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Outdoor Activities

Hit the Trails in Minnesota’s Sweet Spot

One of the best parts about our area is all the beautiful nature that surrounds it. These are our favorite trails to get outside and enjoy the sunshine — on foot or on two wheels!

September 14, 2021

Cedar Lake Trail in the fall alongside of a train with a view of Minneapolis

All told, St. Louis Park and Golden Valley have more than 1,800 acres of nature combined. And with those acres comes miles of trails that are perfect for walking, hiking and biking.

From an easy, nature walk to a challenging mountain bike track, you’re sure to find a path that’s right for you. So lace up your walking shoes or grab your bike helmet — it’s time to hit the trails!

woman running on floating boardwalk at nature center

Walking, Running and Hiking

First up on the hiking to-do list is Theodore Wirth Regional Park, a 740-acre park in Golden Valley that features more than 5 miles of trails perfect for hiking and casual nature walks. If you’re looking to learn about some of the native plants and birds in the area, the park is also home to the Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden and Bird Sanctuary, which houses more than 600 plant species and 130 bird species. Feeling adventurous? Hike the park’s Quaking Bog Loop trail, which spans the 5-acre, 3,700-year-old acid bog tucked into the wooded hills of the park. It crosses several boardwalks that float over islands of sphagnum moss.

The next hiking location that also provides fantastic animal-watching opportunities is Westwood Hills Nature Center in St. Louis Park. The 160-acre natural area features marsh, woods and restored prairie. More than 3 miles of trails and walkways provide hikers with can’t-miss opportunities for birdwatching and wildlife spotting. You might see anything from deer and turtles to foxes, minks and owls. Don’t miss the Interpretive Center, where you can explore interactive educational exhibits and see live animals, such as a red-tailed hawk, a barred owl and a flying squirrel.

For a more easy-going stroll, head to Bass Lake Preserve in St. Louis Park. The 52-acre nature preserve is best known for its 1.4-mile George Haun Trail, which meanders through oak savanna and prairie and loops around Bass Lake.

General Mills Nature Preserve in Golden Valley provides a gateway to the city’s trail system, and it’s a suitable area for all skill levels. This stunning natural space spans across 27 acres and varying terrain — from a shallow marsh to wet meadows to floodplain forest. To access more trails, take the preserve’s half-mile trail that connects to the city’s trail system — it has interpretive signs to help guide you through your journey.

two bikers wearing helmets biking through a green trail

Bring on the Bikes

It doesn’t matter whether you prefer cycling, mountain biking or fat tire biking, you’ll find plenty of trails that fit the bill in St. Louis Park and Golden Valley.

For a ride that offers both city and rural vibes, head to Schaper Park in Golden Valley and hop on the Luce Line Regional Trail. A nine-mile section of paved trail travels from Theodore Wirth Regional Park, through Golden Valley and on to Plymouth. The full trail is 63 miles in length and extends west into rural Minnesota, terminating at Thompson Lake in Cosmos. Traveling west, Medicine Lake forms a backdrop to wooden bridges that overlook the Bassett Creek marshlands. The trail then passes through suburbs and wooded stretches, across wetlands, near lakes, through tallgrass prairie remnants, and into the countryside over varying surfaces. To the east, the trail links to the Minneapolis Grand Rounds Scenic Byway trail network and skyline views of Minneapolis.

Feeling bold and ready for adventure? Golden Valley’s Theodore Wirth Regional Park is one of the premier mountain biking locations in the Minneapolis-Saint Paul metro area, boasting more than 12 miles of single-track trails. Beginner and intermediate riders should try out the Area 36 trail, which features a physically demanding but technically easy ride. For expert riders, the Brownie Lake Loop offers quite the adrenaline rush with its steep rock climbs, descents and drops. Pro tip: You can park at The Trailhead and use it as a launching point for your ride.

When you’re in the mood for a peaceful ride, the North Cedar Lake Regional Trail in St. Louis Park is a good bet. The trail technically begins in the nearby town of Hopkins before passing through St. Louis Park’s quaint and quiet neighborhoods. If you want to extend your ride, stay on the trail as it follows the tree-lined railroad passage into Minneapolis and take in the panoramic skyline views.

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