Top 5 hiking trails in and around Minneapolis
Let’s get one thing clear: Hiking is a big deal in Minneapolis. As you probably know, there are many benefits of taking the dirt-trail less traveled. Aside from the obvious peace of mind, tranquility and thigh burn, hiking is a great way to experience the great outdoors while staying close to the city.
Sure, many cities in America have urban hiking trails, but few have as many trails as Minneapolis. Maybe that's why Minneapolis has been named one of the best places to live by Outside Magazine time and time again.
We’ve rounded up some of the best hikes in the city and surrounding area that will satisfy your hiking itch. Even better, most of these hikes can be reached by city bus or light rail. While you're at it, check out our guide to hiking in St Paul.
The gold standard of urban hiking, the trails of Eloise Butler take hikers through a web of scenic Minnesota low-land. Park your car at Eloise Butler (or, better yet, take the city bus there), and set off on one of the many trails that meander through untouched ponds and vibrant marsh ecosystems. If you take the hike in the summer, the buzz of the freeway will soon fade away, replaced by the hum of frogs and cicadas.
Minnehaha Falls Regional Park has something for everyone—including the hikers who want to escape the buzz of the city but also want to end up at a cool urban eatery afterward. Starting at the Minnehaha Falls picnic area, the trail drops visitors into rolling, bucolic wonderland that includes over 10-miles of trails and handsome views of the 53-foot-tall Minnehaha waterfall. Even better, you’ll end up right where you started, at the crux of Minnehaha Falls and the adjacent Sea Salt Eatery. The crawfish po’boy is always worth the wait.
Boasting the most trails in the west metro, Carver Park is a great place to spend an afternoon. If you go at dusk, you’ll no doubt be joined by local swallows and perhaps even a bald eagle or two. Take in Minnesota’s diverse swampland from Carver Park’s boardwalk—a 1,700 foot floating boardwalk that will transport you in the eerie tamarack swamps.
Long before Minnesota received its statehood, Fort Snelling was a military outpost. During the Civil War era, it even served as a training ground for Union soldiers. Now, the trails—which traverse through the confluence of the Mississippi and Minnesota rivers and link up to the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge—will immerse you in this history and the decades of conflict between the colonizers and the rivers' original settlers, the Objibwe people.
Starting at the Old Cedar Bridge, the Murphy-Hanrehan trail system is an oasis for hikers and mountain bikers. You’ll link up with the Wood Duck trail which will lead you through some of the hilliest terrain in the Twin Cities. At 20 miles, Murphy-Hanrehan is one of the most diverse parks in the metro area, providing both hilly forests and flat marshlands. The diversity makes for some of the best bird watching in town. Expect to see blackbirds, blue herons and egrets on this hike.