Updated: Aug 25, 2021
If you happen to live in Minneapolis, or anywhere in the Twin Cities for that matter, you probably live less than a 10-minute walk from a park or trail. That’s pretty amazing. There are few cities that have done as much as Minneapolis for the health of its residents. The Trust for Public Land is a national nonprofit organization that promotes healthy living by creating public parks across the country. Every year, the Trust rates the park systems of the top 100 largest cities in the United States. Last year, in 2018, the Trust ranked Minneapolis #1. Not surprisingly, St. Paul came in very close at #2.
With a wealth of parks and hiking trails located in and near Minneapolis, residents have great access to walking and outdoor recreation venues. As the premier home health care provider located in Minneapolis, Centric Healthcare reminds you that just 30 minutes of walking or moderate exercise per day can provide you with huge health benefits. Centric Healthcare recommends that you enjoy the fresh air and scenic beauty offered by your local parks and trails by using them for your walks and exercise routine. To help you along, we offer our list of the best parks and trails in the area.
Best Parks for Kids
Parks are perfect for family outings. Not only is movement and exercise great for adults, but it’s also needed by growing children. Playing not only improves your children’s physical health, but it also helps them grow emotionally and socially. Here are some of our favorite parks for children:
Chutes and Ladders
Your children will enjoy award-winning outdoor play equipment with long slides and tough climbs. The park also has a visitor center, concessions, hiking trails, an 18-hole disc golf course, and cross-country ski rental in the winter.
Located next to beautiful Lake Como, your children can visit Como Zoo, Como Town Amusement Park, and the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory. There is also an 18-hole golf course for the “older children” in your family.
Elm Creek Park Reserve
You and your children will enjoy 4,900 acres of hiking and biking trails, horse trails, and a swimming pond. As you move through forests, wetlands, and prairies, you’ll see plenty of wildlife.
Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden
Speaking of wildlife, wait until you see the variety of birds that are drawn to the plants and marshes here. As you walk with your children down one of the many trails, listen to the sounds of the peaceful pond, and drink in all of the garden’s natural beauty, it’s easy to forget that you’re in the middle of the city.
Franconia Sculpture Park
The park is well worth the drive. You and your children will enjoy giant sculptures created by local artists. You are even able to climb and play on some of the pieces. This is a great space for children to interact with nature and art at the same time.
French Regional Park
You and your children will love kayaking, canoeing, fishing, playing on the huge wooden playground, riding bikes on the trails, swimming, and hiking. The park has it all. Bring a picnic lunch, and spend the whole day.
Teddy Bear Park
The unique park was designed with your small ones in mind. Although your whole family will enjoy the park, children 7 years old and younger will love the teddy bear theme and the play equipment made for toddlers.
Best Parks with Lakes
Few things help relieve stress more than the sights and sounds of a walk around a body of water. Many of our favorite parks are anchored by lakes. Here are a few of the best lake parks.
Lake of the Isles Park
The park connects Cedar Lake with Lake Calhoun. You can kayak to the park’s two inland islands to explore them. During winter, the park offers ice skates rentals during winter and a warming shelter with coffee and hot chocolate.
On the southwest side of Minneapolis, the park offers sailing and fishing on its grounds. Its large bandshell is a popular venue for live music and outdoor movies.
Lake Nokomis Park
City Pages named the park the “Best Place to Get Away from it All Without Leaving Town.” In addition to the lake, the playground includes nets, hoops, slides and other elements designed to help children build strength and coordination.
The park is the location for several community celebrations every year, including a May Day parade, a 4th of July firework show and an annual art fair. The park’s lake is stocked every year with crappies, sunfish and adult catfish up to 10 pounds.
Quarry Park and Nature Preserve
Although its deep quarry pools aren’t natural lakes, this park offers swimming, rock climbing, bird watching, cross-country skiing, mountain biking, trout fishing and scuba diving. Yes, we said “scuba diving!”
Located only a few minutes from downtown Minneapolis, the park’s trails offer scenic views of Silver Lake, prairie and oak forests. Here you can visit the park’s art gallery, fish and rent a canoe or kayak.
Best Dog-Friendly Parks
Your dog not only gives companionship, but it also provides motivation to get out of your house and walk. Like us, dogs need to exercise regularly to be healthy. Many of the area’s parks allow dogs to be walked on a leash, but you should always check whether or not dogs are allowed before you go with your pet. Here are some of our favorite parks that welcome dogs and even provide fenced spaces for your dog to run and socialize without a leash.
Carver Park Reserve
The nature reserve contains the most trails of any park in the west metro. Walkthrough swampland using the 1,700 feet of boardwalk, and don’t forget to let your dog run around in the park’s no-leash zone.
Enjoy the natural space while taking in some of the best city views around. The dog-friendly, urban park is connected to several of Minneapolis’ well-known attractions.
Minnehaha Falls Regional Park
One of the oldest parks in the state, it offers some of the area’s most beautiful scenery. Longfellow wrote about the site in his poem, “The Song of Hiawatha.” In addition to the no-leash dog area provide within the park, you can walk your dog on a leash down miles of trails that wind through the woods.
With 18 miles of hiking trails, 13 miles of horse trails, and 10 miles of mountain biking trails, you’ll find there is no shortage of paths to explore the beautiful, dog-friendly park. It’s one of the most diverse parks in the metro area, providing both hilly forests and flat marshlands. You and your dog will love it here.
Best State Parks
Minneapolis is a short drive away from many state parks in the area. Visit one of our favorites for a fun and healthy road trip.
Blue Mounds State Park
Located in Luverne, MN, you will find buffalo, birds and a gorgeous lake in a prairie setting. Take a break from your television and phone, and enjoy the best that Minnesota has to offer as you explore the park.
Fort Snelling State Park
Located at the historic site where the Minnesota and Mississippi Rivers meet, you can hike, bike and play in the beautiful park. The trails are relatively flat, and the spaces are wide open. Plus, this gem of a park is not too far from home.
Sibley State Park
The park offers Mount Tom for incredible views and Lake Andrew for water activities. Do you like horseback riding? Well, it offers that too. If you want to stay overnight, there are campsites and cabins for rent.
Upper Sioux Agency State Park
You can hike through the bluffs in the summer and ski across the prairie in the winter. Regardless of when or how you choose to enjoy the park, you will find that it’s one of the most beautiful and historically important spots in Minnesota.
Best Hiking Trails
Never underestimate the health benefits of walking. 30 minutes per day can improve your heart health, your circulation, your energy levels, and your mental health. Walking helps your posture and it helps to strengthen your bones. Most parks in Minneapolis offer trails and paths that are perfect for daily walking. However, when you have the time, Centric Healthcare invites you to take a walk on one of our favorite trails located across Minnesota.
Eagle Mountain Trail
The trail leads you to the highest point in Minnesota. If you are an experienced hiker or are ready for more of a challenge than the trails in your neighborhood offer, this rugged wilderness trail might be for you.
Glacial Pothole Trail
Glacial Potholes are smooth, carved-out places in rock that were created thousands of years ago by swirling water from melting glaciers. On the trail, you’ll see many glacial potholes. The trail is easier than the Eagle Mountain Trail, and it’s family-friendly.
Little Two Harbors Trail
At only ¾ of a mile long, the little Two Harbors Trail is perfect for a short hike. What this trail lacks in length, it makes up for in scenery and in the access, it provides you too many popular features of Split Rock Lighthouse State Park.
North River Trail & Prairie Loop
The North River Trail runs parallels with the St. Croix River for just over a mile and then climbs a bluff to a scenic overlook. From there, the Prairie Loop adds some mileage to your hike through an amazing prairie landscape.
The trail leads you to some of the most amazing campsites found in Minnesota. Located only a mile from the Ozawindib Trailhead, the Aiton Heights Fire Tower provides a 100-foot-high view of the Lake Itasca watershed and one of the best spots in the state to experience a sunset or sunrise.
The trial is Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accessible. The most popular waterfalls in Gooseberry State Park are the Upper, Middle, and Lower Falls of the Gooseberry River. Each of these falls can be seen from the Riverview Trail. After experiencing the waterfalls along this trail, you can continue your journey on the Superior Hiking Trail.
Silver Creek Trail
This 3.5-mile loop offers fantastic views of the St. Louis River. You can see how the river has cut a rugged path through the bedrock that now serves as its banks. Continue hiking into Jay Cooke State Park’s backcountry by following connections to the Summer Trail and Lost Lake Trail.
Once you gain some experience as a hiker, and after you possess the proper equipment, try challenging yourself on this 32-mile loop of the unmaintained trail. You’ll be rewarded by some of the most beautiful, untouched wilderness on the planet. Plan on making a multi-day trip out of it. But, remember that permits are required to travel and spend the night within the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.
Snelling Lake Trail
There is no need to drive a long distance to enjoy a state trail because Snelling Lake Trail is located only 2 miles east of the Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport. The trail features gravel walkways and 2 to 3 mile loops that are perfect for an extended lunch break or quick walk after work. If you feel up to an extra workout, follow the non-gravel trail for 6 miles along the banks of the Minnesota River.
Superior Hiking Trail
The Superior Hiking Trail (SHT) is the prized gem of Minnesota’s hiking trails. The SHT winds for 260 miles from Duluth to the Canadian border; but you will find places to enter the trail every 10 miles or so. On the trail, you’ll see forests, waterfalls, sheer cliffs, and miles of open water landscapes. Take a section of it for a short hike, or come equipped to follow it for days. This inspirational trail will never disappoint you.
The North Country National Scenic Trail
You know about the interstate highway system that crisscrosses the United States. But did you know that there are interstate hiking trails too? The North Country National Scenic Trail (NCT) connects New York and North Dakota, cutting through Minnesota and other northern states. Its 4,600-mile length ranks as the longest National Scenic Trail in America. The NCT runs through several state parks and national forests. It travels through the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, as it makes its way through Minnesota. For maps and more information on planning a hike on the NCT, go to the North Country Trail Association’s website.
Wolf Creek Falls Trail
While exploring the natural beauty of the Kettle River and the abandoned sandstone quarry in Banning State Park, look for this trail. Be sure to bring your camera, though, for it will lead you to the rushing waters of Wolf Creek Falls.
As you discover these parks and trails on your own, and as you enjoy the quality of life that Minneapolis offers, keep Centric Healthcare in mind for your home health care needs. We’ll be seeing you on the trails!