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the lake at Hartford Beach State Park at night

The lake at Hartford Beach State Park at night. Photo: Park Facebook Page.

Rocky bluffs, hardwood forests, and mixed grass and wildflower prairies surround this picturesque park located in Northeastern South Dakota only 55 miles north of Watertown. This area was once a trading hub for French and English explorers and Native American Indians.

This area, now Hartford Beach State Park, still contains historic sites and remnants from times long past. The park’s campground and trails are nestled within the woodlands surrounding Big Stone Lake offering guests opportunities to swim, boat, camp, hike, fish, picnic, and bird watch.

Activities

Whether you plan to spend a few hours here or camp overnight you’ll discover plenty of activities to keep you entertained during your visit to this beautiful South Dakota state park. Hartford Beach State Park offers guests overnight options, scenic picnic areas, warming shelters, a playground, horseshoes, volleyball courts, lawn games, and a 9-hole Disc Golf course. You’ll have to bring your own discs to play golf but you can check out lawn games, horseshoes, and volleyballs inside the park.

And if you will be visiting the park during the winter you may also enjoy cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Equipment for both of these activities may be rented inside the park.

Here are some more activities that you can do during your visit to Hartford Beach State Park:

Boating at Hartford Beach State Park

Spend some quality time out on Big Stone Lake during your visit to Hartford Beach State Park. You may bring your own boat or rent a canoe, kayak, or paddleboard inside the park, and enjoy a peaceful paddle past rocky bluffs and wooded shores. A boat ramp is conveniently located for easy access to the lake and life jackets may be checked out.

Swimming at Hartford Beach State Park

Planning a visit to Hartford Beach State Park during the summer? You’ll be happy to learn that the park has a beach area along Big Stone Lake. What a refreshing way to cool off during hot humid days! This picturesque beach area is surrounded by rocky bluffs and woodlands. The park, however, does not employ lifeguards, so swim at your own risk.

Hiking at Hartford Beach State Park

Hartford Beach State Park features 5 hiking trails that wind through the hardwood forest, mixed grass and wildflower prairie, and along the lake. These trails highlight some of the local flora and fauna as well as historic sites and scenic overlooks.

Here are a couple of the trails at Hartford Beach State Park:

  • The Robar Trail – A moderate 0.75 mile trail across open wildflower prairie and through the picturesque cottonwood trees. This trail is named for Solomon Robar, one of the men who established the log cabin trading post that lies along this pathway. It dates back to 1863.
  • The Hartford Beach State Park TRACK Trail – This 0.75 mile loop follows the Aspen Springs Trail as it winds through woodlands, prairie, and along the creek.

Fishing at Hartford Beach State Park

Spend a quiet morning fishing for bass, sunfish, Northern pike, bluegill, crappie, perch, and walleye during your visit to Hartford Beach State Park. As long as you have a South Dakota fishing license you may fish from boat or shore along Big Stone Lake. And don’t worry if you don’t have a fishing pole, you can check one out at the Visitor Center. The park also has a handy fish cleaning station.

Birding at Hartford Beach State Park

The peaceful areas inside Hartford Beach State Park provide amazing viewing opportunities for a variety of bird species. The woodlands and lake attract both native and migratory birds including bobolinks, chickadees, woodpeckers, grosbeaks, nuthatches, cardinals, sparrows, meadowlarks, pheasants, wild turkeys, thrashers, geese, and ducks.

Nature and Wildlife at Hartford Beach State Park

Birds, squirrels, deer, rabbits, prairie dogs, raccoons, otters, beavers, turtles, snakes, lizards, and more may be seen inside Hartford Beach State Park. The area inside and around the park features mixed grass and wildflower prairie, native hardwoods, clear spring-fed creeks, rugged bluffs, and the timbered shoreline of Big Stone Lake.

The park also features historic sites, including Native American burial mounds that may date back as far as 300 AD.

Pets

Pets are allowed at Hartford Beach State Park as long as they are supervised and leashed. Pets are not allowed in the swimming area or inside park buildings.

Camping

Hartford Beach State Park features 87 electric campsites and 4 camping cabins nestled within the wooded forest not far from Big Stone Lake. Campsites and cabins are available year round. Each has a picnic table and fire ring and is conveniently located near flush toilets, showers, and drinking water.

The rustic camping cabins have one large room with bunk beds, electricity, heat, and air conditioning. Each cabin sleeps up to 4 guests.

For overnight guests visiting off-season: the park water may be turned off between Oct 1 and April 30, but vault toilets are still accessible during that time.

Park Location

Hartford Beach State Park
13672 Hartford Beach Rd
Corona, SD 57227
Phone: 605.432.6374

Park Website
Reservations

Map

Video

Here is a short YouTube video with some drone footage of Hartford Beach State Park: