Minnesota Hiking, Nature December 13, 2016
11 Picturesque Trails In Minnesota That Are Perfect For Winter Hiking
Most people recognize that Minnesota is an outdoorsy state. With dozens of state parks and campgrounds – not to mention our 10,000 lakes – we try to spend as much time outdoors as possible in warmer months. But what some people don’t realize is that we extend that love of Mother Nature into the winter months. A little snow doesn’t stop a Minnesotan from enjoy the best our state has to offer. These picturesque Minnesota trails are perfect examples of what we have to look forward to once snow falls – and they’re also perfect for winter hiking.
1. River Trail - Wild River State Park
This hike is perfect for those of us who don't want to spend
too long out in the cold. The trail is 1.5 miles long and goes alongside the beautiful St. Croix River. The icy water is a beautiful sight with Wisconsin's snow-capped trees in view on the eastern bank.
2. North Shore State Trail
The North Shore State Trail is 146 miles long, but that doesn't mean you have to hike all of it. But if you're interested in winter hiking, there's no better way to see Lake Superior than along this trail. You'll pass through serene forests and get outstanding glimpses of Minnesota's crown jewel when its waters are frozen.
3. Upper Falls Trail - Gooseberry Falls State Park
Did you know you can see Gooseberry Falls when it's frozen during the winter? Even better, it's actually a pretty quick hike. The Upper Falls Trail is only half a mile from the parking lot to the scenic view atop the North Shore's most iconic waterfall.
4. North Country Trail - Itasca State Park
The North Country Trail is thousands of miles long, so you
probably aren't going to hike it from start to finish anytime soon. But this winter at Itasca State Park, several guided hikes through the park's portion of the trail will help you glimpse the Minnesota winter like you haven't seen it. In February, the Owl Hooting Snowshoe Hike allows you to explore at dusk!
5. Hegman Lake Trail - Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wildernss
Have you ever heard of the Hegman Lake pictographs? A relatively short hike on the Hegman Lake Trail will take you to a group of well-preserved Native American pictographs of unknown age. The hike is just under two miles from parking lot to pictograph, so it's a quick trek for a close glimpse of history.
6. Thompson Trail - Jay Cooke State Park
When you arrive at Jay Cooke State Park, head over to the Thompson Trail for a moderate hike through some of Minnesota's most beautiful wilderness. Don't forget to make a stop at the famous swinging bridge. The iconic crossing is even more stunning under a blanket of snow.
7. High Falls Trail - Grand Portage State Park
Grand Portage State Park maintains 3.5 miles of hiking trails in the winter. You can also snowshoe a half-mile trail to see the High Falls of the Pigeon River. The sight of the 120-foot frozen waterfall - the tallest in Minnesota - is definitely worth the effort.
8. Quarry Loop Trail - Banning State Park
In winter, the entirety of Banning State Park is accessible by sturdy boot or snowshoe. The Quarry Loop Trail takes you alongside the Kettle River, where you can see the beautiful Blueberry Slide or Dragon's Tooth during the winter freeze. But do be careful. The many cliffs along the river will be slippery.
9. Pike Island - Fort Snelling
If you want to hike without heading way up north, Fort Snelling State Park has several miles of trails for winter use. The three miles of maintained trails on Pike Island may just be the most peaceful place you'll find this close to the city.
10. High Falls Trail - Tettegouche State Park
The High Falls of the Baptism River don't stop being beautiful just because it's cold outside. Actually, they may even be more beautiful under a blanket of snow and with the peaceful silence that accompanies winter. The High Falls Trail is a moderate trail that leads right to the beautiful frozen falls. At three miles round-trip over moderate terrain, it will get your blood flowing enough to keep you warm.
11. River Trail - Flandrau State Park
Flandrau is a lesser-known state park in New Ulm, but it is very beautiful under a fresh blanket of snow. The River Trail is short, but you can easily expand it by taking a left fork along the Old Dam Trail, or a right to do the Old Island Loop. No matter what, you'll be struck with some of the most gorgeous views in New Ulm.
Minnesota is so beautiful that it’s a shame to stay inside during the winter. If you’re interested in more outdoor nature activities to do this winter, check out this list of
gorgeous frozen waterfalls in Minnesota.