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GMRPTC Director’s Report for April 2023

Below is a message from GMRPTC Executive Director Renee Mattson. You can reach her at

During the Commission’s March 22 meeting at Robbins Island Park in Willmar, Commissioners voted to approve the designation for Hubbard County Deep Lake Park in District 2. With the addition of this new regional park, the Greater Minnesota system now hosts 75 parks, trails, and special features across the six districts.

Deep Lake Park is located just 17 miles north of Park Rapids and, when complete, will offer a variety of activities that highlight the site’s natural features. Hiking trails and ski/snowshoe trails will surround Deep Lake, where non-motorized water activities—including canoeing/kayaking and fishing—will be available. Camping opportunities will include remote sites, camper cabins, and RV sites. Additionally, a system of mountain bike trails will provide biking at the park and connect to the Heartland State Trail.

Deep Lake Park has an interesting history of public recreation, including a ski area and outdoor theater. The 353-acre property has steep elevation on both the west and east sides of the lake, which was the impetus for the now-shuttered Val Chatel Ski Area that opened in the 1950s. The park has several old structures that served visitors when the ski area and theater were in operation. Some of these buildings will be repurposed for the new iteration of the park, and for those structures unable to be put to modern use, elements from them will be used when possible.

The focal point of the park is Deep Lake, but there is also a smaller lake just to the north. Both lakes are undeveloped and host a large variety of birds as well as waterfowl. Deep Lake Park will greatly enhance recreational opportunities in District 2, and the Commission is excited to see the evolution of this park over time.