Twin Cities Mom Collective

5 Twin Cities Nature Centers for Family Snowshoeing

winter guide


It is officially winter in Minnesota. You know the drill. Sledding and snow angels and hockey, oh my! But maybe your family has done all that and you’re looking for a change of scenery. It’s time to bundle up and go for a hike!

Hike in the winter through all that snow? Sure! Many of our favorite spots for hiking in spring, summer, and fall are also incredible trails for winter exploring. Venturing out into the Twin Cities Metro’s many nature areas for snowshoeing is a great way to explore and exercise in the middle of Minnesota’s snowy winter.

If you are new to snowshoeing and want to try it out, each of these locations offers rental options for your family. You just might find you love it so much you’ll want to add snowshoes to the gift lists next year!

Be sure to check out our Twin Cities Guide to Winter Fun for lots more to do this season!


Tamarack Nature Center | 5287 Otter Lake Road White Bear Township, MN 55110

A favorite location for summer fun is also a wonderful choice in winter and that is Tamarack Nature Center in White Bear Lake. This park is the only one in the entire county parks system with a designated snowshoe trail. There are different options for skill levels or terrain and the people at the Visitor Center are happy to give you guidance. Tamarack Nature Center also offers private and semi-private winter recreation lessons for you to enjoy with your family.

Rental: All ages, two hours, $12. Can be made online or upon arrival. 

photo: Rachel Nevergall


Afton State Park | 6959 Peller Avenue South Hastings, MN 55033

On the eastern side of the Twin Cities, it’s the scenic overlooks of the St. Croix River that make Afton State Park a great choice for snowshoeing. Afton State Park has 4 miles of snowshoe-designated trails and another 6 miles of winter hiking trails. Start at the Visitor Center to rent snowshoes and learn about the trail system. And bring your sled, too, to try out the sledding hill as a post-hike reward!

Rental: $6 for all ages at the visitor center. 

Fort Snelling State Park | 6959 Peller Avenue South Hastings, MN 55033

Fort Snelling State Park is one of the Twin Cities’ best-kept secrets. Tucked between highways and neighborhoods and the airport, I am always surprised by how quiet and peaceful it is on the trails of this state park. The winter is the perfect time to hike the trails with the family. Pike Island is a fun place to explore on or off the trails with kids. Start at the visitor center to find out what is happening at the park that day and rent snowshoes. 

Rental: $6 for all ages at the visitor center. 

Minnesota Valley Natural Wildlife Refuge | 3815 American Boulevard East Bloomington, MN 55425

I first learned about the incredible opportunities at this Wildlife Refuge from my daughter when she was in Kindergarten. Her class made a visit to the refuge in every season to watch how the area changed with the seasons. Wintertime was a favorite because the frozen temperatures offered chances to explore places you couldn’t in the warmer months, like on top of frozen swamps. Snowshoe rental is free at the visitor center, which is also a great place to start your exploration. Grab some binoculars while you are there, too!

Rental: FREE at the visitor center. 

photo: Rachel Nevergall



Richardson Nature Center | 3815 American Boulevard East Bloomington, MN 55425

Richardson Nature Center is another great place to start your snowshoe adventure just minutes from the city. Programs and family events are offered year-round. Beautiful snowshoe trails winding in and around the ponds provide so much winter wildlife spotting. The visitor center is also very fun and a great place to warm up before or after your hike.

Rental: $6 for 2 hours, available online or in person.

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