While each of Minnesota’s 62 state parks is incredible, there is much more to see in our beautiful state. In every region of Minnesota, there are lesser known parks that wait to be discovered. Each boasts its own unique beauty, with paths, lakes, and wildlife galore. Here are 10 of Minnesota’s secret parks. Some may be a bit off the beaten path, but they’re all totally worth it. Which ones have you been to?
1. Tamarack Nature Center - White Bear Township
Sprawling across 320 acres in White Bear Township, this beautiful nature center is perfect for a day outdoors. In addition to trails that lead through a serene forest, there is also a play area where kids can learn about water and gardens, play in mud, and climb a cliff!
Address: 5287 Otter Lake Road, White Bear Township.
2. Battle Creek Regional Park - Maplewood and St. Paul
This park actually has two sections: one is in St. Paul, and the other is in Maplewood. Together, these sections are home to a surprising number of amenities. There are picnic areas for those looking to enjoy dining al fresco, a sledding hill for winter months, and even a small outdoor waterpark. No matter the season, there is something to do at this beautiful park. As an added bonus, there's a dog park if you want to treat the special pup in your life.
Address: Click here to find directions.
3. Alexander Ramsey Park - Redwood Falls
This secret park is the largest municipal park in Minnesota. Often called "Little Yellowstone," its 219 acres are full of beauty - just like the famous national park. Alexander Ramsey many historic shelters and bridges, four miles of hiking trails, and a zoo. But perhaps its most impressive draw? The picturesque waterfall that flows over cliffs in the park.
Address: 99 East Oak Street, Redwood Falls.
4. Hartley Nature Center - Duluth
Most visitors to Duluth visit Canal Park or the Congdon Estate. A few may venture up to Hawk Ridge.
But Hartley Nature Center is just as worth visiting as Duluth's more famous parks. Hartley Nature Center is located in the 660-acre Hartley Park. It features many hiking trails, educational programs, and up-close views of wildlife.
Address: 3001 Woodland Avenue, Duluth.
5. Quarry Park and Nature Preserve - Waite Park
Though it's popular among locals, this park isn't too well known in other parts of Minnesota. The 683-acre park has just about every kind of nature you can imagine: thick forests, jagged cliffs, and crystal-clear water. Popular activities include hiking, swimming, climbing, and even scuba diving. In the fall, the changing leaves make this park especially beautiful.
Address: 1802 County Road 137, Waite Park.
6. Garvin Heights Park - Winona
Great River Bluffs State Park is probably the most popular place to see Winona from above. But if you don't want to spend an entire day exploring a state park, Garvin Heights offers beautiful views as well. A 1.5-mile trail takes to the top of a Mississippi River bluff, where you will see incredible views for miles.
Address: Garvin Heights Road, Winona.
7. Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden and Bird Sanctuary - Minneapolis
There are so many parks in the Twin Cities that it is easy to overlook one or two. Located within the sprawling Theodore Wirth Regional Park, the Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden and Bird Sanctuary is a spot that you don't want to overlook. It is a serene nature area that is filled to the brim with colorful flowers. Those beautiful flowers draw many different types of critters, from butterflies to hummingbirds. Depending on the time of year, you have a chance to glimpse them all on a walk through the gardens.
Address: 1 Theodore Wirth Parkway, Minneapolis.
8. Hidden Falls Park - St. Paul
Minnehaha Falls rightfully gets a lot of attention, but there are other waterfalls in the Twin Cities. One is found at St. Paul's Hidden Falls Park. It may take you a few minutes to find it, but the walk along the park's 6 miles of trails will be well worth it for the quiet beauty found around each bend. Other than the gently trickling waterfall, other attractions include picnic areas, fire rings, and Mississippi River access.
Address: Mississippi River Boulevard, St. Paul.
9. Oxbow Park & Zollman Zoo - Byron
About five miles west of Rochester, Oxbow Park is an interesting spot that not may people know about. The park is great for fishing, hiking, and camping along the Zumbro River. Across its 620 acres, there are many picnic spots, scenic views, and even a large natural playground. Also attached to the park is the Zollman Zoo, where visitors can catch glimpses of eagles, owls, and other animals.
Address: 5731 County Road 105 Northwest, Byron.
10. Carpenter Nature Center - Hastings
The Carpenter Nature Center is a sprawling region of the St. Croix River Valley. It is actually located across both Minnesota and Wisconsin, with many miles of trails on both sides. There are many opportunities to see animals like toads, falcons, and snakes that live in the park. There is even an apple orchard! It grows 13 varieties of apples which you can buy in the park. No matter the season, there is something to do at this stunning secret park.
Address: 12805 St. Croix Trail South, Hastings.
Do you have any other favorite secret parks in Minnesota? Let us know in the comments!
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