While Minnesota is the perfect place to enjoy water activities, it’s still a bit chilly for swimming or beach lounging. But hiking is the perfect activity for the springtime, especially in Minnesota. Our state is crisscrossed with great trails, many of them ending with a beautiful sight. If you’re planning your next spring adventure, why not try out one of these 11 easy and beautiful spring hikes?
1. Oberg Mountain Loop
This two and a quarter mile trail has unforgettable views of Lake Superior, Oberg Lake, and Moose Mountain. The elevation gain on this trail is accessible for most people, making it a nice hike for outdoorsy families. It spans 2.6 miles through northern Minnesota forest, each turn offering more beauty than the last.
2. Cascade River Lower Loop at Cascade River State Park
This easy half mile loop from the parking lot is packed with amazing views of the Cascade River falls! You'l cross through forest and over the river to get there, and each view is simply stunning. There just isn’t a bad view anywhere in this park. For the more adventurous hikers, offers 18 total miles of hiking trails. Why not try them all this spring?
3. Prairie Loop at Afton State Park
Afton State Park is home to the Priarie Loop Trail, and a total of twenty miles of hiking trails. The prairie loop trail is a short and sweet hike and in the spring is filled with beautiful buds, blooms and birds. Go late enough in the spring, and you might even see butterflies fluttering around the new wildflowers. All in all, this 3-mile loop trail is perfect in the springtime.
4. Cliffline Trail at Blue Mounds State Park
A hike on the edge of a quartzite cliff is in store for those wanting to see the beautiful prairie flowers! Distant views of rolling prairie dotted with windmills is also on the agenda for anyone hiking this trail. Take the trail all the way around and you’ll likely spot the resident herd of bison! Then, head to the foot of the cliffs to see the beautiful quartzite up close.
5. Aiton Heights Trail at Itasca State Park
Found in Itasca State Park, this quick hike is about a mile in length. Once you reach the end of the trail, you’ll find the Aiton Fire tower. If you dare, climb the 136 steps to the top for sweeping views of beautiful Lake Itasca and the surrounding landscape. Because the trees will likely be bare in the springtime, you'll be able to see for miles around.
6. Big Spring Falls at Banning State Park
Banning State Park offers over 15 miles of great hiking trails for both beginners and seasoned trekkers alike. If you're looking for something a little more gentle, take the easy 3/4-mile Big Spring Falls Trail. You'll travel through the forest for a short distance before coming to the rushing Kettle River. The sight of it tumbling over the sandstone is nothing short of breathtaking.
7. Caribou Falls Trail
This little-known trail will deliver a big surprise! The 3/4-mile hike from the parking lot of the Caribou Falls State Wayside leads to gorgeous views of the 35-foot high Caribou Falls. You'll find the wayside along Highway 61 on the North Shore. Because of its lesser known location - not to mention the often unpredictable spring weather - you'll find a peaceful oasis in the woods if you visit this season.
8. Goldenrod Trail at Tamarack Nature Center
Located at the Tamarack Natire Center, this easy 2.8-mile trail loops through lush grasslands and -
later in the season -
beautiful flowers. This hike is perfect for a family day, and the nature center offers plenty of other fun activities for all ages.
9. Loop Trail at Nerstrand Big Woods State Park
This next trail isn't the shortest, but it's definitely worth visiting in the spring! Within an hour of the Twin Cities lies Nerstrand Big Woods State Park with its 11 miles of hiking trails. About 8 of those miles are along the Loop Trail, which leads hikers to a gorgeous waterfall. This park has nearly every kind of woodland bloom and a large identification guide to help you sort them. There is a lot to do at this pretty state park - even in the springtime!
10. Long Prairie Trail at Jeffers Petroglyphs
Take the one-mile trail to view the historic Jeffers Petroglyphs in Comfrey, Minnesota. Along the way, the waving prairie opens up to an outcrop of pink quartzite riddled with ancient carvings that tell the early history of Minnesota. This quick but fascinating hike is sure to be as much fun as it is educational.
12. Dakota Trail at Whitewater State Park
In May when spring is in full swing, this park is sure to be packed! Located in Minnesota's bluff country, this park draws fishermen and bird lovers alike. And because of its beautiful views, it also draws avid hikers. One of the best hikes is the Dakota Trail, a 3.9-mile trek through the woods. It passes alongside the Whitewater River, offering gorgeous water and cliff views.
Would you add any spring hikes to the list? Share your favorites in the comments below!