Just southeast of Battle Lake, MN, in west-central Minnesota lakes country, is another one of the lesser-known roadside parks that offers a hike to one of the highest points in the state: Inspiration Peak. There is no admission fee, just a parking lot and picnic area, an informational sign, and a paved trail up to the summit.
The Leaf Mountains, a 50-mile range of hills in southern Otter Tail County, are a remnant of glaciers moving through roughly 100,000 years ago. They are a thing of beauty in western Minnesota’s rolling farmland and lake-spotted woodlands. The highest of these hills, Inspiration Peak, has a quarter-mile paved hiking trail up to the top and an observation platform. It’s a short, but steep hike, and offers a panoramic view in three directions of the hills, farms, lakes, and woods surrounding the peak.
Minnesota author Sinclair Lewis described the view as follows: “there’s to be seen a glorious 20-mile circle of some 50 lakes scattered among fields and pastures, like sequins fallen on an old paisley shawl.” Which I suppose is pretty accurate. The Ojibwe Indian tribes who predate all of us referred to this peak as “Rustling Leaf Mountain,” as did early pioneers of the area as well, until Lewis started writing about it. It was dedicated as a state wayside park in 1932, thence termed “Inspiration Peak.”
You may see a few other folks here at any given time, but this is a largely unknown site, another one of those places most Minnesotans don’t even realize is right in their back yard. The surrounding maple and oak savannahs are especially beautiful in the fall, but as you will see in these photos, the view is magnificent in any season.
The apex of Inspiration Peak is at 1,750 feet above sea level, and is on of the highest peaks in the state outside of the North Shore’s Sawtooth Mountains. Although I would *not* recommend trying to go here during the middle of a raging thunderstorm that resembles the sky opening and the wrath of God being thrust upon you. Nobody wins in that situation.
While in the area: Glendalough State Park is nearby, also is the touristy town of Battle Lake. There are quiet a few roadside attractions around here like the Big Indian Chief, Our Lady of the Lakes, or the town of Vining.