Summer’s not over yet, and if you head north, passing through Bemidji on the way to the Canadian border, allow some time to stop and explore the Big Bog State Recreation Area in Kelliher.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: Amy Rea)

The Big Bog is a unique nature area, a peat bog 500 square miles large, the biggest such bog in the contiguous U.S. It was long the source of medicinal plants for Native Americans, but the first European settlers to the area tried—and failed—to drain it to turn it into arable land.

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(credit: CBS)

(credit: Amy Rea)

In the northern part of the recreation area is Ludlow Island, which serves as the gateway to the bog. Back in 2005, the state put in a mile-long, environmentally friendly boardwalk, allowing visitors to walk deeply into the bog and learn about its flora and fauna without damaging the bog’s ecosystem.

(credit: Amy Rea)

(credit: Amy Rea)

The boardwalk is constructed in such a way that it allows sunlight and rain to sift through it, meaning the plants beneath don’t suffer from lack of those necessities. Periodically there are benches as well as plenty of interpretive signs to help you understand what you’re seeing and what you should look more closely for.

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(credit: Amy Rea)

(credit: Amy Rea)

You’ll see plenty of trees, including boreal conifers and hardwoods. But as you get further down the boardwalk, trees take a back seat to lower-growing plants, many of which are on Minnesota’s endangered species list, including bog rush and sundews.

(credit: Amy Rea)

(credit: Amy Rea)

Depending on the time of year, you may also see plants rarely seen elsewhere in Minnesota, including carnivorous plants and orchids. This is also a bird-watcher’s paradise.

(credit: Amy Rea)

(credit: Amy Rea)

Adjacent to the boardwalk is a picnic shelter, and just down the road is the southern part of the recreation area, which has campsites, boat launches, and a swimming beach.

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(credit: Amy Rea)

(credit: Amy Rea)

What else is happening in our state? Be sure to check out the 10 p.m. Sunday night WCCO newscasts, where you can learn more in the weekly segment, Finding Minnesota.