Two adults and a child walking on a snowy trail lined on both sides with luminaries

Warm Up to Winter on Candlelight Trails

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Candlelight walk, Gateway State Trail, Mahtomedi, photo courtesy of Minnesota DNR
Things to Do // Article

Warm Up to Winter on Candlelight Trails

By Amy Barrett

One of the most beautiful and memorable ways to experience a winter night in Minnesota is to explore its scenic trails by candlelight. At the following special events, you can enjoy cross-country skiing, snowshoeing or hiking with trailside luminaries (candles or lanterns) lighting the way. On clear nights, a full moon and twinkling stars may shed even more light on your outdoor adventure.

These events are suitable for all ages and ability levels. The candle-lit trails are generally only a mile or two in length and mostly flat. Often, there will also be a bonfire where you can warm up, enjoy some hot chocolate or cider and maybe toast a marshmallow or two.

Many of the candlelight events taking place in the coming months are listed here. Check back periodically for updates. More events will be added as dates and locations are confirmed. Finally, don’t miss the “Know Before You Go” section at the end.







  • In case of severe weather, events may be changed or canceled. Check the website or call to confirm before heading out.
  • If there is insufficient snow, ski and snowshoe events may become candlelight walks.
  • Vehicle permits are required at state parks. Save time and avoid lines by getting yours online prior to the event.
  • Skiers age 16 and older need to have a ski pass with them when using groomed trails at Minnesota state parks and trails.
  • Skis and snowshoes may be rented or checked out at some locations. Call ahead to confirm availability and, if possible, to reserve the equipment you need.
Amy Barrett

Amy Barrett is a Twin Cities freelance writer. She enjoys camping, hiking, biking and paddling and has visited all of Minnesota’s state parks with her husband and three sons.