UPDATED FEB 28, 2020
Minnesota’s hiking trails rival the well-known beauty of its lakes. And you don’t even have to leave the Twin Cities to find one (but you can)! Check out this comprehensive list of local hiking spots to get started. Grab a friend, your pup, maybe even a picnic (weather dependent), and hit the trails!
If birdwatching combined with peaceful walks is your jam, then Carlos Avery, just 30 miles from MPLS, is the place for you. The area’s nine miles of trails are ideal for leisurely strolls on gravel roads through marshlands and swamps. Watch the songbirds fly by, and catch a glimpse of deer and turkey as you get your daily steps in! Oh, and if you go in the summer months, be sure to pack your bug spray.
Hike over 10 miles throughout Minnehaha Park in the Minnehaha/Hiawatha neighborhoods, from the 53-foot Minnehaha Falls all the way to the Mississippi River. Follow the trail to the bluffs along the river before looping back to the falls, all while taking in the beautiful surrounding views. The best news? A path lined with large trees dampens the buzzing urban noise in an instant! Though, with all that beauty, the trails tend to be packed during the spring and summer months.
A hidden gem of MPLS, the Winchell Trail is the perfect way to get your nature fix without leaving the city. A major access point to this path, which is believed to follow an old Native American trail, is at 44th and West River Road. From there, the trail is roughly five miles long round-trip, and is the ideal destination for those looking for a shorter, but nonetheless challenging hike on mostly unpaved land.
Teddy Wirth is a mecca for hiking enthusiasts of all skill levels. This place really has it all: golf courses, gardens, a fishing pier, a picnic area, and miles upon miles of trails. Depending on the loop, you can work up a sweat on easy, moderate, or difficult trails. Then, head south of Wirth Lake to explore an intermediate trail with access to the Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden and Bird Sanctuary.
Mill Ruins Park is for the fitness-lover turned history nerd (we may have just described all of MPLS), and offers a different feel than your typical trekking path. Stroll down memory lane in this downtown park, and check out the ruins of the city’s old flour mills. On the other side, you’ll see the breathtaking St. Anthony’s Falls—the only waterfall on the Mississippi River—and the Stone Arch Bridge.
Hike along several miles of paved paths through the only true gorge on the Mississippi River. It’s the perfect place to walk your dog or catch up with a friend as you take in yet another beautiful view of the Twin Cities landscape. With covered picnic shelters, it’s also a great place to make a stop for lunch al fresco!
Fort Snelling offers countless outdoor activities for the fitness-lover, and it’s the real deal when it comes to hiking. With 18 miles of trails through the woods and along banks of the Minnesota and Mississippi Rivers, this park is gorgeous at all times of the year, and especially during the fall. For a dose of history with your hike, trek up to Fort Snelling and check out the old military base and gathering grounds of the Dakota tribe.
The Twin Cities are known for hidden spots that feel like they’re miles outside of the city. Hidden Falls Regional Park in St. Paul is no exception. Walk along 6.7 miles of paved paths and sniff out where those namesake falls are hiding. After getting your sweat on, take advantage of the park’s grills and reward yourself with some BBQ. And as the sun sets, gather round the fire rings to end your day!
What was once the site of an immigrant community is now a wooded park, perfect for an afternoon stroll. A peaceful stream bisecting the land adds a wild ambiance to the space in the heart of St. Paul. You can stop here as part of a longer trek down the seven-mile Bruce Vento Regional Trail to enjoy an oasis of greenery in the middle of the city.
Need a stress release after a long day at work? Wood Lake Nature Center is the place for you. On the site of an old lake in Richfield, Wood Lake is a quiet oasis with winding trails through marsh and prairie lands. Take a deep breath and bask in the peaceful atmosphere. Keep an eye out for birds and other wildlife as you take on this three-mile stroll.
Make the short trip to Eagan for a long hike! Take the Holland/Jensen Lake Trailhead to trek over 14 miles of wooded trails. And definitely be sure to stop by one of the beaches for a swim or picnic to refresh yourself after a long day. Trees, trails, and beaches: what more could you ask for?
Just south of Minneapolis lies nearly 18 miles of hiking, ready to be explored! Work up a sweat as you follow the winding, paved or turf trails before dipping your toes into Hyland Lake or visiting the Richardson Nature Center. The reserve also offers camping areas, making it the perfect overnight destination in the spring, summer, or early fall. Wake up to the sounds of nature as you step off your campsite for a quick two-mile jaunt around Hyland Lake before hitting the rest of the trail!
In the mood for a long hike? And we mean LONG! Spanning over 63 miles between Plymouth and Cosmos, the Luce Line Trail is moderate and suitable for all fitness levels (in portions). The path alternates between crushed limestone, granite, paved asphalt, and mowed grass. And with access points along the way, you can choose how long you want your adventure to be! It’s perfect for pups, too.
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