Did you know that Minnesota has 67 state parks? That doesn’t even count our national park, recreation areas, state trails, or national and state forests. Needless to say, Minnesotans have a whole lot of outdoors to discover. And the best way to experience the outdoors? By taking a hike. At less than 5 miles each, these 10 easy hiking trails are a perfect way to see Minnesota without going too far off the beaten path.
1. Barrier Falls Overlook Trail - 2 miles
Located a few miles off of Highway 61 near Grand Marais, this trail follows the path of the Devil Track River. A hike along the trail will let you catch a glimpse of the biggest gorge in Minnesota. You'll walk through thick stands of birch and pine and, after walking a mile, arrive at Barrier Falls Outlook. Here, you'll spot Barrier Falls and see the Devil Track River cut its way through the gorge.
2. Upper Cliffline Trail at Blue Mounds State Park - 4 miles
The Upper Cliffline Trail at Blue Mounds State Park offers gorgeous views of the pink quartzite cliffs that the park is known for. Visitors will also enjoy a panoramic view of the last of Minnesota's prairie. It should definitely be at the top of any hiking bucket list.
3. High Falls Trail at Grand Portage State Park - 1 mile
You won't regret this short hike along the Pigeon River, especially when you get to the end of the trail. You'll hear the thundering high falls of the Pigeon River long before you see it. At the end of the trail, you'll have the option of ascending 40 steps to see the falls from the upper viewing platform, or of staying put below. Either way, this easy hike is more than worth the trip to Grand Portage.
4. Tettegouche Lake Overlook Trail - 1.7 miles
This trail in Tettegouche State Park travels just under a mile through dense forest to end at a scenic view of Lake Tettegouche from above. The area is home to an abundance of rocks that are rare on earth but commonly found on the moon! Also, be warned - the steep overlook does not have a guardrail.
5. Oberg Mountain Loop - 4.3 miles
When you get to the top of this trail, you'll be reminded of just how much forest Minnesota has. The loop winds up Oberg Mountain to offer a great view of Lake Superior, Leveaux Mountain, and Carlton Peak - not to mention Superior National Forest. The gradual ascent of this hike makes it ideal for those not interested in strenuous climbing. With plenty of scenic overlooks along the loop, you'll want to have your camera ready.
6. Dr. Roberts Trail in Itasca State Park - 2 miles
This trail in Itasca State Park is a great place to take an easy hike through nature. The trail passes by an interesting bog, and lady slippers often bloom along the trail's edge. A great view of Lake Itasca rounds out this 2-mile adventure.
7. River Trail in Wild River State Park - 1.5 miles
Wild River State Park in Center City is home to 30 miles of hiking trails, including 14 miles of easy trails for beginners. One of those trails is the River Trail, which travels 1.5 miles through the forest alongside the St. Croix River and features an overlook of Nevers Dam.
8. Gooseberry River Loop in Gooseberry Falls State Park - 1.2 miles
This short trail is very popular - for good reason. You'll pass through birch forest along the Gooseberry River until you reach the dramatic conclusion: a breathtaking view of the upper falls of the Gooseberry River. This hike is a Minnesota classic and is definitely worthy of your bucket list.
9. Congdon Park Trail - 1.3 miles
This trail offers a feeling of isolation even in the middle of Duluth. You'll use a series of wooden bridges to travel this trail along Tischer Creek. This little trail even boasts great views of the creek's small waterfalls. It's a definite must-do for nature lovers who visit Duluth.
10. King's Bluff Trail in Great Bluffs State Park - 3.6 miles
Wow, this places doesn't even look like Minnesota. But it is. The King's Bluff Trail will take you high above the Mississippi River in Winona. The sweeping view also encompasses the delta of Wisconsin's Black River, endless trees and river channels, and an impressive view of the nearby Queen's Bluff. All that in only 3.6 miles of easy hiking? Definite bucket list material.
Have you hiked any of these trails? Are you itching for even more great Minnesota hiking trails? Check out our previous article of
16 amazing hiking spots in Minnesota for more.