University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota
College of Biological Sciences

Fish Lake Trails

Hike the Fish Lake Nature Trails and experience the beauty and diversity of Cedar Creek at any time of year! Open to the public 365 days a year, from sunrise to sunset.



The Fish Lake Nature Trail, also known as the John A. Harstaad Interpretive Trail, is dedicated to the memory of Cedar Creek scientist and naturalist John Harstaad. This trail winds through several distinct ecosystems along its 1.5 mile path. Hikers first pass through a sand prairie on the way from the parking lot to the lake. Turning left at the lake leads through a bur oak savanna where red-headed woodpeckers nest and feed. Continuing around the south end of the lake, there is a cattail wetland on the left and the lake on the right.  Sandhill cranes and water birds are commonly visible in this section. Traveling on to the southwest corner, one comes to the beginning of a deciduous forest and then to the first of four boardwalks crossing the cattail marshes. The trail ends in the forest and the return journey features the parade of ecosystems in reverse.

Boating on Fish Lake

Non-motorized boats are welcome on Fish Lake. Launch from the east side of the lake, at the end of the path from the parking lot, or at the north side of the lake along Fawn Lake Drive.

Cross-country skiing

During winter, cross-country ski the Savanna Loop Ski Trail, a 2-mile loop along internal sand roads. These trails are open to public access only in the winter; during the growing season they are used for research and are therefore closed to hikers.


Five geocaches are placed along the trail. Bring your own GPS and see if you can locate them! For coordinates, visit the official geocaching website "Geocaching" or download this brochure from the City of East Bethel listing the codes for the five Fish Lake caches as well as several others around the city.


Facilities include a pavilion, parking area, information kiosk, benches, trash receptacles, and porta-potties. 

Rules and regulations
  • Day use only (sunrise to sunset)
  • Park only in designated areas
  • Deposit all trash in available receptacles.
  • No fires allowed and no smoking on trails
  • Stay on designated trails
  • No motorized vehicles, including ATV’s, dirt bikes, and snowmobiles
  • No bicycles
  • No dogs
  • No firearms, hunting, or collecting
  • No alcohol
  • No motorboats on lake (canoes allowed)

Please note: This trail is an interpretive/nature trail. Please treat the trail as such, respecting the research and wildlife in the area.


Directions from Google Maps

From Highway 65, turn east at Cooper’s Corner onto 237th Avenue. Take this road until it ends at a T-junction, where you will see a sign for Cedar Creek. Take a right at the T onto Gopher Drive.  Follow the road around the curve to the left as the road changes names to 229th Avenue.  Stay on 229th and take a left onto Durant Street. Go up Durant Street and turn right onto the dirt road at the end which leads to the parking area, kiosk, portable restroom and trailhead. 

Special thanks extended to the City of East Bethel, friends and supporters of Cedar Creek ESR, and the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources for providing funding for this project.