Jun 2, 2024 - Things to Do

The best hikes in the Twin Cities region

An old iron bridge with tall grass and bushes in the foreground.

The Old Cedar Avenue bridge in Bloomington that juts out into the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge. Photo: Marlin Levison/Star Tribune via Getty Images

If you're looking to hit the trails without hitting cabin traffic, here are ideas from Axios Twin Cities readers about hikes within the metro area:

  • Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge, Bloomington — Max S. suggested a roughly 10-mile route between two big transit stops that wind through the scenic river bottoms. Just off Max's route is the Old Cedar Avenue Bridge, which officials reopened to trail traffic in 2016.
  • Wood-Rill Scientific and Natural Area, Long Lake — Just north of Wayzata, this "beautiful forested area with hills and valleys and ponds" is a mainstay for reader Kathy H.
  • Lebanon Hills Regional Park, Eagan — Val J. recommends the largest park in Dakota County's system, which features 20 miles of nature trails weaving through a collection of lakes and ponds.
  • Winchell Trail, Minneapolis — This route along the Mississippi River's western bank "has to be the most underrated. Hundreds of feet of elevation, views of the Mississippi, hidden waterfalls, beaches and trees galore," says Calvin M.
  • Elm Creek Park Reserve, Maple Grove — One of Beth W.'s favorite hiking destinations in the metro, it's the largest site in the Three Rivers Park District.
A photo of a forest with a thick canopy of green leaves
Nerstrand Big Woods State Park between Northfield and Faribault. Photo: Kyle Stokes/Axios

For hikers who don't mind busting out of their I-494/694 bubble, Axios readers had more suggestions:

A limestone arch with the sun shining through it in a forest surrounded by leaves
In Yan Teopa, a limestone arch in Frontenac State Park just east of Red Wing. Photo: Kyle Stokes/Axios
  • Frontenac State Park, Frontenac — Perched on a river bluff along the north end of Lake Pepin, the park features trails winding down the bluff to the water, fields of wildflowers and a limestone arch.
  • Devil's Kettle Falls, Magney State Park, Grand Marais — Jennifer L. said the hike to the waterfall that disappears into a mysterious hole in the rock "isn't for the faint of heart, but … being that it's so far up the shore, it's not as crowded as Tettegouche or Gooseberry."
  • Temperance River State Park, Schroeder — There are too many North Shore destinations to list here, but Duke S. offered this suggestion "if you want multiple waterfalls and photo highlights."
  • Sibley State Park, New London — "The hike up Mount Tom and back down is a bit on the rugged side," Jennifer L. added, "but the view — especially in the fall — is worth it."

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