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 trails are pretty clear but snow-covered. The City of Lake Elmo has groomed some of the cross-country ski trails.  John has recently done some trail clearing, check out the map lower on this page.  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 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. For current Nature center opening hours – check “Hours and Location” page for details


Update 10 AM Saturday January 18th – The Park entry road has been cleared and we are open on Saturday January 18th, please call 651-408-2838 if you have questions.

SPOTLIGHT ON: (see calendar page and event page for details)

Paul Red Elk, Creating a Herbal First Aid Kit – Tuesdays at 6 PM February 4-March 17

Syllabus for this series:  Create Your Own Herbal First Aid Kit Syllabus

Big Buckthorn Bonfire – Saturday February 8th, 9 AM until the fire goes out! Think marshmallows, hot chocolate, boots and parkas. Here is a picture of videographer Tom Richie by the Big Buckthorn Pile.

.Big Bt pile

New Committee System formed

The Friends of Lake Elmo’s Sunfish Lake Park, the non-profit corporation that runs the Sally Manzara Interpretive Nature Center, have been frankly surprised by the growth in activities at the nature center. It has truly become a place of Peace and Respect where people of the community can teach or learn about nature. There are more opportunities for participation than the current group can handle! We have established a Committee system for people who wish to work together to participate in the activities of the nature center including program development, science projects, building and grounds enhancements, outreach, and so forth.  Please click on the “Volunteer or Intern” tab above for more detail shown on that page, with contact names for the various Committees. There is no obligation – you may come and attend a Committee meeting just to see what is going on.

To see the illustrated report of the 2019 Birdhouse Nesting Survey, click on this link:  SMINC Birdhouse survey 11-29-19 w pics    For further information on the birdhouse project, click on the Exhibits, Trail Guides and Science Projects tab above.

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 latest 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 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. .  Thanks John!  


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 main 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