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URBAN PATHS AND SCENIC TRAILS: THE BEST RUNNING SPOTS IN MSP

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LIZZIE STREIT

JUL 2, 2019

Lace up your sneakers, Fitt fam. We’ve got some running to do! From urban paths to lakeside trails, the Twin Cities have a spot for every kind of runner.

Sprint into spring with a loop around Lake of the Isles, power through summer on the shady Cedar Lake Trail, and take in the gorgeous fall colors along the Mississippi River. You can even extend your runs through the winter on plowed roads and paths!

Read on for a list of MSP’s go-to running spots, where you can crush your marathon training, take a jog with friends, or stop for a post-sweat drink.

Take your next jaunt through the heart of the Twin Cities in the surrounding neighborhoods and beautiful landscapes of the “U.” The area is filled with hills, making it the perfect destination for a hard workout. And if you’re looking for some post-sweat grub, check out Annie’s Parlour for the best burgers in town!

Only in the Twin Cities can you start a run in the city and end in a spot that makes you feel like you’re a long way from home. For your next long run, head to Hidden Falls and go from urban landscapes to wooded backdrops in no time. This park offers 6.7 miles of paved paths, complete with a view of those namesake falls (they aren’t really that hidden).

A spot for the history nerd turned runner! Get your heart rate up as you run across the Stone Arch Bridge to the sound of the St. Anthony Falls crashing beside you (no headphones needed!). Soon, you’ll hit the Mill Ruins Park on the west bank of the river, home to the historic remains of the city’s flour mills. Take a break as you stroll through and snap an Insta photo, or extend your run on the West River Parkway.

Grab your sneaks and pay a visit to Isles, Bde Maka Ska, Harriet, Cedar, and Brownie. Yep, you read that right — one run, five lakes! The entire trail is just under 13 miles, or you can choose to loop around a single lake for a shorter run. End your workout with coffee or kombucha (or beer!) at Bread & Pickle in the warmer months. In the winter, finish your run with a brisk walk across the frozen lakes!

For a woodsy excursion, get lost along the trails that follow Minnehaha Creek. You’ll forget that you’re in a city on this luscious path! Plus, you can finish at the breathtaking Minnehaha Falls. They’re gorgeous all year-round, but especially when they freeze. Speaking of, over three miles of trails in Minnehaha Regional Park are plowed in the winter, so you won’t have to worry about trekking through snow on your way to the falls.

The view of gorgeous homes along Summit Ave. will make any run bearable. This historic street spans over four miles, all the way to downtown St. Paul. Take this path for a Sunday morning run before brunch with friends, or for a pre-beer jaunt on Saturdays. Fun fact: Summit Ave. has the longest stretch of Victorian homes in the whole country!

Want an endorphin boost with a side of history? On this trail, you’ll run next to old railroad lines nestled between native prairie grasses. The entire path is just under five miles, and connects to tons of other trails, including the Midtown Greenway. With excellent tree coverage on most of the route, you can even pound this pavement on hot summer days. Oh, and keep an eye out for deer. They’ve been known to make a visit!

Sure, the Greenway isn’t as picturesque as the trails along the river or lakes, but it’s the perfect connector! This 5.5-mile trail runs from Uptown to Midtown, with multiple outlets to other paths. Plus, the city keeps this one plowed in the winter, making it easy for those spring marathoners to fit in their training runs.

If you can’t make it to the Chain of Lakes for a run, we got you covered. Log 2.5 miles around Lake Nokomis in the heart of South Minneapolis. It’s always buzzing with activity, so you’ll feel energized to crush your run! And you can even catch a glimpse of the city’s skyline over the lake. Fitt Tip: the paths are big enough for you to bring a dog or stroller, if you’re up for that kind of running!

Go out for a peaceful run on 3.3 miles of paved walkways and an elevated pathway along the Mississippi River Gorge. This path is just below the University of Minnesota, making it the perfect destination for a study break. Grab some friends and get some fresh air away from that stuffy library. Your mind and body will thank you!

You can find beautiful lakes to run along in St. Paul, too. The 1.67 miles around Lake Como are perfect for shorter, high-intensity workouts, or for those who are just starting to run. No matter how fast you go, the path is picturesque and peaceful. Bonus: you’ll be right by the Como Zoo and Conservatory for some post-run fun.

Check out one of St. Paul’s finest areas by jogging around Cathedral Hill. Here, you’ll catch a glimpse of elegant homes that line the city’s streets. Just be sure to stop at the St. Paul Cathedral to take in the gorgeous view of downtown. And if you’re jogging with a friend, there will be plenty of coffee shops and brunch spots at your disposal!

Break a sweat alongside the banks of the Mississippi River. These trails are perfect for long runs—they’re also a significant stretch of the Twin Cities Marathon—and are easily accessible by other paths in the Cities. On the this side of the river, you’ll have the serene beauty of flowing water and on the other, views of beautiful riverfront homes. Love foliage (also called “leaves”)? The West and East River Parkways both offer some of the most gorgeous views of changing treetops in the fall. Sign us up!

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