As Minnesota reaches peak fall color season, you may be thinking of ways to get out and enjoy the colors. If you’ve already done a
fall foliage road trip, the next step may be to get out of the car and see the leaves up close. Each of these trails is less than 5 miles, and each one leads to a spectacular view overflowing with autumn beauty. If you’re looking for some easy fall hikes, these are a great place to start.
1. Minneopa Falls - Mankato
From the main parking area at Minneopa Falls State Park, the waterfall is only a .6-mile walk. The walk, surrounded by thick trees in every direction, is full of stunning fall colors. It leads to a long stone bridge that overlooks the beautiful Minneopa Falls. If you want to extend your trip a bit, you can walk down about 70 stairs to the lower falls area.
2. Twin Lake Trail - McGregor
This trail in northern Minnesota's Rice Lake National Wildlife Refuge is not to be missed. Clocking in at .75 miles, it's a short walk that rounds a lake and passes through mixed forest that are sure to bring interesting colors. There are many other trails at the refuge, too, as well as opportunities to see any of the wildlife in the area.
3. Barn Bluff Trail - Red Wing
This 1.7-mile trail is a classic for a reason. In scenic Red Wing, a climb up the historic Barn Bluff comes with amazing fall foliage views of the surrounding are. You'll gaze out over the forest for a fantastic view of the Mississippi River. In the distance, Wisconsin's equally beautiful fall colors are on display.
4. Ironwood Trail - Pelican Rapids
Maplewood State Park is home to eight lakes, many more ponds, and rolling hills covered in trees. It is those hills that make it such a great place to visit in the fall. Many hiking trails wind through the park's 10,279 acres, but the Ironwood Trail is one of the shortest. At .7 miles, it's perfect for a quick stroll through the vibrantly colored woods.
5. Main Falls Trail - Two Harbors
As one of Minnesota's most popular state parks, it's hard to leave Gooseberry Falls out of a list of the best fall hikes. Already beautiful in the summer, Gooseberry Falls takes on an even more beautiful look as the fall colors start coming in. There are many miles of hiking trails, but if you have to choose one must-see trail, take the Main Falls Trail. This wheelchair accessible trail is only a mile from the visitor center, and it allows you to see both the waterfall and the fall colors.
6. Hyland Lake Loop - Bloomington
You might not think a park in the Twin Cities metro area could have such magnificent fall foliage, but there are plenty of great parks in the area. One of the most beautiful is Bloomington's Hyland Lake Park Reserve, where the hilly expanse offers beauty every month of the year. The Hyland Lake Loop is two miles long and passes alongside marshes, hills, and colorful trees.
7. Prairie Loop Trail - Hastings
The Prairie Loop Trail at Afton State Park is a 3-mile loop trail across some of southeastern Minnesota's most beautiful landscape. The hilly state park is great climbing high to gaze down at the leaves in the valleys below. You'll also find valleys, small lakes, and vibrant trees.
8. Oberg Trail - Tofte
As part of the Superior National Forest, it's no wonder the Oberg Trail is a fantastic fall hike. It crosses 2.2 miles of Minnesota's most beautiful forested landscape, climbing high over it for a truly remarkable view. The Oberg Mountain rises 1,000 feet above Lake Superior, but don't let the height fool you. It's a relatively easy hike with many scenic overlooks to help you take in the landscape.
9. Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden - Minneapolis
If you've been to the Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden in summer or spring, you know this spot is truly a gem of Minneapolis. But in the fall, it takes on an altogether different type of beauty. The bright greens of summer change to the vibrant oranges and yellows of fall, and the season's wildflowers start to bloom. The trail is only .75 miles in length, making perfect for an autumn afternoon.
10. Devil's Kettle Trail - Grand Marais
Judge C.R. Magney State Park is most known for Devil's Kettl, the
that seems to disappear into the earth. But the fall colors are also worth making the drive to see. Luckily, you can do both by hiking the Devil's Kettle Trail. At the end of the 2-mile trail through Minnesota's beautiful northern forest, you'll see the Kettle decked out in vivid fall colors. It's definitely worth a visit, but be aware that there are a lot of stairs.
11. Quarry Loop Trail - Sandstone
Banning State Park is not one of Minnesota's most popular state parks, but it sure is one of the most beautiful. In it, the Quarry Loop Trail follows the path of the Kettle River as it rushes downstream. On either side of the river - and the trail - are spectacular fall colors that you don't want to miss. The trail is about 1.6 miles long, and it also passes a fascinating abandoned sandstone quarry.