Nature center opening hours – check “Hours and Location” page for details – 

We thank Krueger’s Tree Farm for the boughs for the seasonal decorations, and Liz for the arrangements:


There is no admission charge to Sunfish Lake Park, which is open dawn to dusk. The automatic gate has been programmed to close at 9 PM. The Fall Colors are gone and a significant amount of snow has fallen, and the earth is frozen. The trails are pretty clear but snow-covered. As soon as we find out about the City of Lake Elmo’s plan to groom the cross-country ski trails we will post it here.  John has recently done some trail clearing, check out the map lower on this page. The steeper trails have some erosion, watch your step there.   The City has added signs to indicate the direction of travel on the entry/exit roads.  Please drive slowly and carefully – deer abound along the roads.

Admission to the nature center is also free. Generally the nature center is open to the public Monday through Thursday 9 AM-4 PM, Fridays 9 AM to Noon, and 2nd and 4th Saturdays from 10 AM-3 PM.  It is also open by appointment for groups. You may call the nature center at 651-408-2838 to reach the receptionist during open hours, or leave a voice mail at any time.


Regular Buckthorn Removal day is second Saturday of the month, 10 AM to 12 Noon, bring your loppers and gloves, or use ours!  Buckthorn is about the only plant left with green leaves in November, it is easy to spot. We are making progress against this invasive plant that has been colonizing Sunfish Lake Park for over 35 years (by tree ring count).  Please contact George at 651-757-5610 for any questions or details.

To see our Fall Brochure, click on this link, please feel free to print and distribute it:

BrochureFall2019 v2finL

Times of events and programs are shown on the Calendar (click on tab above).  For a more complete description of each event, and sign-up instructions, go to the “Event and Program Descriptions” tab.


The Annual Sunfish Lake Park Buckthorn Festival took place Saturday October 26th. About 40 volunteers in 5 teams competed to to remove buckthorn for a couple of hours and then all the workers got a free lunch of chili dogs roasted over buckthorn logs, and won prizes in a drawing. Everyone  heard an accordion concert, got a chance to play buckthorn games, saw Earle’s agate specimens, and had lots of fun!  Thanks to our sponsors Lake Elmo Bank, Hagberg’s Market, Gorman’s Restaurant, Lake Elmo Inn, Cub Foods, Aamodt’s Apple Farm, and to all our volunteers who worked to make this event a success and put a dent in the buckthorn population of Sunfish Lake Park.


Collected by team STS


Collected by team UMN

The latest resident at the nature center’s Big Birdhouse is the returning Jaime Cardinal, who takes over from the Baltimore Oriole, who had to migrate back.  Stop over and take your family picture with him during the Holidays.




We have officially “Adopted” Sunfish Lake Park in the Lake Elmo Adopt-a-Park Program. John, one of our Board members, has recently walked the trails, removing the “eye-pokers” and “head bangers” to make hiking more pleasant. He also reports that part of the trail along the smaller pond is submerged due to the high water this year.  Thanks John!  The cleared trails are marked with a squiggly line on the accompanying trail map copy:



Think Spring!!

Christa provided the content for the Spring Ephemerals flower photo display, with pictures she took in the Park last Spring.  Come see the latest exhibit update, just to the left of the mail entry door.


For volunteer opportunities, go to the Volunteer or Intern page.

The Friends of Lake Elmo’s Sunfish Lake Park rely on donations to operate the Sally Manzara Interpretive Nature Center as a community resource within our Mission.  Please click on the “How to Donate” page and help us if you can.


Check out our Media page (click on the tab above) to see our videos – 

Emy and turtle pic crop jpeg 11-21-17

Here is a better look at Emy

Emy wink pentagon words 6-4-19