About Us

Director's Message

Greetings from the Owatonna Parks and Recreation Department!  

Our department continues to update our website, www.ci.owatonna.mn.us/parksrecreation, to make it more customer friendly; we strongly encourage our users to like us on Facebook too. We have worked hard to also provide information through:  school flyers, weekly columns in the Saturday edition of the Peoples Press, weekly radio shows and community calendar items on KRFO & KOWZ, interviews on the “Owatonna Today Show”, announcements with the Owatonna Area Chamber of Commerce and our own email blasts.  If you would like to receive our e-mails, please send your e-mail address to parkrec@ci.owatonna.mn.us.

What else is NEW?  Lots!  An off-leash Dog Park at Lake Chase, a patio/deck at Brooktree Golf Course, a Mountain Biking Trail in Kaplan’s Woods, a Clubhouse Playground at Manthey Park.  Check out these new amenities, and while you’re at it, bring your camera!  Snap a photo and enter our first annual photo contest!

We have had the Maximum Solutions registration program for a year now, and hope you find it easy to use for activity registration and membership purchases.  Customers can set-up their own individual or family account for registering online; the internet is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and you don’t have to take a trip to the Parks & Recreation office!      

Parks and Recreation are vitally important to establishing and maintaining the quality of life in a community.  Recent studies from colleges and the National Recreation and Parks Association have suggested spending time with nature in our parks and gardens can improve individual satisfaction in life and make us less aggressive, anxious and stressed. So isn’t it time we placed access to nature alongside good health, feeling secure, satisfying employment and positive social relationships as key routes to happiness?  Here’s my list of “The Top Ten Things to Do in Owatonna Parks & Recreation”.  Remember that “Your Best Investment is your Parks and Recreation Department”! 

“The Top Ten Things To Do in your Parks and for Recreation”

10.   Park Cruise

There are 30 parks with over 700 acres of which over 350 are mowed, trimmed and mulched.  If you’re thirsty you can stop at one of our 22 drinking fountains available and if you need a potty stop, there are 24 permanent restrooms and 22 portable restrooms open to the public. 

9.  Pet Work Out

Whether on the road, on a trail, or just walking through the open spaces within a park, there is plenty of space for both you and your pet.  There are two rules when taking your pet to the park; keep your pet on a leash and clean up after them.  There are 24 “pooper scooper” stations within the park system with the majority of them located along the trails.   We go through over 3000 scoopers a year!  Please use them but don’t abuse them.  And check out the NEW Off-Leash Dog Park now open at Chase Lake!!

8.  Minnesota State Public School Orphanage Museum

During a rainy day, visiting the museum located at 540 West Hills Circle would be an excellent choice.  This unique museum is the only museum in Minnesota where the public can learn about the state orphanage era.  A visit to this well maintained museum is educational and interesting, and will help you understand and appreciate the orphanage experience.  Cottage 11 is also open for touring 1:00-4:00pm Tuesday through Sunday; and six audio stations can be found around the campus as well.

7.   Round of Golf

The Brooktree Golf Course or the “muni” as remembered by some of the locals is open to the public until usually mid-November depending on the weather.   If round ball golf is not your game, try Disc (Frisbee) Golf.  The River Rock Disc Golf Course is located in Mineral Springs Park.  Like Brooktree on Facebook for more information and specials. Make sure to check out all the NEW improvements at Brooktree, especially the deck and patio area attached to the clubhouse!

6.  Pick-Up Game

Whatever your game, there are many areas within the park system to enjoy your favorite game.  Five basketball courts, 16 tennis courts, 4 Pickleball courts at Morehouse Park, 5 football fields (2 at Jr. High and 3 at Manthey), 8 sand volleyball courts, 13 soccer fields, 22 ball fields with batting cages at many sites, 18 horseshoe courts and an inline rink at Morehouse. 

5.  Go Fishin’

Fishing opportunities abound, be it in a lake or river, by boat, canoe or from the shore.  Your catch can range from sunfish to walleyes or whatever turns your reel.  Please do not dump live bait into the lakes or river.

Lake Kohlmier offers three fishing piers, as well as hundreds of feet of shoreline and an island.  The boat landing is located at the southeast corner of the lake, off 18th Street SW.  Boaters, remember that outboard motors are prohibited, but electronic trolling motors may be used.  Many different species of fish can be found in this lake. 

The Straight River also provides some excellent fishing opportunities usually done from shore but a canoe works well too.  Lots of shoreline and serenity is available from the popular spots below and above the dam, to your favorite hot spot! 

Chase Lake is one of the locals’ HOTSPOTS!  This lake opened to the public in 2009, and is accessed off County road 45.  There is a portable restroom and a few picnic tables for a picnic.  Fishing from shore for sunnies is the choice of many.

Many a fish tale come from these three favorite fishing spots that include walleye, musky, northern, crappie, bass and oh yeah, an occasional bullhead!

4.   Take a Break

If it’s a lunch break or just a break to get away from it all, the parks offer many areas to just sit back and relax, enjoy life, think, or read a book.  From one of our 100 park benches or 400 picnic tables you can enjoy many different settings.  There is also plenty of space to throw out a blanket or walk into the woods and grab a stump.  If your break includes a snack, please be sure to dispose of the litter in one of the more than 400 receptacles available.  A good way to check a few out is with the “Park Passport Program”.  This popular program is included as an insert in this brochure.

3.  Take a Child to a Playground

Playgrounds are the #1 spot for many children but don’t forget they are available for everyone to enjoy!  From fully handicapped-accessible playgrounds to swings (40 different swings available) large enough for most adults, there are 11 different playground sites all offering their own variety of equipment.  Although there is something for everyone at any age, the most enjoyable experience is to take a young child to a playground.  Young children must be supervised on the equipment as you play along with them; older children can be viewed from a bench that surrounds most playgrounds.  Whatever the age, a camera is a must!  NEW this summer, a Club House playground and other amenities have been added to Manthey Park – check it out!  This would be a great opportunity to snap a photo to enter into the photo contest!

2.  Hike, Bike, and Roll

Whether you like to walk, jog, hike, run, bike, rollerblade or skateboard, there’s a trail out there for you!  We have 8 miles of hard surfaced, handicapped accessible trails along with over 12 miles of wood chipped trails and nature walks.  The hard surfaced trails are open year round, 24 hours a day for your enjoyment.  Wood chipped trails are located throughout Kaplan’s Woods and Manthey Park.  Nature walks are located off the Kaplan’s Woods Parkway Trail and at Leo Rudolph Nature Reserve.  There is exercise equipment located along the trail between Morehouse Park and Lake Kohlmier, installed in 2009.  All the trails offer viewing of a wide variety of wildlife including deer, turkey, beaver, fox, raccoon, pheasants and the more familiar squirrels, rabbits, ducks and geese.  The North Straight River Trail runs from North Street to 26th Street and has a crushed rock surface.  Along this trail you will also find a wood chipped trail loop.  If you have not checked this trail out - it’s a must see!  NEW this summer, Mountain Biking Trails in Kaplan’s Woods!  As you can see, many different types of trail opportunities are available to you no matter what your age or mode of transportation. 

1.  Sunset Picnic at Gainey Park Pavilion

There are 13 different pavilions within the park system that you may reserve or just use (if no one has it reserved).  There are traditional shelters, the heated Morehouse Park Chalet, and the Gainey Park Pavilion which boasts a beautiful fireplace.  With fall’s cooler evenings and earlier sunsets, this site is my favorite.  From this shelter you can view the beautiful Straight River and its fall colors at sunset, and start a fire (wood is provided!).  The fire provides warmth, atmosphere and could be used to roast hot dogs and marshmallows.  If hot dogs are not to your liking, each pavilion has its own grill (there are over 90 grills available within the parks).

I hope you can get out and enjoy this Top 10 or your own Top 10 in YOUR parks this fall. 

If you have any suggestions on how to make further improvements to your Parks & Recreation Department services, please let us know.  

James “Corky” Ebeling

Director of Parks, Recreation and Government Buildings

Owatonna Parks & Recreation Mission Statement

The City of Owatonna Park and Recreation Department shall provide a viable, broad-based source of recreational services and facilities serving all residents of the community. The department shall develop and maintain programs to meet the needs of all persons. The department further shall keep itself aware of the needs of the users through ongoing evaluation and assessment.

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