Temperance River Trailhead
State Highway 61 and Temperance Road
Schroeder, MN 55613
In the Superior National Forest, one of the most popular spots for hiking in the country, is beautiful Carlton Peak. Those from mountainous regions of the country may laugh at the term “peak,” but upon reaching the summit, you truly do feel as though you’re in the mountains. The Temperance River Gorge shoots down below, nothing but the sky above stretches on forever and there is plenty of natural seating to take in the view or enjoy a picnic. It’s not a hike for beginners, but completely worth the trek just for that incredible view.
St. Croix Bluffs Regional Park
10191 St. Croix Trail S.
Hastings, MN 55033
Open all year (though you really have to see it in full bloom), the St. Croix Bluffs Regional Park offers trails along bluffs and river shoreline; up hills and down ravines; through forests and across grassland. It’s a slice of Minnesota’s finest wilderness and the stunning views are unmatched. Spend a day hiking along the many trails, or set up camp and spend the summer exploring every corner of the magnificently preserved park.
Crow-Hassan Park Reserve
12595 Park Drive
Rogers, MN 55374
Want to feel like the pioneers did as they crossed through Minnesota’s prairies? This park feels as though we were never here. The expansive park is great for a day hike or a horseback ride if you really want to feel like an early settler. Bring your dog along as well. It’s hard to imagine while walking through the quiet majesty of these plains that the skyscrapers of the Twin Cities are only a short drive away, but that’s the beauty of Minnesota.
Chippewa National Forest
200 Ash Ave. N.W.
Cass Lake, MN 56633
If you’re planning a backpack trip through this park, make sure you’re prepared: over 160 miles of hiking trails await you. That, along with 900 miles of river, three of Minnesota’s largest lakes and wilderness so pure you’ll forget all about your cell phone, car and other modern technologies (who needs that stuff when you’re surrounded by towering trees, crystal-clear waters and the melodic songs of animals all around you), make this one of the most special places in the state, and the country.
Savanna Portage State Park
55626 Lake Ave.
McGregor, MN 55760
History is alive and well at this state park. Walk where Minnesota’s first inhabitants walked, carrying heavy packs akin to the ones they might have carried. The Continental Divide Trail sends water both to the mighty Mississippi River and Lake Superior, making for a great water trip after your hike. Or take the trail high above the Divide and look over the lands sprawling for miles in front of you. The views are unending at this natural gem.
Adrian Schramm is a resident Saint Paul writer with a passion for all things local. Through his work with Saint Paul Almanac and Minneapolis Examiner at Examiner.com, as well as in the kitchens of bars and restaurants around town, he has discovered what truly makes the Twin Cities tick.