One of the best ways to escape the business busy-ness and the stress of day-to-day life is to get outside and get into nature. And one of the cheapest and easiest ways to recharge and breakaway is simple: walking and hiking.
All you will need is a comfy pair of shoes.
Lucky for us, Minnesota has endless hidden paths and trails tucked away right here in the in the heart of the cities, so you don’t always need to pack up and plan an extensive trip to the Boundary Waters. Lace up and head out the door to explore these beautiful trails.
Lebanon Hills Regional Park
With nearly 2,000 acres and almost 20 miles of nature paths scattered throughout the park, you’ll have no trouble discovering new paths to hike. The park is actively restoring over 1,100 acres of prairie and forest for you to explore, but you can start out at the Holland Lake Trailhead following more than 12 miles of wooded trails that will provide you with a picturesque view of Holland Lake. Or, choose to start at the Jensen Lake Trailhead and hike through miles of shaded and peaceful woods.
Minnehaha Regional Park
You can stay in Minnehaha Park and explore the paths around the stunning cascading 53 foot falls or hike the Minnehaha Trail that ends in St. Paul at Fort Snelling State Park. Inside Minnehaha Park you can view the beautiful limestone bluffs and wander the paths leading to scenic river overlooks. Then, if you’re feeling ambitious, you can head out on the 5 mile Minnehaha Trail that follows a wooded corridor along the bluffs overlooking the Mississippi River which will end in Fort Snelling State Park connecting to Snelling Lake Trail.
The Winchell Trail is hiking-only making it a perfect trail to trek without having to watch out for bikers or rollerbladers. The trail is 5 miles roundtrip that passes along the Mississippi River bluffs on the west bank running from 44th Street to Franklin Avenue with several unpaved paths breaking off the main trail. While the trail can be rugged in some spots, you’ll pass through the oak savanna restoration project, hike through woods, and enjoy the soft white sand beach along the path.
Hidden Falls Regional Park
Located right in St. Paul along the Mississippi River bluffs, Hidden Falls is great for an easy afternoon walk. You won’t have to take hours out of your day, since this smaller park only boasts around 7 miles of paved trails. Wander through the woods or walk the paths along the Mississippi River passing by open grassy areas and scenic picnic spots.
Theodore Wirth Park
With over 700 acres, Theodore Wirth Park is packed with 20 miles of twisting and winding paths through forests, marshes, and open prairies. There are endless loops and turns you can take making each hike a new adventure. You can choose between the paved paths or go off road into the maze-like trails where you’ll be sure to encounter animal sightings like deer and foxes. Also be sure to explore the Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden, the Quaking Bog, and Bird Sanctuary right in Theodore Wirth Park.
Bonus Walking Trail:
Stone Arch Bridge, Mill Ruins Park, & Father Hennepin Bluff Park
While you won’t lose yourself in deep wooded forests walking the paths around the Stone Arch Bridge, you can still catch glimpses of wildlife, enjoy scenic views of the Mississippi River, and step into the past exploring the historic ruins of Mill Ruins Park and grassy areas and trails in Father Hennepin Bluff Park. And because these paved trails are right in the heart of Minneapolis, you can take a walk and then stop for lunch at one of the many great restaurants right along St. Anthony Main.
Read this next: Top 10 Parks In (and Around) the Twin Cities