10 Fall Hikes

Hike_MN_logo-05-01-01.pngLooking for a great place to hike in Minnesota this fall? While there are hundreds of wonderful options, these 10 trails stand out for their natural beauty, wide range of scenery and fantastic fall color. From the northeast corner to the southern border, these trails are the perfect places to enjoy nature and get some exercise in the great outdoors. Plan your trip to visit one or all 10 this fall, and find places to stay and other things to do to round out your getaway.

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Northeast
RATES: $7 DAILY, $35 ANNUAL, $26 SECOND VEHICLE, $12 HANDICAPPED

Take a hike on the High Falls and Middle Falls trails at the only Minnesota State Park located within an Indian reservation. Tribal and state flags illustrate the unique partnership at this park, and interpretive displays provide an introduction to the culture and traditions of the Grand Portage Ojibwe people. See Minnesota's highest waterfall—aptly named High Falls—on an easy, 1-mile round-trip hike from the park's visitor center. Or, for more of a wilderness experience, hike all the way to Middle Falls along a rugged trail (lots of rocks and roots, watch your step!).

Trail Map | Panoramic Tour | Snapshot Tour | Bird Checklist

 

Northeast
RATES: DONATION BASED

The remote and stunning Suomi Hills has 19 miles of hiking, biking (unpaved) and ski trails and is part of a semi-primitive non-motorized area. The rolling topography offers mountain bike trails for intermediate and advanced cyclists. The trails runs through rolling hills and lakes, with maple, basswood and aspen forest offering beautiful views of fall foliage. Suomi Hills has an abundance of wildlife. Beaver and loons are common on almost every lake in the area, but grouse, woodcock, deer, bears, bald eagles, osprey, coyotes and timber wolves may also highlight your visit to the beautiful area. The Beaver Pond Trail and Spruce Island Trail, both located on the North Suomi Hills Trailhead, offer easy-to-moderate scenic hikes. Maps along the trails.

Trail Map | Edge of the Wilderness Fall Color Routes Map

 

Northwest
Rates: No fee required, free parking

Dunton Locks County Park is a 53-acre park nestled on the quiet shores of Muskrat Lake and Lake Sallie near Detroit Lakes. The park is accessible by bicycle, inline skates and by foot by using the Fish Hatchery Recreation Trail on West Shore Drive near the Pelican River. This quiet, year-round park contains two picnic shelters, hiking and mountain biking trails (which double as cross-country ski trails in the winter), a paved recreation trail, interpretive signs, two fishing piers, and a mechanical boat tram that transports watercraft between Muskrat Lake and Lake Sallie, allowing boat travel from Detroit Lakes to Shoreham.

Trail Map

 

Northwest
RATES: $7 DAILY, $15-$23 DAILY CAMPING FEES, $55-$70 CAMPER CABINS, $35 ANNUAL, $26 SECOND VEHICLE, $12 HANDICAPPED

Hike the longest boardwalk in America! A mile long (one way), this wheelchair-accessible trail leads through the bog and its many fascinating features. Begin in the park's North Unit at the far end of Ludlow Pond, where you may spot beavers. Along the way, you can see orchids, carnivorous plants, mosses, and a stunted tamarack and spruce forest. At the end of the boardwalk is a viewing platform, benches and binocular viewer. Climb the fire tower for a panoramic view of the fall colors surrounding Upper Red Lake.

Trail Map | Panoramic Tour | Snapshot Tour | Bird Checklist

 

Central
RATES: $7 DAILY, $13-$21 DAILY CAMPING FEES, $55-$70 CAMPER CABINS, $50-$60 YURTS, $35 ANNUAL, $26 SECOND VEHICLE, $12 HANDICAPPED

The 3.3-mile Annie Battle Lake Trail begins and ends at the trail center, but can also be accessed by short spurs from the campground or picnic area. The trail is mostly level throughout, with a surface that varies from hard-packed gravel to grass. Follow the trail as it loops through a hardwood forest around pristine Annie Battle Lake, which has no motorized boat traffic. The trail crosses two creeks and passes by the historic Glendalough Lodge. You may see deer, turkey, bald eagles, loons and other wildlife.

Trail Map | Panoramic Tour | Snapshot Tour | Bird Checklist

 

Central
RATES: NO FEE REQUIRED, FREE PARKING

Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge is a 30,700-acre refuge that protects mixed habitat types including oak savanna, big woods and wetlands. 11,000 sandhill cranes stage on the refuge in late October as they start to gather for migration. The St. Francis River flows through the eastern side of the park. Over 230 species of birds, 58 species of mammals and 25 species of reptiles and amphibians have been recorded in the refuge. The Blue Hill Trail is a 4.9-mile loop that offers magnificent views from two overlooks in the fall. Arrive at sunrise or stay for sunset to see the flocks flying to or from their overnight roost!

Refuge Map | Directions | Nature's Calendar

 

Minneapolis-St. Paul Area
RATES: NO FEE REQUIRED, FREE PARKING

Springbrook Nature Center features 127 acres of stunning forest, wetland and prairie landscapes. Three miles of trails, including a 900-foot-long floating boardwalk, provide access to incredible wildlife including deer, fox, turtles, beavers and a stunning diversity of birds. The state-of-the-art interpretive center features classrooms, beautiful natural vistas, and an interactive exhibit gallery with live animals and endless exploration. The park's oak and aspen provide a colorful backdrop for crisp fall hikes. An open-air picnic pavilion and adjacent nature-based play area allow families to make a full day of exploring and enjoying Springbrook Nature Center.

 

William O'Brien State Park, Marine on St. Croix

Minneapolis-St. Paul Area
RATES: $7 DAILY, $15-$23 DAILY CAMPING FEES, $55-$70 CAMPER CABINS, $35 ANNUAL, $26 SECOND VEHICLE, $12 HANDICAPPED

Riverside Trail, a 1.6-mile accessible trail, starts in the picnic area and winds by majestic 100-year-old pine trees along the St. Croix River, a federally designated Wild and Scenic River. It also goes past Lake Alice, named for the daughter of local lumber baron William O'Brien. In 1945, Alice donated 180 acres to be developed as a state park in her father's memory. Since then, the park has grown to 1,880 acres of prairie, oak savanna, river floodplain and hardwood forest.

Trail Map | Panoramic Tour | Snapshot Tour | Bird Checklist

 

Southern
RATES: $7 DAILY, $15-$23 DAILY CAMPING FEES, $30-$35 TIPIS, $35 ANNUAL, $26 SECOND VEHICLE, $12 HANDICAPPED

Start this hike from the visitor center parking lot. Follow Mound Trail along the east edge of the bison enclosure fence, beyond which you may be able to see the herd. Scramble up Eagle Rock for a view of the Rock River Valley before returning along the Upper Cliffline Trail back to your starting point. If you brought bikes, you can take the paved Blue Mounds Trail into Luverne (10 miles round-trip). Or take a guided tour of the bison range aboard the 12-passenger Prairie Tour Vehicle (weekends only; reservations recommended).

Trail Map | Panoramic Tour | Snapshot Tour | Bird Checklist

 

Southern
RATES: NO FEE REQUIRED, FREE PARKING

Kaplan's Woods Park is a 225-acre park that was dedicated Sept. 12, 1987. It contains over 6 miles of hiking and cross-country skiing trails. Maps along trail. Kaplan's Woods Parkway, a handicap-accessible trail, is a 1.5-mile paved hiking and biking trail connecting Kaplan's Woods Park with Morehouse Park, with views of wildlife and scenic wetlands along the way. Restrooms/facilities can be found at the north trailhead at Morehouse Park.

Trail Map