Whether you choose a more urban trail or a hidden gem on the outskirts of town, snowshoeing will remind you of the impressive natural beauty that exists in the Twin Cities. While we talk a lot about the amazing green spaces around town during the summer months, it’s the white spaces that make Minnesota one of the best places to be in winter.
Although getting up north to snowshoe is ideal as far as many of us are concerned, metropolitans don’t always have the time. Whether it’s a weeknight stroll or a long afternoon hike you’re looking for, we rounded up some of the best places in the Twin Cities to go snowshoeing this winter. These trails are easy to travel to and access any day of the week.
1. Theodore Wirth Park
Theodore Wirth Park is one of Minneapolis’ greatest getaways. In addition to the miles of mountain biking trails throughout the park, you can also go off-trail to explore this wild area right in the city. Stop in at the Wirth Chalet for $12/day snowshoe rentals, and if you’re looking for a bit of competition, sign up for the Snowshoe Loppet at Wirth Park.
2. Fort Snelling State Park
The extensive trails at Fort Snelling State Park offer a wide range of scenery right at the confluence of the Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers. Home to a historic fort, you can even hike around the old buildings for a glimpse into what military life was like nearly 200 years ago.
3. Baker Park Reserve
Part of the Three Rivers Park District, Baker Park Reserve is situated on Lake Independence. The 2,700-acre park has more than 5 miles of snowshoe-designated trails that snake through a variety of natural landscapes. Equipment is available to rent at the chalet for $5.
4. Mississippi River Gorge Regional Park
The Mississippi River Gorge in Minneapolis offer a great chance to get off the beaten path to explore the shores of the Mighty Mississippi. To snowshoe the Minneapolis side, access the trails at the End of the Ford Bridge, the Lake Street Bridge, Franklin Avenue or in between those streets. The best access points on the St. Paul side are between Emerald Street and the Hidden Falls Regional Park entrance on Mississippi River Boulevard.
5. Afton State Park
With 4-miles of designated snowshoe trails and countless more miles off the beaten path, there’s no shortage of adventure to be had at Afton State Park . Thirty minutes south of the Twin Cities, Afton is a great destination for metro residents looking for some natural solitude outside of the city with minimal travel time. Snowshoes can be rented on site for $6 and if you’re interested in making a weekend of it, camper cabins and yurts available for overnight stays.
6. Murphy-Hanrehan Park Reserve
Murphy-Hanrehan features 5.5 miles of snowshoe trails throughout the park, more than any other Three Rivers park. Hiking along these trails in northeast Scott County, you’ll come across thick forests, glacial ridges, and rolling terrain. One of the most undeveloped areas in the Twin Cities, it remains a natural oasis for city dwellers.
7. Minnehaha Creek
In winter, long sections of the 22-mile Minnehaha Creek freezes, running from Lake Minnetonka to Minnehaha Falls. When it is frozen, the hike between Lake Nokomis flowing adjacent to the Minnehaha Parkway all the way to Lake Harriet makes for a gorgeous urban snowshoe hike.
8. Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge
With two visitor centers and more than 14,000 acres of wild land, the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge is a must-visit for locals. Offering a window into a variety of habitats within city limits, it’s a truly unique place. The area stretches from Fort Snelling to Jordan along the banks of the Minnesota River and provides a good chance of viewing a range of wildlife. Snowshoe rentals are available at the Bloomington Visitor and Education Center.
9. Lebanon Hills Regional Park
Part of the Dakota County Parks system, Lebanon Hills touts 2,000 acres of trails and lakes ripe for exploration all-year round. One of the best ways to see large areas of the park is by snowshoe. Rental equipment is available at the visitor center and they even offer the occasional guided snowshoe hike through the park.
10. Carver Park Reserve
Carver Park’s 4-miles of designated snowshoe trails provide a great tour of this park on the western edge of the Twin Cities. Also featuring more than 11-miles of cross country ski trails, there’s truly something for everyone at Carver.