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Outdoors

Summer Guide 2024: Hiking and Camping

Big warning this year for pretty much every campsite: There will be mud.

Nature stuff: We love it here in Minnesota. The following is a list of all the cool hiking trails and camping options you can enjoy this summer.

Bryant Lake Regional Park

Hiking

Walking through nature can be a really good time. Just remember to bring water, sunscreen, bug spray, and good shoes. Another important note: Don’t be fooled by all these identical links. Each link listing takes you to that specific park page. Happy hiking everyone! 

Afton State Park

Trails feature river views, ferns, hike-in campsites, overlooks, and former railway bridges on 20 miles turf; 4 miles paved; .75 miles self-guided. Info for 2024: Most of the beach is currently underwater, the horse trails are open, and the goats have moved. 6959 S. Peller Ave., Hastings; 651-436-5391; dnr.state.mn.us.

Anderson Lakes

This 1.1-mile walk/bike trail is described on its site as “gentle.” There’s also a dog-friendly trail! 9800 Anderson Lakes Lakes Pkwy., Eden Prairie; threeriversparks.org.

Baker Park Reserve

Take a cruise around Lake Independence. This park features 19.8 miles total, paved and unpaved, with some specifically dog-friendly trails. You’ll want to check online this year for news on County Road 19 construction, which will have an impact on the roads and trail entrances in 2024 (​​Lake Independence Regional Trail is closed from Loretto south to County Road 11 through July, for example). 2309 Baker Park Rd., Maple Plain; 763-694-7860; threeriversparks.org.

Banning State Park

Featuring overlooks, the bad-ass sounding Hell’s Gate Trail, historic buildings, and other cool things to discover on 17 miles turf; 1 mile paved; 1.8 miles self-guided. The (questionably named?) Skunk Cabbage Trail will be closed in 2024 due to bridge repairs. Hwy. 23 and I-35, Sandstone, 320-245-2668; dnr.state.mn.us.

Bassett Creek Regional Trail

This 7-mile paved trail will take you to French Regional Park in Plymouth, Theodore Wirth Regional Park, and the Scenic Byway System in Minneapolis with nice stops in Plymouth, New Hope, Crystal, and Golden Valley; threeriversparks.org.

Big Rivers Regional Trail

Featuring a 6-mile paved trail. Hwy. 55 to Mendota Heights Rd., west 1/2 mi. on the road to trailhead, Mendota Heights; 952-891-7000; co.dakota.mn.us.

Bryant Lake Regional Park

With 4.4 miles of paved trails, with connection to Minnesota River Bluff LRT Regional trails. Important info for dogs: They have an off-leash area and a two-mile dog-friendly trail. 6800 Rowland Rd., Eden Prairie, 763-694-7764; threeriversparks.org.

Carver Park Reserve

Carver Park Reserve

Travel through the forest and marshes on 9 miles of paved dog-friendly trails on top of 25.7 miles that take you to Lowry Nature Center and the Lake Minnetonka Regional Trail. 7400 Grimm Rd. (Lowry Nature Center), Victoria, 763-694-7650; threeriversparks.org.

Charles A. Lindbergh State Park

Featuring Pike Creek overlook, prairie trails, river trails, and fun footbridges along 7 miles of turf. The website is currently warning folks on trails to be ready for mud thanks to the rainy weather. 1615 Lindbergh Dr. S., Little Falls; 320-616-2525; dnr.state.mn.us.

Cleary Lake Regional Park

This quiet, scenic 5.9-mile hiking path connects to Big Woods Regional Trail. 18106 Texas Ave., Prior Lake; threeriversparks.org.

Clifton E. French Regional Park

This paved 10.4-mile trail loops between the visitor center and the beach. The trail also connects to Medicine Lake and Bassett Creek Regional Trails. 12605 Rockford Rd., Plymouth, 763-694-7750; threeriversparks.org.

Crow-Hassan Park Reserve

This restored prairie trail features tons of nature, including trumpeter swans and bald eagles along 18 miles of turf, plus 10 miles designated for dogs. 12595 Park Dr., Hanover; 763-694-7860; threeriversparks.org.

Crystal Lake Regional Trail 

This 8.6-mile, Jason Voorhees-free paved trail will take you through downtown Robbinsdale, and will connect you to the Grand Rounds Trail near Lowry Avenue. threeriversparks.org.

Dakota Rail Regional Trail

This 13.5-mile paved trail offers Lake Minnetonka views and follows the former Dakota Rail Corridor through St. Bonifacius, Minnetrista, Mound, Spring Park, Minnetonka Beach, Orono, and Wayzata. threeriversparks.org.

Eagle Lake Regional Park

Eagle Lake Regional Park

Enjoy 1.8 miles of paved trail, which connects to adjoining municipal trails. 11000 Bass Lake Rd., Plymouth, 763-694-7695; threeriversparks.org.

Elm Creek Park Reserve

Over 50 miles of hiking trails, both paved and unpaved. Watch out for beavers, bald eagles, and other cool creatures. 12400 James Deanne Pkwy., Maple Grove; 763-694-7894, threeriversparks.org.

Fish Lake Regional Park

Over three miles miles of hiking trails, both paved and unpaved. 14900 Bass Lake Rd., Maple Grove; 763-694-7818, threeriversparks.org

Fort Snelling State Park

So many trails! Check out nature, history, and everything in-between at this historic site featuring 18-miles total. Check online for updates on Picnic and Park Islands, which are currently closed due to flooding. 101 Snelling Lake Rd., St. Paul; 612-279-3550; dnr.state.mn.us.

French Regional Park

Over 10 miles total, both paved and unpaved, some portions lit. 12605 County Road 9, Plymouth 763-694-7750; threeriversparks.org.

Gale Woods Farm

Almost 4 miles of crushed limestone trails. 7210 County Rd. 110 W., Minnetrista, 763-694-2001; threeriversparks.org.

Hidden Falls Regional Park

Enjoy a shady 6.7 miles of paved trails next to the Mississippi River. Check online before heading out though; there have already been flooding closures this summer. 1313 Hidden Falls Dr., St. Paul; 651-632-5111; stpaul.gov.

Hyland Lake Park Reserve

Nearly 18 miles of trails, both paved and unpaved. 10145 Bush Lake Rd., Bloomington; 763-694-7687, threeriversparks.org.

Interstate Park

Four miles turf; 3 miles self-guided; .5 miles wheelchair-accessible. The Sandstone Bluff trail has been closed due to erosion and they recommend bringing bug spray with you on any adventure here, as mosquitos are out in full force this year. 307 Milltown Rd., Taylors Falls, 651-465-5711; dnr.state.mn.us.

Kingswood Park

This park is open for interim use this summer, and offers pristine nature so don’t be a disgusting human and mess it up: 1.3 miles of turf trails. 7301 Kingswood Rd., Minnetrista; 763-694-7754; threeriversparks.org/location/kingswood-park.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALake Independence Regional Trail

Lake Independence Regional Trail 

This 15.9-mile paved trail connects Crow-Hassan Park Reserve, Baker Park Reserve, and the Luce Line State Trail and is 10-feet-wide. Dang! threeriversparks.org.

Lake Maria State Park

Trails include the Big Woods Loop, with 14 miles turf, 2 miles self-guided. 11411 Clementa Ave. NW, Monticello; 763-878-2325; dnr.state.mn.us.

Lake Minnetonka Regional Park

This 3.5-mile paved trail connects to other community trails. 4610 Cty. Rd. 44, Minnetrista, 763-694-7754; threeriversparks.org.

Lake Minnetonka Regional Trail 

This epic 15.8 miles of aggregate trail runs between Hopkins and Carver Park Reserve, with scenic views of Lake Minnetonka along the way, passing through Minnetonka, Deephaven, Greenwood, Excelsior, Shorewood, and Victoria. threeriversparks.org.

Lake Rebecca Park Reserve

This 15.6 miles of paved trail loops around the entire park reserve. 9831 Rebecca Park Trail, Rockford, 763-694-7860; threeriversparks.org.

Luce Line Regional Trail

Go from Minneapolis to the prairie. This connector trail will take you through the ‘burbs to all kinds of urban city routes; threeriversparks.org

Medicine Lake Regional Trail

Walk along 20.7 miles of paved trail connecting to Bassett Creek and Luce Line Regional Trails, as well as many community trails; threeriversparks.org.

Minnesota River Bluffs LRT Regional Trail 

This 9.2-mile aggregate trail follows an old railroad route from downtown Hopkins to Chanhassen and downtown Chaska. Check their site before making plans for a big ride; portions of the Hopkins trail are closed or have detours; threeriversparks.org.

Minnesota Valley State Recreational Area

Featuring historic trails, lake trails, and more, with 47 miles turf; 6 miles paved; 4.5 miles self-guided. 19825 Park Blvd., Jordan; 952-254-5774; dnr.state.mn.us.

Mississippi Gateway Regional Park 

Walk over the river on this one-mile path! 10360 W. River Rd., Brooklyn Park. Threeriversparks.org.

Murphy-Hanrehan Park Reserve

Designated an Important Bird Area by the National Audubon Society, this 21.4-mile trail, both paved and unpaved, features the hiking-only Wood Duck Trail. 15501 Murphy Lake Rd. (Cty. Rd. 75), Savage; 763-694-7777; threeriversparks.org.

Nine Mile Creek Regional Trail

This 15.3-mile paved trail features a mile of wooden boardwalk and connects Hopkins and the Minnesota River Bluffs Regional Trail with Edina, Minnetonka, and Richfield; threeriversparks.org.

Noerenberg Memorial Gardens

Noerenberg Memorial Gardens

Do you like flowers? This is the walk for you. They even have an extensive bloom schedule on their website. 2865 Northshore Dr., Wayzata; 763-559-6700; threeriversparks.org.

Nokomis-Minnesota River Regional Trail

Starting at Lake Nokomis, this 5-mile paved trail connects the Minneapolis Grand Rounds Scenic Byway System with the Minnesota River, passing through Richfield and Bloomington, with many connections to other trails; threeriversparks.org.

North Cedar Lake Regional Trail

This 4.4-mile paved trail begins in Hopkins and passes through neighborhoods in St. Louis Park before connecting to trails around Cedar Lake in Minneapolis; threeriversparks.org.

North Mississippi Regional Park

Over a mile of paved trails with views of the Mississippi River and its wooded shoreline. 5700 Lyndale Ave. N., Minneapolis, 763-694-7790; threeriversparks.org.

Rush Creek Regional Trail 

This 9.9-mile paved trail links Elm Creek Park Reserve to Mississippi Gateway Regional Park; threeriversparks.org.

Shingle Creek Regional Trail

This 8.4-mile paved trail traverses parks and wetlands through most of Brooklyn Center, and provides access to Brooklyn Center City Hall/Community Center, the Brookdale Library, and nearby businesses; threeriversparks.org.

Sochacki Park

This 1.3-mile paved trail is described as “meandering” and features picnic areas. 3500 June Ave. N., Robbinsdale; threeriversparks.org.

Spring Lake Regional Park

According to the website: “Every day, eagles readily soar in the sky.” Also here: 4.5 miles of trail. 15851 Skuya Dr. NW, Prior Lake; 763-694-7777; threeriversparks.org.

Tierney Woods

Wooded, 1.8-mile turf trails. 8200 W. Bush Lake Rd., Bloomington; 763-694-7687; threeriversparks.org.

University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

Featuring lots of flowers, cool events throughout the year, and seasonal offerings on this 6 miles paved; 8.25 miles turf. Getting there: Always check online for nearby road closures. 3675 Arboretum Dr., Chaska, 952-443-1400; arboretum.umn.edu.

West Mississippi River Regional Trail 

This 10.4-mile paved trail links the communities of North Minneapolis, Brooklyn Center, and Brooklyn Park, and will eventually extend north through Champlain and Dayton and connect to Medicine Lake Regional Trail as well as the Crow River and Wright County; threeriversparks.org. 

Willard Munger State Trail

This trail runs 70 miles from Hinckley to Duluth. The paved 18.3 mile Gateway state trail traverses Phalen Park. Bring water! 651-296-6157; dnr.state.mn.us.

Baker Park Reserve

Camping

Sleeping in nature? It can be a lot of fun! This list includes all kinds of options, whether you prefer more of a glamping experience via log cabins with running water or you want to stay in a tiny tent from home. Also: yurts. Yes, there are yurts. 

Afton State Park

Guys, they have yurts here. You can rent a yurt. The park also has 28 all-season backpack camping sites, lodges, canoe loading, and more. 6959 S. Peller Ave., Hastings; 651-436-5391; dnr.state.mn.us.

Baker Park Reserve

More than 200 public campgrounds and group campsites, electrical hookups are available at some sites. 2309 Cty. Rd. 19, Maple Plain; 763-694-7662; threeriversparks.org.

Banning State Park

Featuring 33 drive-in campsites, 11 electric, and one cabin. With canoeing and trails for hiking. It’s gonna be rustic this year: The campground shower building is closed in 2024 though several spigot sites are available. Hwy. 23 and I-35, Sandstone; 320-245-2668; dnr.state.mn.us.

Charles A. Lindbergh State Park

Featuring 38 drive-in sites and 15 electric sites. With wildflowers, picnic areas. No reservations necessary. 1615 Lindbergh Dr. S., Little Falls; 320-616-2525; dnr.state.mn.us.

Cleary Lake Regional Park

Public campground includes 20 tent sites, plus two RV sites with full hookups. Closings for 2024: The Basswood (walk-in campsites) and White Pine (drive-in campsites) at the Cleary Lake Campground are closed due to construction. 18107 Texas Ave., Prior Lake, 763-694-7777; threeriversparks.org.

Crow-Hassan Park Reserve

Group campsites that also accommodate the horse buddies in your life. 12595 Park Dr., Hanover; 763-694-7860; threeriversparks.org.

Yep, that's a yurt at Afton State Park

Interstate State Park

Featuring backpack campsites, accessible campsites, horse campsites, water campsites, and all kinds of other options. 1275 State Hwy. 35, St. Croix Falls, WI; 715-483-3747; dnr.wisconsin.gov.

Lake Auburn Campground

This 57-site “rustic” campground features a beach, play equipment, miles of trails, and other park amenities. 7290 Victoria Dr., Victoria; 763-694-1112; threeriversparks.org.

Lake Maria State Park

Lake Maria features three heated log cabins; 17 secluded backpack sites, available year-round. 11411 Clementa Ave. NW, Monticello; 763-878-2325; dnr.state.mn.us.

Minnesota Valley State Recreational Area

With hiking, horse trails, 25 drive-in campsites, eight walk-in sites. This park links Fort Snelling State Park with the Minnesota Valley Wildlife Refuge. 19825 Park Blvd., Jordan; 952-259-5774; dnr.state.mn.us.

Sakatah Lake State Park

With hiking, biking. More than 60 drive-in and RV campsites, 14 with electricity. 50499 Sakatah Lake State Pk. Rd., Waterville; 507-362-4438; dnr.state.mn.us.

Temperance River State Park

With rock climbing, hiking, and fishing. 52 drive-in sites, 18 with electricity, and six cart-in sites. 7620 West, MN-61, Schroder; 218-663-7476; dnr.state.mn.us.

Tettegouche State Park

Tettegouche State Park

With scenic waterfalls, hiking, rock climbing. More than 25 drive-in and RV sites, 13 cart-in sites, and six walk-in sites, though several campsites are closed in 2024 due to erosion. 5702 Hwy. 61, Silver Bay, 218-353-8800; dnr.state.mn.us.

Wild River State Park

Canoeing, self-guided trails, hiking, with 96 drive-in and RV sites (34 with electricity), seven backpack sites, six heated camping cabins with screened porches and electricity, and one guest house (currently closed due to electrical issues, but may still open this summer) are located on 6,000 acres of state park. 39797 Park Tr., Center City, 651-583-2925; dnr.state.mn.us.

Wilderness Campgrounds

With canoe and boat rentals, fishing, bike trails, and more. Also: They have spring break-style floaties in the lake, minus the spring breakers. 1499 State Hwy 22, Montello, WI; 608-297-2002; wildernesscampground.com.

William O’Brien State Park

Featuring 120 drive-in sites, 77 electric. The park features trails for hiking and bird-watching. 16821 N. O’Brien Tr., Marine-on-St. Croix, 651-433-0500; dnr.state.mn.us.

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