Minnesota’s Great Outdoors
Minnesota is a great place to indulge your outdoor recreation habits, and many visitors are here for nothing but.
Right in the Twin Cities, Fort Snelling State Park, at the junction of the Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers, and the Louisville Swamp Unit of the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge up the Minnesota, are surprisingly wild places with some worthy hiking and ski trails. Lebanon Hills Regional Park has one of the best mountain bike trails in Minnesota and a canoe portage trail linking seven lakes.
St. Croix Valley
The upper reaches of the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway offer a leisurely paddle through some pretty deep wilderness. And, if you want white water, the Kettle River in Banning State Park and the St. Louis River in Jay Cooke State Park deliver in a big way. Some of the Midwest’s best rock climbers flock to Interstate State Park.
The possibilities are nearly endless in the Superior National Forest, but the highlight is the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, one of the world’s best canoe destinations. The Superior Hiking Trail, one of the country’s premier long-distance foot paths, climbs the hills above Lake Superior.
The state’s three best downhill ski areas, Lutsen Mountains, Giants Ridge, and Spirit Mountain, all rise near each other, and hundreds of kilometers of world-class cross-country skiing trails wind through the forests along the North Shore.
The Blufflands State Trail and Cannon Valley Trail, two paved rail-to-trail bike routes, are great ways to enjoy the Driftless Area’s unique beauty, as is paddling the Root River or the Cannon River, which cut the deep valleys the trails follow. It’s also a lot of fun to poke around the labyrinth backwaters of the Mississippi River. Extensively bolted Barn Bluff in Red Wing has some good rock climbing.
© Tim Bewer from Moon Minnesota, 3rd Edition