A quiet pond and wildlife-rich wetlands welcome visitors to this off-the-beaten-path park near North Branch. Currently, Checkerboard Park is used primarily by locals and some travelers who have discovered it as a well-placed off-leash dog park along Highway 95.
The park is owned and managed by Chisago County. Park facilities include a restroom, large picnic shelter, playground, volleyball court, picnic tables, grills and an off-leash dog park. Visitors can enjoy a one-mile hike on a trail that winds through the woods and around the pond.
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The park staff have been working to add this ecologically important 40-acre property for more than a decade. It includes a marshland that connects with the park’s pond and lies adjacent to farmland. The landowner was receiving offers from a commercial sod farmer and other developers. If sold, any new owners would inherit an easement to allow building a road across park property, impairing the park’s ecological integrity.
Parks & Trails Council of Minnesota stepped up to acquire the property in October 2020 to secure it for the park. In April 2022, upon the county receiving a grant from the MnDNR, it was conveyed and officially added as parkland.
Tour more of the land projects we’ve undertaken for parks and trails.