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Minnesota is known as the land of 10,000 lakes, and with that comes over 20,000 trails to hike. Every town has some type of gorgeous trail to explore with unique features. We are always looking to explore new Minneapolis hikes, North Shore hikes and MN hikes in general! We bring to you some of our favorite hiking trails and spots that wind along rivers, have scenic overlooks or that lead you to a majestic waterfall. No matter what season it is in Minnesota, hiking with a view is always an option!

We will be adding new hikes as the summer goes, so consider this a rolling list. I will repost the blog each time a new hike is added!

An encouraging message we found at Caron Falls.

I also recommend buying a MN State Park annual vehicle permit pass. It is $35 per year and will save you time and money! You can order yours by clicking here.

  1. Grand Portage State Park- Trail to High Rise Falls

If you are wanting an easier hike minus the rough terrain, Grand Portage State Park offers that with it’s paved trails. You can hike up to 6 miles of trail along Pigeon River that leads to High Rise Falls. There are a variety of scenic overlooks allowing you to view the falls however you please. If you are going on a road trip along Highway 61, consider this the fireworks at the end of show.

Click here to view a map of Grand Portage trails.

Are you looking to plan a visit to the North Shore MN or in search of other great hikes in MN? Check out some of these posts below to plan your next adventure!

2. Nerstrand Big Woods State Park- Lily Trout Trail to Hidden Falls

Nerstrand hosts one of the most beautiful hikes in southern Minnesota, especially during fall time. They have a lovely campsite that is a close hike to Hidden Falls. Nerstrand Big Woods State Park is also home to over 200 species of wildflower and ferns and mushrooms. We like to walk along Trout Lily Board Walk, with the endangered Minnesota Dwarf Trout Lily lining the trails during spring time. Trout Lily Board Walk will also lead you to Hidden Falls. How high the falls are always depends on the rain of course as it comes out of Prairie Creek.

Opposite from the Hidden Falls area is White Oak Trail Bridge, which is a short walk from the main parking area. This bridge has a great view of the ravine and trees below. It is also a very easy trail to hike, so all are welcome to enjoy it.

Click here to view more trails from Nerstand Big Woods State Park.

3. Carley State Park- Wildflower Trail

I love Carley State Park for two reasons: 1) It is one of the least traveled state parks in MN, so if you are looking for solitude, you have come to the right place 2) It has beautiful wildflowers late spring time- particularly Virginia Blue Bells that cover the forest floor. There are various trails you can experience at Carley State Park, but Wildflower Trail is over favorite. It is an easy hike until you get to the stone river crossing. From there, the trail winds uphill so you can have a scenic overlook of the park. Camping for the park usually starts Memorial weekend.

Click here for more information on Carley State Park’s Trail System.

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4. Great River Bluffs State Park- Guided Trail to Scenic Overlook

The scenic overlook of the Mississippi River Valley.

Anytime of year is a great time to visit the Great River Bluffs. Our favorite is particularly in late September when the fall colors are the most vibrant. Containing over six and a half miles worth of trails, the favorite trail of many leads to the scenic overlook of the Mississippi River Valley. There are benches along the way to take a break if needed. This trail is mostly easy, but it does have steep drop offs, so I recommend keeping your little ones close. A fun fact? The site of the overlook has a wooden selfie stick that can be used for one of the best family portraits ever!

5. Grand Marais- Gunflint Trail Hike to Pincushion Mountain Overlook

During spring time, you can walk gunflint trail for the beautiful views and to explore the wildflowers along the way. We completed a 3 mile hike to Pincushion Mountain overlook and it was well worth the hike! The first two miles were on a dirt trail that was pretty even. When we got towards the end, it became rocky and we had to do some climbing. However, the view is worth the hike!

Find other exciting things to do along Gunflint Trail here.

6. Redwing’s He Mni Can- Barn Bluff Hike

Barn Bluff is one of the most well-known markers along the upper Mississippi River. Considered a hot spot for photography with the beautiful scenic options it provides, it’s a hot spot for natural enthusiasts and tourists passing through. We walked many trails in this area and eventually hiked to the top to experience a stunning view of Red Wing.

7. Grand Marais- Judge C.R. Magney State Park- Hike to Devil’s Kettle

Judge C.R. Magney State Park is also the home of Brule River and the Devil’s Kettle Falls. As you enter the nine-mile trail system, you are able to view the rapids of Brule River on the bridge. One of my most memorable things about Judge C.R. Magney State Park is the amount of stairs you have to climb-so be prepared! The view is worth it as you can view the falls from a variety of areas. Devil’s Kettles falls are so powerful you will get misted- which may feel great considering you had a major workout to get there!

Click here to plan your visit to Judge C.R. Magney State Park!

8. Ramsey Park – Hike to Redwood Falls

Ramsey Park is one of the most family-friendly experiences you can find. Not only do you have access to a number of trails that are relatively easy to hike, but you also can visit a zoo, let the kids enjoy multiple playgrounds, utilize the beautiful campground under the trees and stroll some of the neatest trails. Some of the neat trails include the old road through Ramsey Park that goes through the river and the swinging bridge. Of course, one of the highlights is the overlook of Redwood Falls which is just as impressive as any others I have seen!

Plan your visit to Ramsey Park today!

9. Mankato- Minneopa State Park- Hike to Minneopa Falls

A short trail down a limestone staircase into the Minnesota Valley and across and old bridge offers access to Minneopa Falls. I have gone here several times with my kids and there are so many panoramic views of the falls depending on where you want to view them (from the overlook, up close and personal, from by the river). A fair warning- mosquitoes and gnats are bad most places in Minnesota during summer time, but I have found they are especially bad here. I suggest visiting early spring time, fall and winter.

Plan your visit to Minneopa State Park here!

10. St. Charles- Chimney Rock Trail at White Water State Park

Whitewater State Park is one of my favorite places for camping. Not only do they have beautiful, convenient camp sites with nice showers, but feature Oxbow beach, tubing down Whitewater River, Trout fishing, cool bridges and various trails with wonderful overlooks in the bluff area. One of their most known trails is Chimney Rock trail (named after a rock that resembles a Chimney) offering a hike up the limestone to a scenic bluff overlook.

Plan your visit to Whitewater State Park today!

11. Faribault- Hike the Trails at the Riverbend Nature Center

The Riverbend Nature Center is one of my favorite southern Minnesota hiking spots for many reasons. They have a variety of types of trails. Some are in the woods up hills, along the riverside or through the grassy meadow. Early spring time is one of my favorite times of the year to visit because of the wildflowers in bloom. Especially in the grassy meadow area- this place is like a dream! Also, this is very family-friendly place with the trails an easy hike. A great place to take the family for a picnic or even a casual hike.

Visit the Riverbend Nature Center!

12. Owatonna- Hike the Trails at Kaplans Woods Parkway

Kaplan’s Woods Parkway is near and dear to my heart because it is in my hometown. Kaplan’s is a great place for an easy family hike, view the wildflowers during the spring, snowshoe or ski in the winter, access mountain bike trails and so much more! There are several trails that you can hike, with the main one running along Straight River. In the spring time, there are many areas that flood after it rains, so I am always mindful of that when planning a visit!

Learn more about Kaplan’s Woods Parkway here.

13. Silver Bay- Tettegouche State Park trails

One of my favorite State Parks is Tettegouche because it offers a variety of beautiful, unique areas in one spot. First, there is an overlook at Shovel Point which is a 20 minute walk from the visitor center. If you want to see the tallest waterfalls within Minnesota, you can navigate a hike to Baptism River. If you have kids with, they might enjoy skipping rocks or playing riverside at the Baptism River Mouth, just a short stroll from the visitor’s center. Just down stream from High Falls, you can find even MORE waterfalls (named Two Step Falls) which flows into a pool. For stunning views, there is the infamous Palisades Head Overlook (neat fact- this was formed by a volcanic eruption!). Use caution with kids in this area, as it is very high up with cliff sides not guarded by anything. Tettegouche campsites can also be worth checking out if you are looking for a neat place to camp.

Plan your visit to Tettegouche State Park here!

14. Lutsen- Cascade River State Park

If you are limited on time and have to pick and choose parks and waterfalls to visit, I urge you to choose Cascade River State Park. One of the most natural and rugged areas, it offers some of the most beautiful scenic overlook and gorge views I have seen on the North Shore. Once again, I do caution the trails are rugged, steep and go along the Cascade River.

While Cascade River is known for it’s root beer float-like water falls (and walking bridge to get the best view of the falls!), my family’s favorite thing to do is to hike to the Cascade River Mouth. It’s very shallow in this area before it gets deep under the bridge. You can actually see exactly where the Cascade River meets Lake Superior as there is a difference in color. My kids love to skip rocks and watch the fish swim around in this area. Across from the entrance of Cascade River State Park is a wooded area that is actually part of the park. We were able to stop in for a picnic, but leave with a new , less populated spot to explore.

Plan your visit to Cascade State Park!

15. Nerstrand’s Caron Park- Hike to Caron Falls

One of Minnesota’s hidden gems includes not one but TWO waterfalls! Caron Falls at Caron Park in Nerstrand, Minnesota is actually an old part of the Big Woods State Park. It is a secluded area of it’s own that features Caron falls with a lovely bridge that goes over the top of the stream. To the side, there is a set of smaller falls. The trails are more rough since it is secluded with a steep incline. At the top of the incline are beautiful boulders painted in rainbow colors that you can walk through. This is one of our favorite places to go in southern Minnesota.

If you plan to visit any of these sites or have your own favorites to share, please comment below! Make sure to take a picture at your favorite site & tag us in your Instagram story @thetravelingwildflowerr .

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