In a state as diverse and beautiful as Minnesota, it should come as no surprise that there are some truly beautiful hiking trails worth discovering. While many of Minnesota’s State Parks and natural areas are closed to the public during the global COVID-19 pandemic, now is a great time to plan out the hikes you’re going to take when these public spaces do open again this summer and fall.
Hiking is one of the best ways to immerse yourself in Minnesota’s beauty and enjoy those sought-after vistas. Whether you plan to visit northern, central, or southern Minnesota, there are plenty of great hiking trails to add to your list. And, when it comes to lodging, there are plenty of great properties to choose from as well. Browse through our unique collection of Minnesota Bed and Breakfasts, and start planning your escape into nature today.
The Best Hiking Trails in Minnesota
Minnesota is the land of 10,000 lakes, but it’s also so much more than that. With landscapes that range from beautiful lakes and stunning shorelines to old-growth forests, river valleys, and prairies, Minnesota is a land of many surprises. Whether you’re short on time or have weeks at your disposal to explore even the farthest reaches of the state, Minnesota’s top hiking trails will certainly not disappoint.
Here are 10 of our favorite hiking trails in Minnesota. We’ve listed them by region so you can easily find the corresponding lodging in the same area and to make your planning that much easier.
Northwest Minnesota is where you’ll find popular recreation areas like Walker, Leech Lake, and Lake Itasca. The best hiking trails in these areas are:
- The North Country National Scenic Trail is a cross-country trail that stretches 4,600 miles from New York to North Dakota. Portions of it travel through much of northern Minnesota, including the Chippewa National Forest and Itasca State Park near Walker, Minnesota. It also travels through Duluth, connecting with the Superior Hiking Trail and Jay Cook State Park in northeastern Minnesota.
- Visit Itasca State Park, and hike the Ozawindib Trail and the Aiton Heights Fire Tower Trail, which offers a 100-foot-tall view over the Lake Itasca watershed. It’s an incredible place to take in sunrise and sunset, too.
In Northeast Minnesota, you’ll find the popular outdoor recreation Mecca of Duluth, and the North Shore of Lake Superior. Great hiking trails in this area include:
- Superior Hiking Trail, easily the best hiking trail in the state of Minnesota, offers breathtaking views of Lake Superior and the forested hillsides that rise above it. The trail stretches for a mind-blowing 300 miles from Duluth north, to the US/Canadian border. Explore all or parts of the trail, and you won’t be disappointed.
- Take a short walk down the Little Two Harbors Trail in Split Rock Lighthouse State Park, and you’ll find yourself taking in a stunning view of Split Rock Lighthouse atop its cliff, all while appreciating the vastness of Lake Superior stretching out at your feet.
- Hike the Grand Portage Trail or the Silver Creek Trail, both of which lie in Jay Cooke State Park near Duluth. Both trails offer beautiful views of the St. Louis River and the rugged geography of this incredible park. There are more than 50 miles of hiking trails to enjoy within Jay Cooke State Park and numerous connections that extend even further.
- Another great place to hike on the North Shore is Gooseberry Falls State Park. The park has five waterfalls and 18 miles of trails, and plenty of scenic natural beauty.
In central Minnesota, you’ll find towns like St.Cloud and Brainerd, and plenty of beautiful areas to hike. Our favorites include:
- The Northland Arboretum in Brainerd offers 12 miles of trails, which meander through savannah, marsh, and prairie.
- The Mt. Tom Trail in Sibley State Park offers visitors a 360-degree panoramic view of the area below.
- Quarry Park and Nature Preserve in St. Cloud encompasses 683 acres of woodlands, prairie, wetlands, and unquarried bedrock areas. It’s a beautiful place to hike.
You don’t have to leave the urban center of Minnesota to find great hikes! Here are our favorites near the Twin Cities and surrounding areas:
- The Glacial Potholes Trail along the St.Croix River in Minnesota’s Interstate State Park is a beautiful and unique place to explore. The glacial potholes that give this trail its name are smooth rock indentations created by melting glaciers thousands of years ago. There are over 400 of these in the area. One of them, the Bottomless Pit, is at least 60 feet deep!
- North River Trail in Afton State Park travels along the St. Croix River, offering beautiful views and natural prairie.
- Within twin cities, hikers love the pathways around the Chain of Lakes Park, along the Mississippi River Trail in St. Paul, and any of the segments of the Grand Rounds Trail.
- Enjoy 36 miles of trails in the Carver Park Reserve, or the Elm Creek system, which offers more than 50 miles of hiking trails.
- Fort Snelling State Park in St. Paul also offers 18 miles of hiking trails, including a trail to Pike Island.
- Don’t miss your chance to walk through Minnehaha Regional Park, home to the famous 53-foot Minnehaha Falls.
Southern Minnesota, home to great towns like Lanesboro, Winona, Red Wing, and others, provides a completely different landscape than northern Minnesota. Here are a few great hiking suggestions:
- There are more than 85 miles of paved trails in Rochester including lakeside loops and downtown River walks. The Quarry Hill Nature Center is a great place to enjoy a hike, which offers 300 acres of land to explore, filled with peaceful prairies and man-made caves.
- Hike to Barn Bluff in the quaint town of Red Wing, and enjoy the dramatic views from atop the bluff. From there, you can watch barges travel the river, as eagles soar high overhead.
- Head to Frontenac State Park, where the Mississippi River widens into Lake Pepin. The park has over 14 miles of trails, including portions that travel along the edge of a cliff, giving breathtaking views of the river below. One of the best trails in the park is In-Yan-Teopa.
- Near Winona, hikers won’t want to miss Great River Bluffs State Park, which offers 6 miles of trails and beautiful vistas from the top of 500-foot cliffs.
The Best Lodging in Minnesota
As you can see, there are a number of incredible hiking trails everywhere you go in Minnesota. The first step is choosing which part of this state to explore first, and the next is to book a room at one of our unique bed and breakfasts. You won’t find lodging that offers the same mix of comfort, amenities, and hospitality anywhere else. Book your room at one of our Minnesota Bed and Breakfasts today!