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Lizzie Streit

APR 18, 2019

Minnesota’s hiking trails rival the beauty of its lakes. And you don’t even have to leave the Twin Cities to find one (but you can)!

Follow your neighborhood path to a winding, woodsy adventure in no time. Check out this comprehensive list of local hiking spots to get started. Grab a friend, your pup, and maybe even a picnic, and get to stepping!

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 in your daily steps! 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 of the river before looping back to the falls, all while taking in your beautiful surroundings. The best news? A path lined with large trees drowns out 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. The trail is roughly five miles round-trip, and is the ideal destination for those looking for a shorter, but challenging hike on mostly unpaved land.

Teddy Wirth is a mecca for hiking enthusiasts of all skill levels. And 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, intermediate, or advanced 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 the typical hiking 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 of the path, you’ll see the breathtaking St. Anthony’s Falls—the only waterfall on the Mississippi River—and the Stone Arch Bridge.

Hike along the only true gorge on the Mississippi for several miles of paved paths. 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, near the airport, offers countless outdoor activities for the fitness-lover, but it’s the real deal when it comes to hiking. With 18 miles of trails through the woods and on the 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 to see the old military base and gathering place for the Dakota tribe.

The Twin Cities are known for hidden spots that feel like they’re miles outside of the city. And Hidden Falls Regional Park in St. Paul is no exception. Walk along 6.7 miles of paved paths and spot 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 with a peaceful stream that runs through the middle. Stop here as you hike down the seven-mile Bruce Vento Regional Trail, and enjoy an oasis of green 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. You can even see some birds and other wildlife as you walk over two miles.

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 awaits 18 miles of natural beauty 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 miles 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, Luce Line Trail is suitable for all skill levels. The path alternates between crushed limestone, crushed 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.