With so many fabulous parks and reserves within our great state, plus beautiful waterways to walk along, it’s nearly impossible to narrow down just five great places to take your dog on a stroll. So here is a sampling of trail ideas with a little bit for everyone – the urbanite, the nature lover, the hardcore hiker and the leisurely walker.
Lake Elmo Park Reserve
1515 Keats Ave. N.
Lake Elmo, MN 55042
The Lake Elmo Park Reserve offers 2,165 acres (that’s 3.5 square miles) of beautiful landscape just waiting to be explored by you and your dog. Meander on the paved areas or trek the 20 miles of hiking trails throughout the park, all clearly listed with their distances and difficulty upon entering. You may come across one of two lakes, 25 different types of mammals, wetlands, wildflowers and plenty of other gorgeous sites on your journey. You’ll need to buy a Washington County Parks vehicle permit upon entering the park and remember to keep your pup leashed during your visit.
Luce Line State Trail
1200 Warner Road
St. Paul, MN 55106
The Luce Line State Trail is built along a former railroad grade and runs from the suburb of Plymouth in the west metro through nearly 77 miles of glorious trails to the tiny town of Cosmos in the west-central part of Minnesota. You can pick the Luce Line up at any point through four of our state’s counties to partake in the great scenery and wildlife along limestone and natural surface trails. There is even a recently added offshoot of paved trails from Plymouth toward Minneapolis that ends near Bryn Mawr Meadows Park and 394 (formerly Bassett’s Creek Trail). No matter where you pick the Luce Line up at, your four-legged friends are sure to love the easy and scenic walk.
3000 Calhoun Parkway
Minneapolis, MN 55408
Enjoy the 3.1 miles of easy strolling along handsome houses and lakeside breezes at Minneapolis’ Lake Calhoun. This path can be crowded, so keep a short leash, but the upside is there are plenty of trash receptacles and great people watching. Make sure to stop at The Tin Fish before or after your walk to pick up complimentary dog biscuits, doggie bags and water. Pet owners will also love the fish tacos and other delicious bites at this casual outdoor restaurant, where your furry friend can lay by your feet while you overlook the lake.
Elm Creek Park Reserve
12400 James Deane Parkway
Maple Grove, MN 55369
Elm Creek Park Reserve has 20 miles of trails just waiting to be explored by you and your dog year round. On your jaunt, you may catch a glimpse of eagles, deer, swans and other animals. Make sure to bring your own baggies for clean-up and a leash six feet or shorter. But if your dog isn’t a fan of leashes, there is also an off-leash dog area within the park.
4801 S. Minnehaha Park Drive
Minneapolis, MN 55417
Minnehaha Falls offers plenty of exercise options for you and your dog. Take a walk down to the falls and enjoy the many tree-lined, unpaved paths and shady areas. Just make sure your dog does well on stairs and stays out of the fast-moving water. Or try out the paved walking areas above the falls and throughout the park for a drier, safer adventure. There is even an off-leash dog area at the south end of the park for pups who dare to go leash-free.
Cortney Mohnk is a freelance writer covering all things Minnesota. She is also a public relations and event planning professional. Her most important job is mother to her young daughter, who is her partner-in-crime when checking out the family entertainment scene in the Twin Cities. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.