Sunfish Lake Park


Area and County

    Washington County
    Metro Area

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284 acres


 Printable Maps with GPS coordinates

Printable map    

Stillwater Lane North

N45 0.151, W92 54.235

Hiking Trails

About 9 miles


No hunting

Ecological Classification Province  

Eastern Broadleaf Forest Province

Ecological Classification

Minnesota & NE Iowa Morainal


St. Paul-Baldwin Plains

Land Type Association(s)

Maplewood Moraine

Native Plant Communities1

Oak - (Red Maple) Woodland

Red Oak - Sugar Maple - Basswood - (Bitternut Hickory) Forest



City of Lake Elmo


No Fee
Unlike Washington County Parks, there is no fee at this City of Lake Elmo Park.

When searching for a location for a nature hike, nature lovers and amateur naturalists may not consider city parks. They are too small, too crowded, over developed, and unless they are nearby, too little known. Sunfish Lake Park should be on the radar for those looking for a nature site in the Twin Cities seven-county metro area.

At 284 acres, Sunfish Lake Park is a small park but the largest park in the City of Lake Elmo park system. It is conveniently located just north of Lake Elmo Park Reserve and unlike that park it does not charge a fee. The City of Lake Elmo calls it the “crown jewel of the Lake Elmo park system.” The Minnesota DNR designated it as a regionally significant ecological area (RSEA). The park includes two native plant communities, Oak - (Red Maple) Woodland and Red Oak - Sugar Maple - Basswood - (Bitternut Hickory) Forest. Thirteen bird species designated as of “greatest conservation need” have been seen here, including Acadian Flycatcher and Hooded Warbler, both species of special concern, and Bald Eagle, a tracked species. American ginseng, a plant species of special concern, is also found here.

Nine miles of wide mowed trails wind through woodlands, around wetlands, and through a 17-acre prairie restoration. On winter weekends the trails are well used by cross-country skiers, dog walkers, and the occasional amateur naturalist.








Visitor Photos
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Kirk Nelson

Sally Manzara Interpretive Nature Center

The Sally Manzara Interpretive Nature Center was opened in Sunfish Lake Park on June 2, 2018.  It is operated by the Friends of Lake Elmo’s Sunfish Lake Park.  Sally Manzara was a teacher, librarian, community and church volunteer.  She loved birdwatching, nature centers, and Sunfish Lake Park.  After she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2012, she and her husband, Tony, decided to use the money they had saved for travel during their retirement as seed money for building a nature center in the park she loved.  After Sally passed away 2½ years later, Tony and others worked with the City Council, and final plans for the nature center were approved in 2017. 

More information can be found on their website:

  Sunfish Lake Park   Sunfish Lake Park

Prairie Restoration area

  Sunfish Lake Park   Sunfish Lake Park

Sign in parking area

  Sunfish Lake Park    

Park Entrance

  Sunfish Lake Park   Sunfish Lake Park
  Sunfish Lake Park   Sunfish Lake Park


  Sunfish Lake Park    

Prairie Restoration

  Sunfish Lake Park   Sunfish Lake Park

Sunfish Lake

  Sunfish Lake Park   Sunfish Lake Park

Ernie’s Trail

  Sunfish Lake Park   Sunfish Lake Park

Rabbit Trail

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Camel Back Trail

  Sunfish Lake Park   Sunfish Lake Park
  Sunfish Lake Park    



  Sunfish Lake Park
Ken Wolter
  Sunfish Lake Park  



Visitor Videos
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Other Videos
  Sunfish Lake Park Trail Ride, Early October
Jane Gilgun

Uploaded on Oct 5, 2010

What better way to spend a Sunday than to ride in the dappled sunshine of Sunfish Lake Park in Lake Elmo, Minnesota, USA. My friend Sandy and I loaded Strike the Gold and Padron's Elegante into Sandy's trailer and off we went to enjoy a trail ride in the warm autumn sun. Along the way, we saw a bald eagle, a wasp stung Ellie, a fallen tree across the trail led to bushwhacking, and trees in the bright colors of early fall. At the end of the ride, a little girl who loves horses rode Ellie, the first time she had been on a horse.

  Sunfish Lake Park Cross Country Ski Trails

Published on Jan 22, 2015

Take a virtual ride on the trails in Sunfish Lake Park. Located off of Highway 5 in Lake Elmo, Minnesota, this hidden gem features more than 9 miles of trails weaving through beautiful and protected natural parkland.

  First Annual Lake Elmo Volksmarch

Published on Sep 15, 2014

The first annual Lake Elmo Volksmarch event will be held on Saturday, October 11, 2014, from 10 am to 3 pm in Sunfish Lake Park. The event will feature several walking routes through the park with interpretive stations along the way, traditional German fare and drink, music, raffle prizes, pony rides, and more. Proceeds from the event will benefit FamilyMeans, a local non-profit that offers many programs to help families and individuals in need.

For more information and to register visit




Visitor Observations
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Kirk Nelson

Insects and Arachnids

common green darner (Anax junius)

red-legged grasshopper (Melanoplus femurrubrum)

common green darner


northern leopard frog (Rana pipiens)

spring peeper (Pseudacris crucifer)

wood frog (Rana sylvatica)

northern leopard frog


Two bird species with conservation status in Minnesota and one tracked species have been seen here:


Special concern

Acadian Flycatcher (Empidonax virescens)

Hooded Warbler (Setophaga citrina)



Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)


eBird Field Checklist


American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)

American Goldfinch (Carduelis tristis)

American Robin (Turdus migratorius)

Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)

Baltimore Oriole (Icterus galbula)

Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus)

Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata)

Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)

Chipping Sparrow (Spizella passerina)

Clay-colored Sparrow (Spizella pallida)

Common Yellowthroat (Geothlypis trichas)

Dark-eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis)

Double-crested Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus)

Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis)

Gray Catbird (Dumetella carolinensis)

Great Egret (Ardea alba)

Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)

Nashville Warbler (Oreothlypis ruficapilla)

Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis)

Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus)

Ovenbird (Seiurus aurocapillus)

Purple Finch (Carpodacus purpureus)

Red-bellied Woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus)

Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)

Ring-necked Pheasant (Phasianus colchicus)

Rose-breasted Grosbeak (Pheucticus ludovicianus)

Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia)

White-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis)

Wood Duck (Aix sponsa)

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (Sphyrapicus varius)

American Goldfinch

Blue Jay

Canada Goose

Dark-eyed Junco


Northern Cardinal

Red-winged Blackbird

Wood Duck

Fungi and Lichens

Black Knot (Apiosporina morbosa)

Common Greenshield Lichen (Flavoparmelia caperata)

False Tinder Fungus (Phellinus igniarius)

Oat Crown Rust (Puccinia coronata f. sp. avenae)

Thin-Walled Maze Polypore (Daedaleopsis confragosa)

Turkey Tail (Trametes versicolor)

Common Greenshield Lichen

False Tinder Fungus

Insects and Arachnids

black cherry finger gall mite (Eriophyes cerasicrumena)

chokecherry finger gall mite (Eriophyes emarginatae)

dot-tailed whiteface (Leucorrhinia intacta)

eastern tent caterpillar moth (Malacosoma americanum)

eastern tiger swallowtail (Papilio glaucus)

goldenrod gall fly (Eurosta solidaginis)

multicolored Asian lady beetle (Harmonia axyridis)

red admiral (Vanessa atalanta)

spotted lady beetle (Coleomegilla maculata)

western honey bee (Apis mellifera)

eastern tiger swallowtail

red admiral


American red squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus)

eastern gray squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis)

muskrat (Ondatra zibethicus)

plains pocket gopher (Geomys bursarius)

whitetail deer (Odocoileus virginianus)

American red squirrel


One plant species with conservation status in Minnesota is found here:


Special concern

American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius)


Plants frequently found in:

Oak - (Red Maple) Woodland FDs37a

Red Oak - Sugar Maple - Basswood - (Bitternut Hickory) Forest MHs38c



absinth wormwood (Artemisia absinthium)

alfalfa (Medicago sativa ssp. sativa)

Allegheny blackberry (Rubus allegheniensis)

American dog violet (Viola labradorica)

American elm (Ulmus americana)

American starflower (Lysimachia borealis)

Amur maple (Acer ginnala)

Bell’s honeysuckle (Lonicera × bella)

big bluestem (Andropogon gerardii)

bigtooth aspen (Populus grandidentata)

black cherry (Prunus serotina var. serotina)

black raspberry (Rubus occidentalis)

black-seeded plantain (Plantago rugelii var. rugelii)

bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis)

boxelder (Acer negundo var. negundo)

bull thistle (Cirsium vulgare)

bur oak (Quercus macrocarpa var. macrocarpa)

Canada mayflower (Maianthemum canadense)

Canada thistle (Cirsium arvense)

chokecherry (Prunus virginiana var. virginiana)

cleavers (Galium aparine)

common blue violet (Viola sororia)

common buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica)

common burdock (Arctium minus)

common cinquefoil (Potentilla simplex)

common dandelion (Taraxacum officinale ssp. officinale)

common false Solomon’s seal (Maianthemum racemosum var. racemosum)

common mullein (Verbascum thapsus ssp. thapsus)

common strawberry (Fragaria virginiana)

common yarrow (Achillea millefolium)

cursed crowfoot (Ranunculus sceleratus)

downy yellow violet (Viola pubescens var. pubescens)

dwarf raspberry (Rubus pubescens)

early meadow rue (Thalictrum dioicum)

eastern false rue anemone (Enemion biternatum)

eastern redcedar (Juniperus virginiana var. virginiana)

eastern star sedge (Carex radiata)

eastern white pine (Pinus strobus)

field horsetail (Equisetum arvense)

fragrant bedstraw (Galium triflorum)

garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata)

graceful sedge (Carex gracillima)

gray dogwood (Cornus racemosa)

green ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica)

ground ivy (Glechoma hederacea)

hooked buttercup (Ranunculus recurvatus var. recurvatus)

interrupted fern (Osmunda claytoniana)

ironwood (Ostrya virginiana var. virginiana)

jack-in-the-pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum)

Japanese barberry (Berberis thunbergii)

kidney-leaved buttercup (Ranunculus abortivus)

late goldenrod (Solidago altissima)

limber honeysuckle (Lonicera dioica)

Missouri gooseberry (Ribes missouriense)

Morrow’s honeysuckle (Lonicera morrowii)

nodding trillium (Trillium cernuum)

northern hackberry (Celtis occidentalis)

northern lady fern (Athyrium filix-femina ssp. angustum)

northern pin oak (Quercus ellipsoidalis)

northern prickly ash (Zanthoxylum americanum)

northern red oak (Quercus rubra)

ostrich fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris var. pensylvanica)

pagoda dogwood (Cornus alternifolia)

paper birch (Betula papyrifera var. papyrifera)

Pennsylvania buttercup (Ranunculus pensylvanicus)

Philadelphia fleabane (Erigeron philadelphicus var. philadelphicus)

plains cottonwood (Populus deltoides ssp. molinifera)

prairie fleabane (Erigeron strigosus)

prairie smoke (Geum triflorum var. triflorum)

quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides)

red baneberry (Actaea rubra ssp. rubra)

red clover (Trifolium pratense)

red elderberry (Sambucus racemosa var. racemosa)

red maple (Acer rubrum var. rubrum)

red pine (Pinus resinosa)

rose twisted-stalk (Streptopus lanceolatus var. longipipes)

rough-fruited cinquefoil (Potentilla recta)

round-headed bush clover (Lespedeza capitata)

rue anemone (Thalictrum thalictroides)

Scotch pine (Pinus sylvestris)

sensitive fern (Onoclea sensibilis)

shepherd’s purse (Capsella bursa-pastoris)

Siberian elm (Ulmus pumila)

Siberian peashrub (Caragana arborescens)

silver maple (Acer saccharinum)

smooth Solomon’s seal (Polygonatum biflorum var. commutatum)

smooth sumac (Rhus glabra)

spinulose wood fern (Dryopteris carthusiana)

stiff goldenrod (Solidago rigida ssp. rigida)

stinging nettle (Urtica dioica ssp. gracilis)

sugar maple (Acer saccharum ssp. saccharum)

touch-me-not (Impatiens sp.)

Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia)

Virginia stickseed (Hackelia virginiana)

Virginia waterleaf (Hydrophyllum virginianum var. virginianum)

western poison ivy (Toxicodendron rydbergii)

white clover (Trifolium repens)

white oak (Quercus alba)

white rattlesnake root (Nabalus albus)

white spruce (Picea glauca)

wild columbine (Aquilegia canadensis)

wild geranium (Geranium maculatum)

wild grape (Vitis riparia)

wild sarsaparilla (Aralia nudicaulis)

wood anemone (Anemone quinquefolia var. quinquefolia)

woodbine (Parthenocissus vitacea)

woodland strawberry (Fragaria vesca ssp. americana)

yellow avens (Geum aleppicum)


Acer ginnala (Amur maple)

Acer negundo var. negundo (boxelder)

Acer rubrum var. rubrum (red maple)

Acer saccharinum (silver maple)

Acer saccharum ssp. saccharum (sugar maple)

Achillea millefolium (common yarrow)

Actaea rubra ssp. rubra (red baneberry)

Alliaria petiolata (garlic mustard)

Andropogon gerardii (big bluestem)

Anemone quinquefolia var. quinquefolia (wood anemone)

Aquilegia canadensis (wild columbine)

Aralia nudicaulis (wild sarsaparilla)

Arctium minus (common burdock)

Arisaema triphyllum (jack-in-the-pulpit)

Artemisia absinthium (absinth wormwood)

Athyrium filix-femina ssp. angustum (northern lady fern)

Berberis thunbergii (Japanese barberry)

Betula papyrifera var. papyrifera (paper birch)

Capsella bursa-pastoris (shepherd’s purse)

Caragana arborescens (Siberian peashrub)

Carex gracillima (graceful sedge)

Carex radiata (eastern star sedge)

Celtis occidentalis (northern hackberry)

Cirsium arvense (Canada thistle)

Cirsium vulgare (bull thistle)

Cornus alternifolia (pagoda dogwood)

Cornus racemosa (gray dogwood)

Dryopteris carthusiana (spinulose wood fern)

Enemion biternatum (eastern false rue anemone)

Equisetum arvense (field horsetail)

Erigeron philadelphicus var. philadelphicus (Philadelphia fleabane)

Erigeron strigosus (prairie fleabane)

Fragaria vesca ssp. americana (woodland strawberry)

Fragaria virginiana (common strawberry)

Fraxinus pennsylvanica (green ash)

Galium aparine (cleavers)

Galium triflorum (fragrant bedstraw)

Geranium maculatum (wild geranium)

Geum aleppicum (yellow avens)

Geum triflorum var. triflorum (prairie smoke)

Glechoma hederacea (ground ivy)

Hackelia virginiana (Virginia stickseed)

Hydrophyllum virginianum var. virginianum (Virginia waterleaf)

Impatiens sp. (touch-me-not)

Juniperus virginiana var. virginiana (eastern redcedar)

Lespedeza capitata (round-headed bush clover)

Lonicera × bella (Bell’s honeysuckle)

Lonicera dioica (limber honeysuckle)

Lonicera morrowii (Morrow’s honeysuckle)

Lysimachia borealis (American starflower)

Maianthemum canadense (Canada mayflower)

Maianthemum racemosum var. racemosum (common false Solomon’s seal)

Matteuccia struthiopteris var. pensylvanica (ostrich fern)

Medicago sativa ssp. sativa (alfalfa)

Nabalus albus (white rattlesnake root)

Onoclea sensibilis (sensitive fern)

Osmunda claytoniana (interrupted fern)

Ostrya virginiana var. virginiana (ironwood)

Parthenocissus quinquefolia (Virginia creeper)

Parthenocissus vitacea (woodbine)

Picea glauca (white spruce)

Pinus resinosa (red pine)

Pinus strobus (eastern white pine)

Pinus sylvestris (Scotch pine)

Plantago rugelii var. rugelii (black-seeded plantain)

Polygonatum biflorum var. commutatum (smooth Solomon’s seal)

Populus deltoides ssp. molinifera (plains cottonwood)

Populus grandidentata (bigtooth aspen)

Populus tremuloides (quaking aspen)

Potentilla recta (rough-fruited cinquefoil)

Potentilla simplex (common cinquefoil)

Prunus serotina var. serotina (black cherry)

Prunus virginiana var. virginiana (chokecherry)

Quercus alba (white oak)

Quercus ellipsoidalis (northern pin oak)

Quercus macrocarpa var. macrocarpa (bur oak)

Quercus rubra (northern red oak)

Ranunculus abortivus (kidney-leaved buttercup)

Ranunculus pensylvanicus (Pennsylvania buttercup)

Ranunculus recurvatus var. recurvatus (hooked buttercup)

Ranunculus sceleratus (cursed crowfoot)

Rhamnus cathartica (common buckthorn)

Rhus glabra (smooth sumac)

Ribes missouriense (Missouri gooseberry)

Rubus allegheniensis (Allegheny blackberry)

Rubus occidentalis (black raspberry)

Rubus pubescens (dwarf raspberry)

Sambucus racemosa var. racemosa (red elderberry)

Sanguinaria canadensis (bloodroot)

Solidago altissima (late goldenrod)

Solidago rigida ssp. rigida (stiff goldenrod)

Streptopus lanceolatus var. longipipes (rose twisted-stalk)

Taraxacum officinale ssp. officinale (common dandelion)

Thalictrum dioicum (early meadow rue)

Thalictrum thalictroides (rue anemone)

Toxicodendron rydbergii (western poison ivy)

Trifolium pratense (red clover)

Trifolium repens (white clover)

Trillium cernuum (nodding trillium)

Ulmus americana (American elm)

Ulmus pumila (Siberian elm)

Urtica dioica ssp. gracilis (stinging nettle)

Verbascum thapsus ssp. thapsus (common mullein)

Viola labradorica (American dog violet)

Viola pubescens var. pubescens (downy yellow violet)

Viola sororia (common blue violet)

Vitis riparia (wild grape)

Zanthoxylum americanum (northern prickly ash)


American starflower

black cherry

black raspberry



common blue violet

common false Solomon’s seal

common mullein

downy yellow violet

early meadow rue

fragrant bedstraw

ground ivy

interrupted fern

Missouri gooseberry

Morrow’s honeysuckle

nodding trillium

northern prickly ash

prairie smoke

red baneberry

red clover

rough-fruited cinquefoil

Scotch pine

stiff goldenrod

Virginia waterleaf

white clover

wild columbine

wild geranium

wood anemone

woodland strawberry


painted turtle (Chrysemys picta)

western painted turtle




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