The Best Trails for Every Winter Activity in Minneapolis-Saint Paul
One of the best things about snow-based activities in the Minneapolis-Saint Paul metro region is that there’s typically snow to be had throughout March — and sometimes even into early April. That makes the area the perfect spot for your snowy spring break getaway.
Whether you love snowshoeing, fat-tire biking or cross-country skiing, we’ve got you covered. Here are the best spots for your activity of choice.
At 14,000 acres, Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge offers plenty of opportunities for snowshoeing in a rustic environment — without leaving Bloomington. Keep an eye out for white-tailed deer, bald eagles, wild turkeys and river otters. In addition to snowshoeing, the 46 miles of trails are also perfect for hiking, cross-country skiing and fat-tire biking.
For an outdoor getaway in the heart of Richfield, check out the 3 miles of snowshoeing trails at Wood Lake Nature Center. The 150-acre park is home to plenty of local wildlife — you might spot owls or muskrats, or even hear a coyote. The trails are also open for cross-country skiing.
Start in Burnsville’s Minnesota Riverfront Park for a 3.75-mile ride along the Black Dog segment of the Minnesota River Greenway Trail. The paved riverside trail includes an observation deck and viewing areas where you can stop to see the wildlife at the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge.
Or you can opt for a fat-tire bike ride that spans two states on the St. Croix Crossing Loop Trail. The 4.7-mile trail includes Stillwater’s historic lift bridge, which connects Minnesota and Wisconsin. Enjoy beautiful views of the St. Croix River, as well as downtown Stillwater and the bridges that span the river.
If you’re a beginner, the flat terrain and nearly 2 miles of trails at Rice Creek Chain of Lakes Park Reserve in Lino Lakes is the best place to start. The multiuse trails are also groomed for cross-country skiing.
The best winter hike is along Minneapolis’ Minnehaha Creek Trail, a 1.8-mile loop. That’s because the wooded route leads to Minnehaha Falls, a 53-foot waterfall that freezes in the winter resulting in a striking photo opportunity. The Minnehaha Falls area is family-friendly and partially ADA-accessible, with paved and plowed trails.
At Theodore Wirth Regional Park in Golden Valley, you’ll have your pick of cross-country skiing experiences. Want to enjoy spectacular views of downtown Minneapolis while you ski? No problem. Looking for a more secluded, wooded trail with lake views? You got it. With over 14 miles of groomed ski trails for both classic and skate-style skiing, there’s something for every type of skier. Need some equipment? Easy — rental skis are available at The Trailhead. Trails are also available for snowshoeing, fat-tire biking, hiking and skijoring.
Immerse yourself in nature at Lebanon Hills Regional Park in Eagan, which has miles of ski trails across nearly 2,000 acres. Trails are groomed for both dual-tracked classic cross-country skiing and skate skiing. If you don’t have your own skis, rental equipment is available at the Lebanon Hills Visitor Center. Online reservations are required, and both child and adult sizes are available. Lebanon Hills Regional Park is also home to over 50 miles of family-friendly walking trails for winter hiking.
As one of the largest parks in the Minneapolis-Saint Paul metro region, Elm Creek Park Reserve boasts 11.6 miles of cross-country skiing trails, including lighted trails for nighttime skiing. Equipment is available for rent at the Winter Recreation Area, and Elm Creek Park Reserve is also home to 7 miles of snowshoeing trails.
Enjoy the beauty and bliss of a Minnesota winter on the groomed ski trails at Roseville’s Cedarholm Golf Course, which overlooks Lake Zimmerman and features rolling hills and mature spruce trees. Bonus: The trails are great for snowshoeing and sledding, too. Cross-country ski equipment is available for rent at Roseville’s City Hall.
For a day of cross-country skiing that’s all about spectacular views of nature, check out Lakeville’s Ritter Farm Park. The groomed, one-way trail meanders for 5.7 miles around prairie openings, through undeveloped woodlands, across low ridges and into shallow ravines. The trail is also available for winter hiking.
For a wintry adrenaline rush, rent a snowmobile at Minnesota Snowmobile Rentals in Shakopee and hit the trails at Minnesota Valley State Recreation Area. There are 35 miles of multiuse trails that cover a wide range of landscapes, including wetlands, floodplain forest and blufftop oak savanna. Besides snowmobiling, Minnesota Valley State Recreation Area offers opportunities for snowshoeing, fat-tire biking and cross-country skiing.
Want to bring your dog along on your outdoor adventure? Skijoring is a winter activity that combines cross-country skiing with dog sledding — a person on skis is attached to their dog with a specialized harness and is pulled along as the dog runs in front. Bunker Hills Regional Park in Coon Rapids boasts more than 7 miles of skijoring trails that meander through oaks, pines and prairie. In addition to skijoring, Bunker Hills is great for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.
Over at Brookview Golf Course in Golden Valley, you’ll find a multiuse groomed trail that’s perfect for skijoring, with gently rolling hills and LED lights for nighttime adventures. The trail is also suitable for fat-tire biking, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and hiking. Afterward, warm up with a meal or drink at Three One Six Bar + Grill.