Sakatah Lake State Park is located on rolling hills 14 miles west of Faribault, Minnesota; its uneven terrain the result of glacial activity 14,000 years ago. Originally inhabited by the Wahpekute (Wapacoota) band of Dakota Sioux, they called the area “singing hills” and some of their burial mounds still exist in the park today.
The park land has a mixture of Big Woods habitat, oak barrens, wetlands and agricultural fields near the Cannon River and Lake Sakatah. These waterways were important transit routes and attracted white settlers to the area, one of the first being Alexander Faribault who established a trading post in 1862. Eventually a railroad line was built, running from Faribault to Mankato. Amazingly, this land escaped logging and through the state’s preservation efforts, it is returning to its hardwood forest roots.
With land travel difficult because of the Big Woods, the water routes were also important for the resident Dakota Sioux. In addition to numerous white trading posts, Indian villages existed along the waterways as well.
Sakatah Lake State Park opened to the public in 1967. The rail line was eventually sold to the state and converted into a 41 mile paved path, Sakatah Singing Hills State Trail, three miles of which pass through the park boundaries.