delicate prairie flowers grace the rugged, rolling landscape of this park. Trails traverse remnant and restored prairies, wind down deep ravines that drop 300 feet to the river and rise up to the grassy ridge tops and bluffs overlooking the scenic St. Croix River.

The trails are perfect for hikers, horseback riders and cross-country skiers. The park offers visitors a swimming beach, backpack campsites and a visitor center with interpretive displays.

Birdwatchers can observe hawks and waterfowl on the St. Croix flyway, bluebirds and meadowlarks in the grasslands, and waves of migratory birds in the floodplain.

Our Work by the Numbers

5

LAND PROJECTS
completed or
in progress here

897

ACRES
of invaluable
land saved

55

PERCENT
of the parks' total
acreage saved by us

1,366,000

DOLLAR VALUE
of land at time
of acquisition

Park Map (courtesy of MN DNR)

Our Project Stories

Adding a natural buffer to Afton

1996 – 1996  
40 acres

This 40-acre parcel was a private inholding, consisting of an old farmstead and agricultural field in the northwestern portion of the park. This property and the surrounding area had a high potential to be developed, so its addition to the park boundary would serve as a buffer. Parks & Trails Council acquired the parcel for $350,000 in 1996. Once the land exchanged hands, the unusable structures on the property were burned and buried with the help of the Lower St. Croix Fire Department, Friends of Afton and an excavation contractor.

Adding spectacular shoreline

1993 – 1995   
30 acres

Originally part of a private trust, this 30-acre parcel provided 1,200 feet of spectacular shoreline along the St. Croix River. The property was optioned to the MnDNR, who could only offer the appraised value, well below the asking price. In order to fill this gap and ensure that the land was sold to the state for the appraised value of $584,000, Parks & Trails Council paid the trust a total of $140,000.

The battle to create Afton State Park

1968 – 1969
827 acres

Visionaries build parks from scratch – even when the odds are against them. Such is the case of Samuel H. Morgan and the battle for Afton State Park. One of seven founding members of what would come to known as Parks & Trails Council of Minnesota, Morgan learned in 1967 that lands with the best beaches on the lower St. Croix River were for sale. At the time, P&TC didn’t have the funds necessary to negotiate with the landowners who were fast recognizing the tremendous value of their land. To further complicate matters, legislation establishing the park and its boundaries couldn’t happen until purchase options for a substantial amount of the proposed park were secured.

Fundraising efforts began in earnest through the Afton Land Company, an entity created by Morgan and others with the sole purpose of soliciting and managing loans and donations for the park. Despite many trials and tribulations, they managed to purchase or negotiate options on 827 acres valued at $876,000 by the time a bill to create Afton State Park went before the Legislature in 1969. Strong local opposition to the park led to a last-minute legislative battle in which park supporters eventually prevailed.

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