Whether you’re an avid hiker or you’re just wanting to get more exercise and see gorgeous scenery while you do it, Minnesota has you covered. Throughout the state, there are a mind-boggling amount of hiking trails; leading to all kinds of fun things to explore and outdoor beauty to gawk at.
If you’re new to the North Star State, or you’re just visiting for a few days, then you might not know all the best spots to trek. With so many options, I wouldn’t blame you. Thankfully, I’m here to share 14 of the best hiking trails in Minnesota!
Located near downtown Red Wing, Red Wing Riverfront Trail offers a short walk of only .5 miles to access the town’s incredible food and shops.
Followed by the attractions of downtown Red Wing, there is also a Park at Bay Point that leads to an area filled with benches in which the view can be admired that also leads to a path towards Levee Park.
A location where hikers can take advantage of adventurous trails is at Banning State Park into the Quarry Nature Trail which is located along the Wild and Scenic Kettle River that is one of the most common designated rivers within the state of Minnesota.
This specific route runs near the ruins of a sandstone quarry, which is a historic location for viewers to admire. The Kettle River is an attraction that is known for its bedrock and challenges that the boating rapids can bring.
Navigating further south brings natural attractions for one’s viewing pleasure and that makes Banning State Park one of the most attractive state parks within the state of Minnesota.
The river to St. Anthony Main is located at the Park of Boom island that offers a destination area for walking beside it. It contains a 1.8 mile distance which allows crossing from the river on the Stone Arch Bridge.
It is known to be one of the most beautiful walks into the city that follows a path to the Mill City Museum that is recommended to be toured in completion of your walk.
As one of the first options, the Silver Creek Trail located at Jay Cooke State Park serves as a major point for the southern section of the park’s hiking trail that brings an arduous journey for many folks seeking this particular opportunity.
As one of Minnesota’s finest landscapes, the St. Louis River makes this trail, among others, one of the most beautiful sights to wander across while walking through the Superior Hiking Trail. This hiking trail offers 50 continuous miles of beautiful scenery and opportunities.
As the views of the beautiful Silver Creek Trail continue across the St. Louis River, it begins to cross the CCC Swinging Bridge that allows hikers to take a 3.5 mile loop around the river. Between a few hikers, the scenery is so beautiful they enjoy doubling back by the river.
As one of the top State Parks in the state, Itasca State Park is located west of the Chippewa National Forest and offers the headwaters of the famous Mississippi River.
It is known to be one of the most popular states and offers many adventures at the lakes. These lakes are overlooking the growing forest and fire tower that can be climbed. This attraction has 49 miles of trails surrounding the area that can be followed through this state park.
Near the center of the park lies the Aiton Heights Fire Tower and is standing tall at 100 feet. Not only is the height an attraction but it is not too far from the Fire Tower parking area. Its location is only half a mile away. It’s recommended to start at the historic Douglas Lodge and make a three-mile loop that will allow hikers to wander through the Ozawindib and Deer Park trails.
The walk through these trails bring elevated hills, however, they are manageable and bring the reward of climbing up the 100-foot fire tower and the view that it brings.
Minnesota’s Interstate State Park is a great roadside attraction meant for those to participate in the beautiful view and explore the landmark’s features.
The history of Minnesota’s geology starts at Glacial Pothole Trail in Interstate State Park. As it rests next to the banks of the St. Croix River and the Highway 8 resting point, it is also close to the Wisconsin Interstate State Park that rests right across from the river.
It is known to be one of the most popular attractions to visit within Minnesota and is only a short half-mile from the Glacial Pothole Trail.
In order to receive a more glamorous view of the Split Rock Lighthouse, turning aside from the Superior Hiking trail would be the best option.
The Two Harbors shoreline trail has many features that make the North Shore of Lake Superior more enjoyable to view. Its attractive features include easy accessibility from the parking areas that are nearby and the Little Two Harbors Trails that expose viewers to the shorelines, the Ellingsen Island and the Lake Superior overview that make the landscape breathtaking.
The trail that leads down the shoreline is well known for its historic Split Rock Lighthouse that is resting at the lakeside cliffs. It is precisely three-quarters of a mile and the little Two Harbors Trail maintains a quick access to the other features that the Split Rock Lighthouse STate Park offers for visitors to attribute to.
The history Center located at the State Park also is a site for Hikers to stop at for additional shoreline trails and a guided trail for the Gitchi-Gami State Trail.
One of Minnesota’s most prideful hiking trails is the Superior Hiking Trail (SHT) that is surrounding the entire Lake Superior’s North Shore.
This pathway is known to be the state’s more breathtaking path that provides the viewers with open-water landscapes and magnificent captures of the Superior Shoreline. The detailed scenery along the path include pebble beaches, jutting cliff sides and ravines filled with forests that make the hike well worth it.
Over 260 miles from Duluth to the United States and Canadian border, the Superior Hiking Trail is alongside the shoreline that also exposes the rocky landscape of rippling waters, the views of waterfalls and the historical structures that are breathtaking.
While walking through the provided state parks within the state of Minnesota, the destinations of Split Rock Lighthouse and Tettegouche State Parks provide hikers and visitors with the visual captures of what beautiful pieces of nature look like.
The towns near the SHT such as, Silver Bay and Lutsen are recommended destinations to be prepared for a hike, sightseeing and restocking personal supplies. Trailheads are estimated to be along the SHT within every 10 miles and included campsites for those looking to stay overnight in a tent, backpack for the weekend or spend a trip hiking throughout the trails.
Within the beautiful state of Minnesota, the highest point to reach is called Eagle Point and is a popular point to reach when it is the summer seasons that bring warmer weather.
This point is one of the most popular attractions to visit by foot and has visitors standing at just over 2,300 feet and is located in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Standing this high at a certain point will bring visitors an altitude-induced head rush that is followed by a difficult 3.5-mile hike to get to the point.
The Eagle Mountain Trail is no walk in the park from the rocky and steep climbing that comes with it. It is not an often maintained trail, unlike other trails in the trail, this means that it may be more difficult than other trails to climb up.
However, through the difficulties this trail can be the view at the top of Eagle Point brings a sense of accomplishment and a wonderful view that can be enjoyed for hours. One of the views that can be admired would be surrounding the Superior National Forest.
One of the most attractive North Shore scenery would include the Gooseberry Falls attraction that includes the beautiful sounds and viewings of rushing waterfalls and breathtaking scenery.
This landmark is only six miles south of Split Rock Lighthouse State Park and is known to offer one of the most popular waterfalls that includes the Upper, Middle and Lower Falls that are on top of the Gooseberry River. These three popular waterfalls can be enjoyed from the ADA-Accessible Riverview Trail.
A trail that will lead hikers into a more adventurous and exclusive view is onto the Fifth Falls trail and those looking to view from a distance would be from the Riverview Trail and Gateway Plaza viewing area. Both of these areas allow those to see the breathtaking capture of these waterfalls.
In conclusion to seeing the waterfalls along the Riverview Trail, those who wish to can continue to follow the scenery by walking among the Hiking Trail for adventurous to take place under the stars. However, those looking for just a day trip can hop onto the Gitchi-Gami State Trail and ride their bicycles.
The northern part of the Superior National Forest is located within northeastern Minnesota and consists of over one million acres of landmark wilderness that includes hundreds of thousands of lakes, streams, islands and water attractions to view.
This landscape is bordered against the Quetico Provincial Park that is located in Canada towards the north and has Voyageurs National Park located to the east. The main attraction that has thousands of people following it is the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.
It contains more than 1,200 miles of routes for visitors to canoe and boat as the area’s main source of transportation. This landscape contains the majority of water and is surrounded by well known hiking trails, such as the Sioux-Hustler trail that provides hikers with a beautiful landscape made to be backpacked and camped out over the course of a few days.
Within less than an hour from Minnesota’s main cities, St. Paul and Minneapolis, there is a state Park by the name of Afton State Park and its popularity comes from the Twin Cities and their intuition for going forward into the nature surrounding them.
Afton State Park offers a variety of trails to wonder amongst, however, a recommended trail to start with would be the North River Trail. The landscapes that surround these trails would be the prairie valleys and its wide river banks. Within less than an hour from Minnesota’s main cities, St. Paul and Minneapolis, there is a state Park by the name of Afton State Park and its popularity comes from the Twin Cities and their intuition for going forward into the nature surrounding them.
Afton State Park offers a variety of trails to wonder amongst, however, a recommended trail to start with would be the North River Trail. The landscapes that surround these trails would be the prairie valleys and its wide river banks. The recommended North River Trail is parallel to the St. Croix River and is only a little over a mile away in distance and offers the overlook of the scenery that Minnesota offers.
There are several other trails that can be offered to follow from the North River Trail that includes the Prairie and Trout Brook Loops. Visiting these areas can add a few extra miles to one’s hike but is worth it in the end with exposing the prairie lands and the wooded ravines for those passing through to capture.
Exiting the Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport, only two miles east lies the Fort Snelling State Park that includes a quick intro into the nature and urban landscape that Minnesota has to offer.
Fort Snelling offers an environment based around trails to explore and the scenery of the rivers that take place surrounding it for those to view. The two trails of the Snelling Lake Trail and the Pike Island Trail present two- to three-mile loops on gravel that are perfect for those looking for a quick trail to walk along for their own personal pleasure. The Snelling Lake trail is more of a flat surfaced area that circles its body of water and has a view of the forests surrounding it.
It follows its name as Picnic Island because of its known location that attracts those looking for an extended lunch break getaway for those to enjoy. The Pike Island Trail is more a bigger island within the state park and has many visitors that enjoy visiting in order to explore the unfamiliar areas and are an easy trail to hike onto.
From New York to North Dakota, the North Country National Scenic Trail (NCT) connects those choosing the hike with a piece of engrossment across seven different states.
This trail exposes hikers historical views from the Green Mountains all the way to the Great Plains. The historical views that come with it include 10 different national forests, over a hundred natural spaces that are contributed to each of their states, a variety of camping locations and over 4,600 miles of stretched land that makes the National Scenic Trail one of the longest trails in the United States.
Within an estimated amount of eight months, hikers have attempted to make it through the hike of the NCT. The trail is more intriguing due to its several access points throughout the hike, which make it more worth it for hikers to come across throughout their journey.
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Born in Madelia, MN, to a now 5-generation Minnesota family, Ryan’s MN roots go deep.
A painter by day, Ryan founded Life in Minnesota in 2013 with his wife Kelly to chronicle their musings on everything Minnesota. Ryan and Kelly are raising their 7 kiddos in Maple Grove, MN.
When he’s not shuttling his kids around to hockey practice, you might find him in the shop working on his leatherwork. Undoubtedly, there will be a family trip to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area every summer, and of course weekends at Grandpa’s cabin up north in the summer.