Throughout Minnesota, hundreds of hiking trails loops through state parks and nature areas. There’s something for everyone, whether you prefer exploring thick forests or taking in wildflower fields. And lucky for Minnesotans, there are plenty of trails to explore no matter your experience or ability level. These 12 Minnesota hikes are all under 3 miles, and they’re all amazing.
1. Outer Hiking Trail - Springbrook Nature Center
Springbrook Nature Center in Fridley is a great way to spend an afternoon without straying too far from the metro area. The 127-acre park has 3 miles of trails that lead through woodland and wetland. The Outer Hiking Trail is just 1.5 miles. It runs along the perimeter of the park and it sure to give you a glimpse of the nature you crave.
2. Congdon Park Trail - Duluth
Along Duluth's lovely Tischer Creek, a 1.5 mile leads through beautiful scenery. The historic Glensheen mansion is nearby, so working in a hike would make for a great Duluth day trip.
3. Garvin Heights Park Trail - Winona
When the bluffs of southern Minnesota call, a visit to Garvin Heighs Park in Winona is an ideal way to answer. Pack your hiking shoes: the 1.5-mile trail leads up a steep incline. But when you get to the top, the aerial view of Winona cannot be beaten.
4. Jensen Lake Trail - Lebanon Hills Regional Park
The 2,000-acre Lebanon Hills Regional Park boasts many lakes and trails through the scenic Dakota County. Jensen Lake is just one of them. The 2.1-mile scenic trail around the lake will bring you the peace and quiet you deserve.
5. Saint Croix River Trail - Interstate State Park
With all the talk of Minnesota's 10,000 lakes, our many beautiful river views are sometimes forgotten. But the St. Croix River Trail at Interstate State Park will help you remember. This trail leads you along 2.5 miles of gorgeous riverfront, including thick forests and interesting rock formations.
6. Minnehaha Creek Trail - 1.9 miles
This trail is immensely popular, so you won't likely find a lot of peace and quiet here. But there's a reason it's so popular. Minnehaha Creek is truly beautiful, and it's hard to say no to a 53-foot waterfall. If you have an hour or two to hike a leisurely 1.9 miles, you could do worse than this trail.
7. Lake Maria Trail - Lake Maria State Park
Lake Maria State Park was made for those who love to hike. The park contains many wetlands, including ponds and small lakes. There, you may be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of the diverse wildlife that makes a home in the area. Among the many trails on offer here, the Lake Maria Trail may give you the best bang for your buck. At 1.8 miles, it's a good length for an afternoon stroll through Minnesota's beautiful landscape.
8. Battle Creek Trail - Indian Mounds Park
Did you know Minnesota has several
trails that lead to ancient ruins
? The Battle Creek Trail and indian Mounds is one of the most interesting. This trail through St. Paul's Indian Mounds Park brings you up close to 2,000-year-old burial mounds. At 2.9 miles, it's one of the longer trails on this list. But for the up-close view of ancient history, it's worth it.
9. Richardson Nature Center Trail - Hyland Lake Park Reserve
This 2.3-mile trail is noted for the beautiful wildlife hikers have a chance to see. Wildflowers bloom in warm months, and it's always possible to catch a glimpse of the coyotes, deer, or many bird species that make a home here.
10. Middle Road Trail - Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge
The Minnesota Valley Wildlife Refuge is a treasure trove of amazing nature scenes. Over 14,000 acres, guests can search for plant and animal species native to Minnesota. One of the most interesting parts of the refuge is the Louisville Swamp. The 1.5-mile Middle Road Trail Trail leads through part of the swam, giving visitors a good view of marsh, stream, and forest.
11. Lake Como Loop Trail - St. Paul
Here's another busy trail that many take on a warm summer day. Its popularity is owed in part to its location near the Como Park Zoo, but Lake Como is an attraction all its own. The 1.7-mile trail leads around the scenic lake, with plenty of places to stop to rest and enjoy the scenery.
12. Lake Carlos State Park Trail - Lake Carlos State Park
Lake Carlos State Park boasts a deep lake, forest scenes, and even a tamarack bog. If that sounds like something up your alley, why not give this little-known state park a whirl? A 2.8-mile trail will help you get your bearings in this little-known state park. Then, you can pitch a tent, drop a line, and bask in nature's beauty.
Have you ever hiked any of these trails? Let us know which ones you like best! If you’re looking for something just a bit longer, check out our list of
13 Minnesota hikes under 5 miles.