Mention Minnesota to someone who’s never been, and they’ll likely think cold, lakes and the movie Fargo. The truth is, Minnesota has splendid scenery and is one of the best outdoor recreation states in the U.S. People are highly active throughout the year, and the terrain varies from mountainous regions in the north to prairie land in the south. There’s fishing, biking, camping, and most importantly for this post, hiking. If you’re travelling to the state, or are looking for some great spots near home, take a look at our 7 best hiking trails in Minnesota:
1. 1. Superior Hiking Trail, Northeast Minnesota, 310 Miles
Following the rocky ridgeline above beautiful Lake Superior, this is the crown jewel of Minnesota hiking. You can access the trail from Jay Cooke State Park, Duluth, along Highway 61 and north of Grand Marais. Both day hikes and backpack camping are available, and you’ll see plenty of wildlife, forests and waterfalls throughout the area.
2. 2. Gooseberry Falls State Park, Northeast Minnesota, 20 Miles
Also located near Duluth, Gooseberry Falls is a prime spot for a day hike. You’ll hear the roar of falls through rocky gorges, hike through forests of evergreen, aspen and birch trees and see plenty of Northwoods wildlife. There are modernized campsites available as well. Gooseberry Falls is called the “Gateway to the North Shore” for good reason.
3. 3. St. Croix State Park, East-Central Minnesota, 127 Miles
Located close to Midwest Outdoor Resorts’ St. Croix River Resort, the St. Croix State Park has over 34,000 acres of hiking lands that include both the St. Croix and Kettle Rivers. The trails are relatively flat and mild, so you can take the entire family and enjoy a picnic, fish, or even climb a fire tower. Be sure to bring swim trunks as there is plenty of water for rafting, canoeing and swimming.
4. 4. Blue Mounds State Park, Southwest Minnesota, 13 Miles
Climb atop Eagle Rock for a stunning view of the prairie grasslands. You’ll see gorgeous vistas of swaying tallgrass, and the Park protects an American bison herd (be careful!). The park is great for birdwatching, as you’ll see nesting blue grosbeaks and many other species. The trails at Blue Mounds are easy to moderate, so feel free to take the whole family.
5. 5. Fort Snelling State Park, Twin Cities Area, 18 Miles
Choose between numerous trails that cut through woods and along both the Minnesota and Mississippi Rivers, and cross the footbridge onto Pike Island. You can hike along the beach if you choose the Mississippi River side, and you’ll see abundant wildlife such as deer, raccoons and fox. This is a great day hike, and you’ll be surprised you’re near a sprawling metropolis.
6. 6. Soo Line Trail, Central Minnesota, 106 Miles
Located near Lake Mille Lacs in Central Minnesota, the Soo Line Trail is a fantastic spot for hiking and backpack camping. Midwest Outdoor Resorts’ Soo Line Trail Campground is a perfect jumping-off point to explore from, and the views are awesome. You can also hike, bike, fish and boat around Lake Mille Lacs, which is the second-largest inland lake in Minnesota.
7. 7. George H. Crosby Manitou State Park, Northern Minnesota, 24 Miles
Waterfalls, volcanic canyons and enchanting forests await you at this north-country wilderness park. Beware that the trails here are steep and rugged, but they offer spectacular views. You may want to make sure you’re in good shape before taking a hiking trip here. Northern Minnesota wildlife like moose, bears and wolves abound, and Benson Lake has plenty of trout for avid fishermen. The secluded campsites are for backpackers only. This is not a trip for a novice hiker, but if you’re up for a Northwoods adventure, this is a great spot.
All-in-all, Minnesota offers some fantastic hiking in a great variety of terrains. If you feel we’ve missed out on some spots, feel free let us know in the comments below. Have a great hiking season, and as always, happy exploring!