Do you want to escape the hustle and bustle of city life and immerse your family in the great outdoors? While many people primarily associate Minneapolis and St. Paul with shopping, there are still ample hiking and nature trails for families to explore.
But with so many trails in the Twin Cities, it can be tough to know which ones are suitable and enjoyable for kids and families. That’s where this article comes in – to guide you on the best Hiking and Nature Trails for Kids and Families in Twin Cities.
1. Minnehaha Loop Falls
If you want a trek suitable for the whole family and offers stunning scenery, go no further than Minnehaha Loop Falls! This well-known park in the center of Minneapolis is ideal for families to explore and make memories.
There is no shortage of beauty here, with the focus being the magnificent Minnehaha Falls. The 53-foot waterfall, which has a strong flow in the summer and beautiful icicles in the winter, is breathtaking to behold. The Minnehaha Creek Trail offers a more in-depth encounter with nature and leads you past the falls and along the tranquil creek if you’re eager for a somewhat longer journey.
Families can enjoy the park’s many hiking and nature trails along the majestic Mississippi River and take in the natural beauty of the surroundings. These paths are lovely for families with younger or older children because they are appropriate for kids of all ages. Families can also unwind and share a picnic in one of the park’s many picnic spots after a day of exploring.
2. The Theodore Wirth Wildflower Trail
Step into the great outdoors and experience the beauty of nature with your family at Theodore Wirth Wildflower Trail. Nestled in the heart of Theodore Wirth Regional Park, the largest park in the Minneapolis parks system, this 1.8-mile roundtrip hike is perfect for families with children of all ages. As you stroll along the trail, take in the picturesque woods and boardwalks and soak up the serene surroundings.
Get ready to be mesmerized by the stunning wildflowers at the Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden and Bird Sanctuary. In the summer, the garden comes to life with an array of beautiful blooms, and in the winter, the park transforms into a winter wonderland for cross-country skiing. As you hike this trail, keep an eye out for local wildlife, such as white-tailed deer and turkeys.
3. Quaking Bog Loop
The Quaking Bog Loop at Theodore Wirth Regional Park is a perfect adventure for families and nature enthusiasts of all skill levels. This 1.2-mile roundtrip hike is easy-going, with only minimal elevation gain, and takes you through the breathtaking last remaining Tamarack Bog in Minneapolis. You’ll start off on a boardwalk, immersing yourself in the lush swampy environment, before taking a peaceful stroll along a dirt path surrounded by towering trees and beautiful wildflowers.
The beauty of this trail is that you’ll feel like you’re far from civilization when, in reality, you’re just a stone’s throw from the heart of the city. So, gather your family and head to Theodore Wirth Regional Park for a double dose of adventure by combining this hike with the Wildflower Trail. Experience the joys of nature and make memories that will last a lifetime.
4. Lebanon Hills Loop
If you’re looking for a family-friendly hike near the Twin Cities that showcases the beauty of Minnesota’s famous 10,000+ lakes, the Lebanon Hills Loop is the trail for you! This 5.3-mile trek circles three lakes – Jensen, Cattail, and O’Brien Lakes – and three ponds – Sedge, Bridge, and Lily Ponds, offering stunning views of Minnesota’s natural wonders.
Just make sure to bring along some bug spray during the summer months, as mosquitos are known to be quite active on this trail. Located close to Fort Snelling State Park and the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge, the Lebanon Hills is one of the best hikes to explore within an hour’s drive of the Twin Cities.
5. Loring Park
Loring Park in the Twin Cities is a must-see location. The neighborhood around the park has a great vibe and provides many outdoor options. Although Loring Park isn’t really a hiking route, it allows you to spend quality time with your children while getting fresh air.
From the Basilica of Saint Mary, take a leisurely stroll to the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, where you and your loved ones will be awestruck by the fanciful sculptures Spoonbridge and Cherry, as well as the cheerful blue rooster. Also, remember to visit the Walker Art Center.
6. St. Anthony Falls Heritage Trail
The 1.7-mile St. Anthony Falls Heritage Trail in the Twin Cities is one of the best hiking and nature trails for families and children. You travel along the majestic Mississippi River and the well-known Stone Arch Bridge on the trail.
The famous St. Anthony Falls and Hennepin Island, which housed milling operations in the 1800s, can be seen while you and your loved ones stroll along the trail. Minneapolis received much praise at the time for being the “Flour Milling Capital of the World.” In addition to offering a wealth of opportunities for outdoor activity, the St. Anthony Falls Heritage Trail offers tourists a look into Minneapolis’ extensive past.
7. Big Pond Loop
One of the best family-friendly treks in the Twin Cities is Big Pond Loop in Northfield, where you can experience the enchantment of nature. This is the ideal outdoor activity for families looking for a simple, pleasurable day out, with a leisurely 0.8-mile track.
Stroll through lush woodlands and restored prairies while seeing the breathtaking views of wildflowers and various fauna. The large pond is a must-visit since it provides chances to watch ducks, geese, and colorful bluebirds.
Remember to bring a quick bite to share with the ducks while you create priceless family memories at Big Pond Loop. This trail is among the best hikes in Minnesota because of its accessibility and richness of natural beauty.
8. Interstate State Park
Embark on a family-friendly adventure at the picturesque Interstate State Park in Taylors Falls, MN. Conveniently located near the intersection of Highway 8 and I-95, this park offers a natural escape for families in the Twin Cities.
Stroll along the tranquil St. Croix River and explore the diverse beauty of its trails, dotted with geologically significant features like glacial potholes, exposed lava flows, and old faults. Wave to the passing boats and kayakers, adding to the charm of this famous river valley during the summer months.
9. Fort Snelling State Park
Visit Fort Snelling State Park with your loved ones for a thrilling and instructive journey! You can observe airplanes flying overhead because it is close to the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. Additionally, if you’re fortunate, you might see some animals like beavers or bald eagles!
The park has 18 miles of hiking trails, including a pleasant ascent to historic Fort Snelling, where visitors can discover Minnesota’s fascinating history and take in breathtaking river valley vistas. You can also hike to Pike Island, where the Mississippi and Minnesota rivers meet, for a singular experience. Any family seeking an outdoor adventure in the Twin Cities should visit Fort Snelling State Park.
10. Dodge Nature Center
Dodge Nature Center has been serving the Twin Cities for over 50 years with a mission to bring people closer to nature and provide educational opportunities in the great outdoors. Please bring your family to Dodge Nature Center and embark on a journey of discovery through its diverse landscapes of prairies, woodlands, and wetlands. Meet farm animals, witness the majesty of raptors, and come face to face with local wildlife.
With trails open every day of the year, from sunrise to sunset, your family can explore and connect with nature free of charge. Take a hike on the 5.0-km loop trail near West St. Paul, Minnesota, which is generally considered an accessible route. This trail is perfect for families who love birding, hiking, and walking and offers a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. Please note that dogs and bikes are not allowed on this trail.
What are the best hiking and nature trails in the Twin Cities for kids and families?
Families have a lot of beautiful places to visit, such as Theodore Wirth Park, Fort Snelling State Park, and Dodge Nature Center.
Are dogs permitted on Twin Cities hiking and nature trails?
It varies for each park; for example, Theodore Wirth Park permits dogs on its paths, whereas Dodge Nature Center does not. Therefore, confirming with each park before taking your pet there is best.
Are there any fees for hiking and nature trails in the Twin Cities?
Most parks don’t have an entrance fee, but it’s wise to double-check with each park to be sure.
What types of wildlife can families encounter in the Twin Cities on nature trails?
A wide range of wildlife can be found in the Twin Cities, including bald eagles, beavers, farm animals, and native species like deer and foxes.
What are the age restrictions for kids to hike these trails?
There is no age restriction, but because the hiking and nature trails vary in difficulty, families should pick one appropriate for their children’s age and skill level.
What are the recommended safety precautions for hiking these trails with kids and families?
It is advised to dress appropriately, pack lots of water, use sunscreen, and stick to approved pathways. Additionally crucial are telling someone about your trekking intentions and carrying a first aid bag.
Are there any facilities available on these trails?
Restrooms, picnic spots, and other amenities might be available on some routes, but it’s advisable to double-check ahead of time or pack additional supplies if needed.
Wrap-Up: The Best Hiking and Nature Trails for Kids and Families in Twin Cities
The Twin Cities, Minnesota, emerge as one of the best locations for kids and families seeking a well-rounded hiking experience. The area boasts the best mix of nature reserves, state parks, and trails. Remember that facilities in state parks require a pass to access them.
You have two options for purchasing passes – a daily pass for $7 or an annual pass for $35. The annual pass can be purchased here or at most state park visitor centers for the same price.