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7 Awesome ATV Trails in Minnesota

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Ride next to the river on the ATV trails near Thief River Falls / Textron Arctic Cat

7 Awesome ATV Trails in Minnesota

By Joe Albert

Getting on the trail and squeezing the throttle, ATV riders can leave civilization behind and witness wild places—not to mention the birds, deer and other creatures that call these areas home.

Minnesota boasts dozens of trails for all-terrain vehicle riders. Opportunities exist for riders throughout Minnesota, with the majority of trails clustered in the northern part of the state. There are trails to match every skill level, from flat and open trails that cater to beginners, to narrow, winding trails that will challenge even the most experienced riders.

Here are seven of the most popular ATV trails in Minnesota:

  1. Appleton Area Recreational Park
    Appleton Area Recreational Park

    In a past life, Appleton was a gravel mine. These days it's a massive, 330-acre OHV park with 20 miles of trails that cater to riders of all skill levels. With technical and beginner-friendly ATV trails, a motocross practice track, rock climbs and a water pit for getting muddy, Appleton Area Recreational Park is a destination for riders in southwestern Minnesota and beyond. The city of Appleton even allows ATVs to travel on select, posted roads.

  2. Forest Riders Trail
    Two ATVs beside the Paul Bunyan State Forest trail

    Explore the Paul Bunyan State Forest on an ATV

    Forest Riders Trail

    The 100-mile Forest Riders Trail is exactly what you'd think it is: a tour of some of Minnesota's scenic, remote state forests. These four, to be exact: Two Inlets, Smoky Hills, Paul Bunyan and White Earth. Starting near Park Rapids, the trail has a little bit of everything, from gently curving forest roads to more challenging terrain. Stay overnight at campsites in the Paul Bunyan and Two Inlets state forests, or at any of the many area resorts and hotels.

  3. Fourtown-Grygla Trail
    Fourtown-Grygla Trail

    At a whopping 170 miles, the Fourtown-Grygle is among the state’s longest ATV trails. Much of the trail system follows county roads, ditch banks and existing trails. With generally flat and easy riding, Fourtown-Grygle isn't the most challenging trail in Minnesota—but it's the perfect spot to lay on the gas and test your engine.

  4. Nemadji State Forest Trails
    Nemadji State Forest Trails

    With more than 200 miles of trails found within its 92,000 acre boundaries, the Nemadji State Forest is home to one of Minnesota's most extensive and diverse ATV trail systems. Most of the forest roads and trails you'll find at Nemadji are open to all types of OHVs, though some are reserved exclusively for Class 1 ATVs or offroad motorcycles. Southern portions of the forest are havens for gentle hills and easy riding, while its northerly trail sections introduce narrow twists, turns and climbs into the mix.

  5. Iron Range Off-Highway Vehicle State Recreation Area
    ATV rider rock crawling at the Iron Range OHV Recreation Area in Gilbert

    ATV rider rock crawling at the Iron Range OHV Recreation Area in Gilbert

    Iron Range Off-Highway Vehicle State Recreation Area

    Considered Minnesota’s premier ATV park, Iron Range is the closest thing we've got to a playground for OHVs. Located in the heart of Minnesota's mining country, in Gilbert, the park's 36 miles of trails run the gamut from 4x4 rock crawls, to sand and mud drags, a tough-truck competition course and multi-purpose event area. Trails range from easy, beginner-friendly romps to some of the most difficult riding you'll find in Minnesota.

  6. Soo Line North Trail
    Soo Line North Trail

    Following an abandoned railroad line, Soo Line North Trail is Minnesota's ultimate ATV connector. The flat and gentle 48-mile trail connects to the Rabey Line Trail, Blind Lake Connector and Loop, Hill City Trail and Lawler Loops. The trail begins in Remer and ends near Cass Lake. It’s common for riders on this trail to see a variety of forest wildlife species.

  7. Spider Lake Trails
    Spider Lake Trails

    Located in the Foot Hills State Forest near Pine River, the 29-mile Spider Lake Trails area is one of Minnesota's most diverse trail networks. Smooth, sandy, rough or rocky; you'll find challenging trails of all kinds at Spider Lake. Because of its diverse array of challenging trails, Spider Lake is a popular place for riders to hone their skills.

Joe Albert

Joe Albert is a Bloomington-based writer who currently works for the Department of Natural Resources. His work has appeared in publications including Outdoor NewsStar Tribune and Field & Stream.