Every year after all the festive parties and holiday events wind down, my family seems to crave the simplicity of a winter walk. It feels especially fitting to usher in a New Year with the magic and wonder of a Minnesota winter.
Looking to find a little peace and magic this winter? Why not check out some of these amazing parks for a Wintry Family Hike? The fresh air and winter views are the perfect cure for cabin fever.
Afton State Park | 6959 Peller Avenue South, Hastings, MN 55033
Situated along the St. Croix River, this park is the perfect spot to enjoy amazing winter views. There are at least 11 miles of designated snowshoe trails available for hiking and another 2 miles of designated hiking trails. Start at the visitor center and try the South River Trail for an easy family-friendly hike.
Battle Creek Regional Park | 75 Winthrop St. South, Saint Paul, MN 55119
During the winter months, many of the asphalt trails and sidewalks of this park are plowed for walking, hiking, biking, and jogging. There are also an additional five miles of trails within the park not plowed, but great for hiking or snowshoeing. As you wind along the Mississippi River, you might see deer, foxes, herons, egrets, or hawks.
Elm Creek Park Reserve | 12400 James Deane Parkway, Maple Grove, MN 55369
At 4,900 acres, this is the largest park in the Three Rivers Park District, crossing Maple Grove, Dayton, and Champlin. You’ll find 5 miles of multi-use trails at this park in the winter. Start at the Eastman Nature Center to begin your hike and choose your energy level for the day.
Lake Bde Maka Ska | 3130 W Bde Maka Ska Blvd, Minneapolis, MN 55416
Hike on a lake? If it’s frozen, then yes! This is one of our favorite winter activities. There are so many lakes to choose from in Minnesota, 10,000 or so to be exact. We love checking out Lake Bde Maka Ska in the winter because the views of the city are always stunning. No matter how many times we have done this, it still feels like magic to walk on water. Also, it’s HUGE!! With the wide open spaces, kids feel the freedom to run while parents can still keep an eye on them. Be sure to check out up-to-date information on DNR websites to be certain ice is safe for walking.
Lebanon Hills Regional Park | 860 Cliff Rd, Eagan, MN 55123
Many love this park for its cross-country ski opportunities but it’s also great for winter hiking. With more than 14 miles of trails designated for hiking and snowshoeing, there is plenty of room for your family to explore the lakes and wooded trails.
Minnesota Landscape Arboretum | 3675 Arboretum Dr, Chaska, MN 55318
Don’t mistake this popular garden as just a summer destination. The arboretum is also a perfect place for winter walks. Eight miles of looping trails groomed for hiking and snowshoeing and several more miles of un-groomed trails. Hikers also can walk on Three-Mile Drive, which is closed to vehicles during the winter.
Minnehaha Regional Park | 4801 S Minnehaha Dr, Minneapolis, MN 55417
Nature becomes art in winter when the popular 53-foot waterfall freezes and turns into an icy sculpture. But there is more to this park than just the falls. Wind through more than three miles of paved trails that are plowed during winter, or explore the park’s more remote and interior trails that follow the creek to the river. The Mississippi River valley brings its own magical winter experience sure to entertain your small hikers.
Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge | 3815 American Blvd E, Bloomington, MN 55425
Long Meadow Lake in Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge is a great location to spot birds during a winter hike. Stop by the visitor center to borrow binoculars to help your hunt. Be aware, some areas may be closed during peak bird migration, or due to maintenance or management activities. You can check conditions at the visitor centers, call 952-854-5900 from 9 am to 4 pm, check the trail report page, or watch for closure and warning signs at trailheads.