Six Mile Lake Dispersed Camping Area, Bena, MN

Six Mile Lake
My little RV family at Six Mile Lake dispersed camping area, MN

At 5:41 PM the day has cooled off a little bit. The high, at 76º was by no means hot, just very pleasant, and now it’s 68º outside and a very comfortable 75º inside my RV, Charlene. It’s a warm snap for where I am now, this third week of September in north central Minnesota. I’m at a dispersed camping area known as Six Mile Lake outside of Bena, population 116.

Turning my eyes for a moment from the keyboard of my iPad to glance out the window I’m captivated by the beauty of the late afternoon light filtering through the trees, some of which have begun changing into their autumn finery. My momentary glance out the window becomes an extended gaze.

Fall colors Minnesota
This was taken at Cut Foot Sioux Lake on a day trip from Six Mile Lake.

Right now it’s extraordinarily quiet here. The only sounds on this windless afternoon are those of some birds and my fingers’ clickity-clack on the keyboard. It’s a relaxing, peaceful place. I’m the only one here at the moment. A few fisherman have used the boat launch during the day which is maybe 100′ from where I’m parked, and one couple drove thru the camping area in a blue pickup truck, perhaps just to have a look. Nobody else was camped here last night and it seems likely the same will be true tonight. Wait, there’s another faint sound. I step outside to have a look and when I do I spot a couple red-headed woodpeckers squabbling on a nearby tree, but the sound I heard was the drone of a motorboat out on Six Mile Lake. It’s stopped now. Perhaps they killed the engine in order to fish. I can hear them talking. I’m sure they’re at least a quarter mile out on the lake.  The  following morning  another boater who I take it was a local came up to me and said “What’s going on here?” “Beg pardon?” I replied. “You’re in an area for boaters. I didn’t run over your wire here parking my truck” he said refering to the cable for my portable solar panel “but there are going to be a lot of boaters coming up who won’t be happy you’re parked in this area.”  I’ll spare you any more details of the remaining conversation. Rather than make waves with the locals I moved my rig. In so doing I gave up any hopes of using my solar panel due to the abundant shade.

This area might be a good choice for you if you like quiet and woodsy, especially if you have watercraft, and/or like to fish, and you don’t mind the lack of facilities. If you want hookups, Cherney’s Resort is about 1/10 mile further south on Six Mile Lake Road and has those plus cabins.

The first thing you will see when turning into the camping area is what looks like a spot on the left. This is actually the staging area for people that want to launch their boats into the lake using the boat launch which is just out of view. I chose to park in this area–well to the side so I wouldn’t interfere with use of the launch–because it was the only spot I’d be able to get any sun at all for my solar panel and because I didn’t realize it was right by the boat ramp which was out of view. One boater parked his truck next to my RV in such a way that I would not have been able to unload my motorcycle without moving my rig, but I caught his attention before he was too far from shore and he very considerately came back in to move his truck.

A view of the shoreline of Six Mile Lake From the boat ramp in the dispersed camping area
A view of the shoreline of Six Mile Lake From the boat ramp in the dispersed camping area

CAMPIING AREA NAME: Six Mile Lake Dispersed Camping Area
LOCATION: About 7 miles from Bena: 5 miles east on US 2 and 2 miles south on Six Mile Lake Road to Forest Road 2126
KIND: Forest Service Dispersed Camping Area
SEASONAL: I don’t know. Call the Forest Service (number below)
FEES: Free
RESERVATIONS: No
WEB SITE: Here is the Chippewa Forest home page. I don’t think there is any mention of this dispersed camping area on the site.
HOSTED: No
PHONE: Chippewa National Forest Supervisor’s Office 200 Ash Avenue NW  Cass Lake, MN 56633; 218.335.8600
EMAIL: r9_chippewa_public@fs.fed.us
GPS: These coordinates mark the turnoff from Six Mile Lake Road (Forest Road 2127) into the camping area (Forest Road 2126) N47.30947, W094.12293 .
MVUM: The Forest Service Motor Vehicle Use Map (MVUM) for this area can be downloaded as a PDF here.
GOOGLE MAPS
ACCESS: Six Mile Lake Road is dirt but apparently well maintained. It intersects US 2 at N 47.33805, W 094.11993. I would think it’s easily passable by any rig and that two big rigs could probably pass each other if need be. Six Mile Lake Road is signed as such along US 2 about 5 miles east of Bena. Note: Do not confuse Six Mile Lake Road with Old Six Mile Lake Road which intersects US 2 at N 47.34274, W 094.17761. However, if you were to accidentally turn off US 2 onto Old Six Mile Lake Road it intersects and terminates at Six Mile Lake Road in a few miles at N 47.31770, W 094.12635. That said, Old Six Mile Lake Road is narrower, the ability of 2 vehicles having to pass questionable, sandy in places, and if your rig has much height you’ll be scraping against low hanging branches. Best to stick with Six Mile Lake Road. I’ve seen Six Mile Lake Road referred to as Six Mile Lake Road N.E. on Google Maps. The Forest Service has its own designation for the road, Forest Road 2127. I’ve seen Forest Road abbreviations such as NF-2127 (presumably for National Forest 2127) as well as FR 2127.
SITES: 10
PULL THRU: See note next line
BACK-IN: This area is an abandoned campground so there are no official campsites. That said, the Forest Service generally asks dispersed campers to use areas that have been previously used and here those areas are the former campsites. From what I can tell, when this place was a campground there were about 10 back-in sites. It would be possible, I suppose, in some of the camping areas to turn out and park parallel to the campsite road thus emulating a pull-through. Several of the camping areas could easily handle the largest rig but some have slender, recent growth low hanging tree branches encroaching into them. Got a shears?
MAXIMUM RIG SIZE: None
TENTS: Yes
LEVELNESS: Some leveling may be required
SHADE: Yes, this camping area is very well shaded
SPACING: I’d say the camping areas are not crowded together
TENT PADS: No
FIRE GRILLS: No
PICNIC TABLES: No
PETS: No posted rules

Dispersed site at Six Mile Lake
This site at Six Mile Lake dispersed camping area is probably 60 to 75 feet deep. He’s can hold any rig I can think of.

HOOKUPS: No
DUMP STATION: No

CELLULAR:
On my AT&T iPhone 5s I had two bars plus LTE sometimes, 4G at others  with a download speed of .50 Mbps and upload about the same. As slow as this was I was able to stream video. On my Verizon iPad Air I had 3 bars plus LTE with very fast speed: download over 24 Mbps and upload about 15 Mbps.

TV
Over-the-air: I didn’t check
Cable: No
WiFi: No

RESTROOMS: There’s a vault toilet but I don’t believe it is maintained. I took a quck look then decided I wouldn’t use it.
SOAP: No
SHOWERS: No
TRASH: No
WATER: No
LAUNDRY: No
RECYCLING: No

BUGS: Mosquitos were a minor annoyance when I was here in late September 2014

Six Mile Lake Main Road
In this view we are looking down the main road of the Dispersed Camping Area at Six Mile Lake

NEAREST FACILITIES:
Gas: There’s a pump out front of the Big Winnie General Store and Campground in Bena, about 7 miles
Dump: See line above. $5
Propane: Cass Lake, about 20 miles
Groceries: The Big Winnie General Store has very little. Figure Cass lake for any real shopping


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4 thoughts on “Six Mile Lake Dispersed Camping Area, Bena, MN”

    1. Might be. I’d check to see about hunting seasons and expect to hear gunshots at the crack of dawn if any of the various seasons are open. I’m not sure who to ask, but since it’s a USFS site you might begin with them. I’d also be thinking about what fishing activity might be going on since there is a boat ramp right there.

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