Minnesota’s ATV Trails Cater to All Riders

By Joe Albert

ATV in Thief River Falls_Credit Arctic Cat Inc.
Leave civilization behind and explore Minnesota's wild places on an ATV / Arctic Cat Inc.

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.

Popular Minnesota ATV Trails

ATV rock crawling at the Iron Range ATV Park
Rock crawling at the Iron Range Off-Highway Vehicle State Recreation Area in Gilbert

Appleton Area Recreational Park

Southern Minnesota
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.

Forest Riders Trail

Northwest Minnesota
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.

Fourtown-Grygla Trail

Northwest Minnesota
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.

Iron Range Off-Highway Vehicle State Recreation Area

Northeast Minnesota
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.

Side-by-side ATVs on a forest road near Ely
Side-by-side ATVs are a great choice for forest roads and calmer ATV trails / John Connelly

Nemadji State Forest Trails

Northeast Minnesota
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.

Soo Line North Trail

Central Minnesota
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.

Spider Lake Trails

Central Minnesota
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.

Find more ATV trails and view or order a free copy of the Minnesota ATVentures guide.