In the last several years, the Brooks Lake Improvement Association has worked to improve recreational opportunities on the lake located in the heart of the City of Cokato. The association monitors the use, temperature, clarity, and water quality throughout the year. In recent years, the lake has been treated for the curly-leaf pondweed, an invasive species.
Recently, the Brooks Lake Improvement Association and the DC Boy Scouts worked together to restore the beach at Brooks Lake. The beach, along with a fishing pier and boat landing, are located at Veteran’s Memorial Park. Annually, a fall cleanup takes place around the lake, along with the annual meeting of the association.
The association encourages homeowners on the lake to plant raingardens and restore natural buffers along the lakeshore to increase the filtration of stormwater runoff before it enters the lake.
At Veterans Memorial Park, located on Johnson Ave. N., on the east side of Brooks Lake, people can use the baseball field, picnic shelter, open play fields, playground equipment, a boat launching ramp, and fishing pier. This is also home to the Cokato Kings amateur baseball team, and where you can catch a game in the spring and early summer months.
The home of the Cokato Kernels (formerly Kings) has been Veterans Memorial Field at Veterans Memorial Park in Cokato since the team moved to the community from Kingston in 2010, and the field needed significant improvements.
An announcer’s booth has been built at the field, along with a deck above the home team’s dugout. Grass has been planted and is growing well in the infield, and work continues to be done to improve both the infield and outfield playing surface. This summer, the outfield will be leveled out, and a new fence installed.
Other improvements planned for this summer including pouring a concrete slab for batting cages, and installing a sprinkler system on the field. In the near future, the team would like to build a grandstand that will be a monument to area veterans from each branch of the military. Many of these improvements are aimed at getting a region tournament to Cokato one day.
Peterson Park is located on Broadway and Fourth Avenue. The 4.8-acre park is adjacent to both the business district and the elementary school, and is the site of many community activities, including the annual Cokato Corn Carnival.
Children find hours of active fun with playground equipment, ball diamonds, and a steep hill for winter sledding.
For wintertime play, many people go to Mooers Avenue Park, located at Eighth Street and Mooers Avenue. Skaters enjoy the hockey rink and the open skating rink. If they get too cold, they can take a break in the warming house provided by the city.
There are also two tennis courts and a basketball court located on Jackson Avenue, between Fifth and Sixth streets, near the Cokato Swimming Pool.
Those who live on the southeast end of Cokato frequently go to Prairie Park, a neighborhood park located in the Builders Park Addition. The park offers playground equipment, ball fields, two volleyball courts, a basketball court, and open space.
For a good game of horseshoes, head to Railroad Park, which has eight horseshoe pits. It is located on Broadway Avenue, adjacent to the business district, and provides lights for evening use.
Unity Park was put in after a tornado struck downtown Cokato in 1992. It memorializes residents’ efforts in restoring the city. This central park offers benches for relaxing.
Trailstone Park is located in the southwest corner of town and has playground equipment.
For walkers, bikers, runners, and inline skaters, the Dassel-Cokato Regional Trail offers a six-mile paved pathway that runs between the two cities, providing a safe avenue to exercise and/or travel to and from the middle school/high school complex.
Also, the Early Childhood Center playground is open to the public year round and offers playground equipment for preschool-aged children. It is located in the DC High School complex.
The DC Regional Ice and Sports Center (DCRISC) has been a dream the community has been trying to make a reality for more than 17 years due to its mission to build the arena debt free. The dream is coming to fruition, with the shell of the arena already constructed, and work continuing on the inside as funds allow.
Last fall, the DCRISC was one of 11 recipients of a Mighty Ducks grant from the Minnesota Amateur Sports Commission. The $200,000 grant, meant construction on the ice arena could continue seamlessly from Phase 2 to Phase 3. Before receiving the grant, the DCRISC had at least $1.3 million in funds from non-state funding sources, which was enough to complete the project through Phase 2.
Phase 1 of the project was building a 135-foot-by-250-foot exterior shell of the arena at a cost of $1 million; Phase 2 was building out the interior of the arena with locker rooms, acquiring hockey boards, and installing a fire protection system at a cost of $350,000; Phase 3 of the project is the installation of a refrigeration system.
The completion of Phase 2 allows the DCRISC to obtain an occupancy license from the state of Minnesota, allowing the building to be used. However, without the installation of the refrigeration system, the cooperation of the weather is needed to provide natural ice for skating purposes.
While providing an additional sheet of ice for hockey in the winter, the building will also be used for school sports like golf, baseball, softball, and track.
River routes, county parks
Canoeing down all or part of the 125-mile North Fork Crow River Canoe Route, one could spend a morning, afternoon, or even a full day or two.
Access points and campsites are located every nine to 15 miles along the river in both Meeker and Wright counties. The route begins at Lake Koronis in Stearns County and ends where the Crow River joins the Mississippi River at Dayton.
At Wildlife County Park, there are also opportunities for paddling, with a canoe access and two canoe campsites. The park is located four miles north of Cokato off Wright Co. Rd. 3, on the bank of the North Fork of the Crow River.
Collinwood Regional Park, located three miles southwest of Cokato off Wright Co. Rd. 31, is another park that one could spend hours or days enjoying. There are facilities for campers, swimmers, picnickers, hikers, cross country skiers, and boaters within its 308-acre borders. The modern campground is open from early May through October. Group camp sites and a large picnic shelter area are also available. For more information, call (320) 286-2801.
To take advantage of a wooded picnic area overlooking the lake, a fishing dock, and boat launch, head to Mud Lake County Park, located at the junction of Wright Co. Rd. 35 and 4, five miles north of Cokato. It is open during the summer months.
Albrights Mill County Park is located northeast of Cokato, four miles north of Highway 12 on Wright Co. Rd. 5. This peaceful park along the shore of the North Fork of the Crow River offers a picnic area, canoe launch, and primitive canoe campsite.
Snowmobile enthusiasts have access to hundreds of miles of snowmobile trails in both Wright and Meeker counties. The Meeker County trails, which can be entered just northwest of the city of Dassel, connect with the Glacial Lakes, Stearns, and Luce Line trails.