Sunfish Lake Park







City of Lake Elmo



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.












278.26 acres


Driving Directions

Get driving directions from Google Maps to this destination from any address, and send those directions to your phone.

  Area and County
    County   Washington County
    Region   Metro Area


10000 Stillwater Ave N
Lake Elmo, MN

N45 0.160, W92 54.239



All public parks are open from sunrise to one half-hour after sunset.



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





Printable Map(s) with GPS coordinates

Printable map    


Trail running


Mountain biking

Horseback riding







Nature photography




Cross country skiing


Winter hiking





Hiking (multi-use)

5.5 miles

Mountain biking

4 miles (walking on bike trails is prohibited)

Cross country skiing



Hunting and Fishing



Ecological Classification

  Ecological Classification
Ecological Province Ecological Province  

Eastern Broadleaf Forest Province

Ecological Section Ecological Section  

Minnesota & NE Iowa Morainal

Ecological Subsection Ecological Subsection  

St. Paul-Baldwin Plains and Moraines

Land Type Association    

Maplewood Moraine


Native Plant Communities*


Oak - (Red Maple) Woodland

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

* Source: The Minnesota Biological Survey, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Division of Ecological Resources    

Natural Features







Visitor Photos

Share your photo of this destination.


This button not working for you?
Simply email us at
Attach one or more photos and, if you like, a caption.

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 Birding, 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. 

  Sunfish Lake Park

More information can be found on their website:

Sunfish Lake Park   Sunfish Lake Park
Prairie Restoration area  


Sunfish Lake Park    
Sign in parking area Photos
Sunfish Lake Park   Sunfish Lake Park

Park entrance: spring

Sunfish Lake Park   Sunfish Lake Park

Park entrance: winter

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

  Camel Back Trail
Sunfish Lake Park   Sunfish Lake Park

Camel Back Trail








Visitor Videos

Share your video of this destination.


This button not working for you?
Simply email us at
Attach a video, a YouTube link, or a cloud storage link.



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 Sightings

Share your sightings or comments about of this destination.

This button not working for you?
Simply email us at

Kirk Nelson

Insects and Arachnids

common green darner (Anax junius)

red-legged grasshopper (Melanoplus femurrubrum)

  common green darner Sightings





northern leopard frog (Rana pipiens)

spring peeper (Pseudacris crucifer)

wood frog (Rana sylvatica)

  northern leopard frog


Six bird species with conservation status in Minnesota have been seen here:

Special Concern

Acadian Flycatcher (Empidonax virescens)

American White Pelican (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos)

Hooded Warbler (Setophaga citrina)

Purple Martin (Progne subis)

Red-shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus)

Trumpeter Swan (Cygnus buccinator)

eBird Field Checklist

American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)

American Goldfinch (Spinus 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 (Leiothlypis ruficapilla)

Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis)

Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus)

Ovenbird (Seiurus aurocapilla)

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)

Crown Rust (Puccinia coronata)

False Tinder Fungus (Phellinus igniarius)

Thin-Walled Maze Polypore (Daedaleopsis confragosa)

Turkey Tail (Trametes versicolor)


Common Greenshield Lichen

Willow Bracket

Insects and Arachnids

black cherry finger gall mite (Eriophyes cerasicrumena)

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)

plum finger gall mite (Eriophyes emarginatae)

red admiral (Vanessa atalanta)

spotted pink 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 are found here:

Special Concern

American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius)

Minnesota Biodiversity Atlas and Minnesota Biological Survey Vegetation Releves Plant List

Plants frequently found in:

Oak - (Red Maple) Woodland FDs37a

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



absinthe wormwood (Artemisia absinthium)

alfalfa (Medicago sativa ssp. sativa)

Allegheny blackberry (Rubus allegheniensis)

American dog violet (Viola labradorica)

American elm (Ulmus americana)

American hophornbeam (Ostrya virginiana var. virginiana)

American stinging nettle (Urtica gracilis ssp. gracilis)

Amur maple (Acer ginnala)

Bell’s honeysuckle (Lonicera × bella)

big bluestem (Andropogon gerardi)

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 yarrow (Achillea millefolium)

cursed crowfoot (Ranunculus sceleratus)

downy yellow violet (Viola 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 (Claytosmunda claytoniana)

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 var. angustum)

northern pin oak (Quercus ellipsoidalis)

northern prickly ash (Zanthoxylum americanum)

northern red oak (Quercus rubra)

northern starflower (Lysimachia borealis)

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)

round-headed bush clover (Lespedeza capitata)

rue anemone (Thalictrum thalictroides)

Scots 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)

sugar maple (Acer saccharum ssp. saccharum)

sulphur cinquefoil (Potentilla recta)

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 ssp. 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)

wild strawberry (Fragaria virginiana)

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 gerardi (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 (absinthe wormwood)

Athyrium filix-femina var. 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 (wild 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 (northern 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)

Claytosmunda claytoniana (interrupted fern)

Ostrya virginiana var. virginiana (American hophornbeam)

Parthenocissus quinquefolia (Virginia creeper)

Parthenocissus vitacea (woodbine)

Picea glauca (white spruce)

Pinus resinosa (red pine)

Pinus strobus (eastern white pine)

Pinus sylvestris (Scots 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 (sulphur 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 ssp. repens (white clover)

Trillium cernuum (nodding trillium)

Ulmus americana (American elm)

Ulmus pumila (Siberian elm)

Urtica gracilis ssp. gracilis (American stinging nettle)

Verbascum thapsus ssp. thapsus (common mullein)

Viola labradorica (American dog violet)

Viola pubescens (downy yellow violet)

Viola sororia (common blue violet)

Vitis riparia (wild grape)

Zanthoxylum americanum (northern prickly ash)



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

northern starflower

prairie smoke

red baneberry

red clover

sulphur cinquefoil

Scots pine

stiff goldenrod

Virginia waterleaf

white clover

wild columbine

wild geranium

wood anemone

woodland strawberry


painted turtle (Chrysemys picta)   western painted turtle






Last Updated:

© All rights reserved.

About Us

Privacy Policy

Contact Us