If you’re looking to conquer the great outdoors during your next Twin Cities vacation, the picturesque suburbs of Golden Valley and St. Louis Park offer plenty of adventure and exhilaration. More than 1000 acres in Golden Valley are dedicated parks and nature areas, and with over 50 miles of trails it’s possible to explore them all. Neighboring St. Louis Park also offers a vast array of parks and recreational areas, with seasonal activity options including ice skating and sledding in the winter. This guide offers suggestions for ways to enjoy the Minnesota’s natural beauty during your next trip to these Twin City hamlets.
Walking, Hiking and Biking
Whether you like to take in nature with a hike, bike or leisurely stroll, Golden Valley and St. Louis Park are known for their acres of quaint parks, miles of scenic trails and numerous lush nature areas. Navigating the parks is easy using the St. Louis Park city trail map and the Golden Valley Trail Map, but there are a few areas that no traveler should miss.
- General Mills Nature Preserve (9201 Olson Memorial Highway) is a visually-stunning, 27-acre natural space in Golden Valley. With over 50 different native plants, a shallow marsh, wet meadow, floodplain forest and a half-mile trail that connects to the City’s trail system, there’s so much to see. Interpretive signs will guide you along your journey.
- Located west of the General Mills Research Nature Area, the Golden Ridge Nature Area (9145 Earl Street) in Golden Valley features an asphalt trail that winds through Golden Ridge’s scenic pine forest. The sidewalk at Gettysburg Court connects to 1.7 miles of trails within the General Mills Research Nature Area.
- Laurel Avenue Greenbelt (6900 Laurel Avenue S. at Cortlawn Pond) and (7100 Laurel Ave. S. at East and West Ring Ponds) is a 33-acre natural space surrounding three ponds in the southern part of Golden Valley. Multiple walkways and trails connect to the surrounding neighborhoods.
- Three Rivers Park District manages three different bike trails which run through St. Louis Park. Cedar Lake Trail is a 3.6-mile trail with separate walking and biking lanes connecting to downtown Minneapolis. Cedar Lake Extension Trail is a paved 4.3-mile trail to Southwest trail in Hopkins. The 5-mile paved Cedar Lake Regional Trail follows the rail line along Highway 7 and winds west through Hopkins to Chaska.
Canoeing and Kayaking
It may be known as the land of 10,000 lakes, but Minnesota actually has over 12,000 bodies of water. A visit to the area wouldn’t be complete without experiencing this unique geology. In Golden Valley and St. Louis Park there are many lakes and creeks that can be explored by canoe or kayak.
- Hoigaard’s Paddlesports Rentals (5425 Excelsior Blvd.) in St. Louis Park rents canoes, kayaks, and standup paddleboards seasonally. Watercraft can be rented for use on Minnehaha Creek if the water level and creek flow rates are deemed to be at safe levels.
- Kayak The Creek rents kayaks, complete with paddles, life vests, and dry bags for phones and wallets, for parties of up to 7 kayaks for use on Minnehaha Creek, which flows through St. Louis Park and the neighboring suburbs. Kayaks will be dropped off at your desired launch point and picked up at the end of your 2.5-3 hr journey. Shoreside instruction is provided and guide service is available for an additional fee. Kayakers must be at least 12 with adult supervision.
- Westwood Hills Nature Center offers canoe rentals for use on picturesque Westwood Lake. A 2-hour rental is $20 for visitors, $15 for residents.
- Adeline Nature Area (910 Adeline Lane) has a small canoe launch that’s accessible via a paved trail located in a residential area at the southwest end of Sweeney Lake.
- Sweeney Lake Park (1805 Hidden Lakes Pkwy.) is located within Hidden Lakes residential community and features a small dock and canoe launch for public use.
Lakes, ponds and creeks scattered throughout Golden Valley and St. Louis Park have become popular fishing spots. So, grab your rod, reel and tackle box and get ready to cast out and catch “the big one.”
- Wolfe Lake (Wolfe Park, Monterey Drive and 36th Street West) in St. Louis Park, is a 25-foot deep, 3.3-acre lake with a fishing pier and four shore fishing stations. Fish species include Bluegill, Black Crappie, Largemouth Bass, Northern Pike and Yellow Perch. There is a sheltered picnic area, pavilions, a playground, and restroom.
- Wirth Lake (Theodore Wirth Park, Hwy 55 and Wirth Pkwy.) is a 40-acre, 25-feet deep lake which is located near many neighborhoods, including Golden Valley. The lake contains a large supply of Bluegill, Black Crappie, Largemouth Bass, Northern Pike, and Walleye. There’s a pier on the east side of the lake and several shoreline fishing spots just north of it.
- Lamplighter Pond (Pennsylvania Avenue and 16th Street West) in St. Louis Park is a small, 6-feet deep, 8.2-acre pond houses a plentiful supply of Bluegill, Black Crappie, and Common Carp. There’s a fishing pier on the west shore of the pond and a walking path.
Skating and Sledding
Winter sports enthusiasts have plenty to do in St. Louis Park, which is home to several parks with outdoor skating and hockey rinks, some of which are lighted and feature a warming house like Birchwood Park and Oak Hill Park. Browndale Park and Oak Hill Park also have lighted sledding hills.