With as much natural beauty as Minnesota has, it is no surprise that many who live in the Land of 10,000 Lakes are nature lovers. But there’s not always time to explore the many parks, forests, and lakes – especially those that are especially big. Still, it’s nice to get outside. One great way to spend a day with your family during these upcoming months without exerting too much effort? Take one of these short, kid-friendly hikes! They’re only about a mile long, and they’re full of beauty.
1. Upper Bluffs Trail - Frontenac State Park
The Upper Bluffs Trail can be accessed from the paved trail starting in the parking lot at picturesque Frontenac State Park. The trail leads to In-Yan-Teopa, a limestone rock formation. You'll travel through dense, tree-covered areas with picturesque views of the lake. At 3/4-mile long, this trail is perfect for a family adventure!
2. Big Bog Boardwalk - Big Bog State Recreation Area
With the largest peat bog in the lower 48, Big Bog State Recreation Area, located near Waskish, is home to a unique landscape. Beginning at Ludlow Island, the Big Bog Boardwalk continues for 1 mile and gives visitors encounters with orchids, yellow-eyed grass, and carnivorous sundews and pitcher plants. You won’t regret taking the family for a hike at Big Bog!
3.Big Pond Loop - Northfield
Located in Northfield, Big Pond Loop is an easy hike for any family! With restored prairie land and forest, this .8-mile trail will give you an abundance of wildflower and wildlife views. The big pond is great for catching sight of ducks and geese, and you’re sure to see many bluebirds. Make sure to bring something to feed the ducks!
4. Loon Island Trail - Lake Shetek State Park
Lake Shetek State Park is a beautiful place for a quiet hike. One of our favorite trails is the one-mile Loon Island Trail. Beginning east of the boat launch and looping around Loon Island, this scenic trail is relatively flat. That makes this an easy hike for your next family outing. Along the shoreline of the lake, you may see white-tailed deer, fox and pelican, amongst other furry critters!
5. Caribou Falls Trail - Silver Bay
Way up in the North Country is scenic town of Silver Bay, home to the Caribou Falls Trail. Caribou Falls is truly a hidden gem nestled along the Superior Hiking Trail. To get to the trail, begin at the Caribou Falls State Wayside rest, which is just off of Highway 61. From there, take the 1/2-mile trail of ever so slight inclines and declines that give way to spectacular views of the 35-foot waterfall. At one mile roundtrip, this hike is great for a family day!
6. Minneopa Falls Trail - Minneopa State Park
Next time you’re in the Mankato area, make sure to stop at Minneopa State Park! For a quick, easy hike for the entire family, take the Minneopa Falls Trail. This trail begins from the parking lot on a paved surface before crossing a bridge over the upper portion of the stunning waterfall. From here, you can continue across the edge of a ravine to descend a limestone staircase to a dirt trail long the water’s edge. Continue to follow the dirt trail as it makes its way across the water to a beautiful pool.
7. Big Spring Falls - Banning State Park
If you’re up for a great hike in a beautiful location, head to Banning State Park. Here, you’ll be able to enjoying the gorgeous views of the Big Spring Falls. The gentle 3/4-mile trail to the falls will have you traveling through forest for a short distance before coming to the coursing Kettle River. This hike is great for all hiking levels, from small children to seasoned hikers. You won’t regret this quick hike on your next adventure outing.
8. Cascade River Lower Loop - Cascade River State Park
Cascade River State Park is easily one of the most beautiful spots in northern Minnesota! If you’re ever in the neighborhood, make sure you hop out of the car for this easy 1/2-mile loop from the parking lot. Your hike will be packed with breathtaking views of the Cascade River falls. To get there, you’ll cross through a forest and over the river all the while taking in the most glorious sights.
9. Long Prairie Trail - Comrey
There’s a reason Long Prairie Trail often makes our list of best hikes! This short one-mile hike is perfect for a family day. With a mix of history and awesome views, come see the Jeffers Petroglyphs on this 1/4-mile trail. Follow a grassy path and continuing through beautiful prairie flowers, and end back at the visitor center. Then, take the Short Prairie Trail approximately 1/4 miles to the petroglyphs for a look at Minnesota's early history.
10. Riverview Trail - John A. Latsch State Park
The stunning Riverview Trail is a 0.7-mile, lightly trafficked trail located near Mount Vernon Minnesota. This trail can be found in picturesque John A. Latsch State Park. On your journey, you may just catch sight of the park's wild residents. Coyotes, fox, and white-tailed deer call this state park home. If you’re feeling up for an adventure, climb to the top of Mount Charity, one of three bluffs that steamboat captains once used to navigate their way down the Mighty Mississippi. This kid-friendly hike will surely be a family favorite!
Minnesotans, do you know of any other kid-friendly hikes in Minnesota? Share them in the comments below!