With expansive outdoor destinations minutes from Twin Cities, backpacking is easy in Minnesota. But if you don’t want to backpack for a vigorous hike, just pack a picnic lunch and stroll to a state park picnic area. A walk along these trails, which pass through forests and parks, is invigorating. You reconnect with nature and connect with fellow hikers.
National Parks, Hiking, Vacations, Summer Vacation
Fitz Loven Park
7877 Ridge Road
Lake Shore, MN 56468
(218) 825-0410
www.visitbrainerd.com

Fitz Loven Park is always open for outdoor activities: hiking, snowshoeing and cross country skiing. Both wilderness and a man-made nature sanctuary, the park has hiking trails, a picnic pavilion, a playground and restrooms. The park is named after the late Fritz Loven, a Minnesotan who developed the 80-acre property he once owned.Visitors can stroll through a canopy of balsam, conifers, Norway pines, fir and black and white spruce trees. The hiking trail surrounds a small trout pond. Camping isn’t allowed. But if you want to go trout fishing, contact the City of Lake Shore first.

Afton State Park
6959 Peller Avenue S.
Hastings, MN 55033
(651) 436-5391
www.dnr.state.mn.us

Afton State Park takes its name from Afton Water, a poem the 18th-century Scottish poet Robert Burns composed. Full of surrounding bluffs and deep secluded ravines, hikers can explore the Saint Croix River and rolling prairies. Trails along the Saint Croix are lush with basswoods and silver maples. Hikers can capture the beauty of the river as they go, or take a break to soak their feet and take in the nature and beautiful scenery around them. The main attractions are a beach for warm weather swimming, bird watching and plenty of prairies and trees.

Summer's Essential Bucket List
Minnehaha Trail
4801 S. Minnehaha Park Drive
Minneapolis, MN 55417
(612) 230-6400
www.traillink.com

Wherever your dog likes to roam, that’s where you should go. The Minnehaha trail follows the course of the Mississippi River through a rich corridor of wooded and open areas. For something more venturesome, hike along the bike trail towards Minnehaha Creek near Minneapolis, a canoeing paradise. You can travel Minnehaha Creek by trail or canoe to Lake Harriet.

Related:< Best Dog-Friendly Hiking Trails In Minnesota

Minnesota Valley State Trail
19825 Park Blvd.
Jordan, MN 55352
(651) 259-5774
www.dnr.state.mn.us

The Minnesota State Trail is part of the Minnesota Valley State Recreation Area. Minutes from Twin Cities, this multi-use state trail has a diverse landscape of wetlands, savanna oak bluffs and floodplain forests. Extending roughly from Shakopee to Belle Plaine through Chaska, the trail leads to the Mississippi River. As you go, be sure to keep an eye out for the varied birds and wildlife that inhabit the area.

Family Trail Hiking
Cut Foot Sioux Trail
1037 Division St.
Deer River, MN 56636
(218) 246-3474
www.alltrails.com

This trail is wonderful for bird watching and wildlife observation. Operated by the USDA Forest Service, Cut Foot Sioux Trail runs through the Chippewa National Forest. Although lush with foliage and flush with greenery during the warm months, the trail does not lead to any water source, so hikers should be sure to bring their own canteens. The trail has a vigorous 18-mile loop that horseback riders also use. If you want a break from hiking and need a drink of water, retreat back to Deer River.

Related: Best Hiking Trails In The Twin Cities

Linda Cameron has written home design, home improvement and lifestyle articles for The Boston Globe and City Shopper Magazine. She has related interests in the building industry, travel, real estate and financing. She is a contributor to Examiner, House Spot, Techsling and Behance, covering topics on career, people, businesses, education and technology.

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