New Features and Ongoing Improvements

The Appleton Area Recreational OHV Park, which opened in 2003, is one of only two designated, signed off-road riding areas in southwest Minnesota.  That, and the fact that it’s open year-round and to all types of off-highway vehicles, helps it draw families from hundreds of miles. It also brings the small town of Appleton, Minnesota, much welcomed tourism activity.

Appleton ORVConcreteObstacleMore obstacles to challenge riders of all vehicle types will be added as materials become available.Part of the appeal of the 330-acre park is its diversity of trails, accommodating all skill levels. Past gravel-mining activity created rolling terrain enjoyed today by owners of ATVs, off-highway motorcycles (OHMs) and off-road vehicles (ORVs). The park has designated trails as well as play areas, enduro and youth tracks, rock crawls and log steps, and more. 

The Master Plan

Last year, Swift County began the process of giving the OHV Park a new look. In the short term, the County received a federal Recreational Trails Program (RTP) grant from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). This grant split the funds so that $75,000 was directed to land acquisition to further expand the park boundaries. The other $75,000 is for rehabilitation of the current area.

In the long term, the County has created a Master Plan for major improvements, including a porous paving of the parking areas, a beach area and non-motorized boat launch, trail updates and opening newly acquired areas. The County submitted and was approved for Regional Significant Status from the Greater Minnesota Regional Parks and Trails Commission, making it eligible for Legacy Funding.

Last fall, the County hired UP! Outside to facilitate and perform the rehabilitation work. The motorcycle motocross track was recreated in November. The jumps were reconfigured to be more flexible. Table tops were added so that beginners can use the track, but still give more experienced riders a challenge. The kids track was moved closer to the shelter. Benches were added so parents can more easily watch their kids have fun on the track. The old routes were closed off and seeded.

This spring, improvements continued. Braided trail areas and trail treads collecting water and rutted are being repaired. The mud run in the west parking area will be dredged and smoothed out, making it both more challenging as well as easier to abandon the attempt or be pulled out if things are not going well.

Appleton ORVBouldersSome of the old rock crawls are still available to challenge rider skills.Signing is being updated to make it more useful. Current signage is often not easy to follow or understand. Metal posts are being replaced with wooden posts that are more aesthetically pleasing and more flexible for messaging. Allowed uses for each trail will be displayed on 12-inch by 12-inch signs. 

Challenge features are being added for all vehicle types. Culverts, telephone poles, rocks, and other obstacles will be in several areas as materials become available. One new challenge will be the off-road vehicle (ORV)/truck-only section located south of Highway 59. This area is currently closed due to flooding. Once it reopens, it will also receive new signs and the interior trails will be better marked and repaired if needed.

There are currently no OHV clubs assisting with maintenance. A club or two could assist the County to keep the new park renovations intact for a longer period of time, and be present to assist during weekends. Club involvement could be a day, a weekend, or several times during the riding season. They could help install or update signs, keep the trails clear, or fix trails that become rutted and holding water. Working to keep riders on the designated trails and play areas will take an ongoing effort. Clubs interested in helping keep this popular OHV park open and in great condition should contact Devon Savage, Swift County Parks and Drainage Technician, at 320.843.5341 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Short- and the long-term improvements will continue over the next several years. At the end of the journey, the Appleton Area Recreational OHV Park will continue to be a great place for all OHV types and riders of all skill levels. Check out the new features and stop back often to see the ongoing improvements.