An urban immersion into nature, best describes the top hiking trails in Minneapolis. On a nice day each on of them can get congested, but if you arrive early enough in the day you will likely beat the crowd.

Hiking is one of our hobbies for a ton of reasons. We get to take our pups, we get exercise, fresh air, clear the mind, and it’s scenic. What more could we want?

Minnehaha Lower Glen Trail is the most scenic Top Hiking Trails in Minneapolis

Minnehaha Lower Glen Trail is a little over 2 miles of dirt trails. It begins at the gorgeous Minnehaha Falls and follows either side of Minnehaha Creek all the way down to the Mississippi River.

To access this hike you will need to be able to travel up/down a plethora of stairs. There are multiple staircases near Minnehaha Falls to descend into the glen.

Along the way there there are multiple historic stone bridges to allow you access to the path across the creek. You will also see Godfrey Mill Ruins, a natural wading pool, and limestone bluffs.

The sandy beach head is where Minnehaha Creek flows into the Mississippi River. This would be a perfect place to hang out on a beautiful day. This is our favorite of the top hikng trails in Minneapolis.

Click here to see more photos along the trail

Winchell Trail is the Oldest Top Hiking Trail in Minneapolis

Just off of West River Parkway you will find the Winchell Trail. This trail is unknown to many city residents keeping it fairly low key and secluded.

Formerly, the Winchell trail was an Indian trail making it the oldest hiking path in Minneapolis therefore it had to make the list of the top hiking trails in Minneapolis.

Trek along the Mississippi river gorge on this 5 mile out and back hike with approximately 500 feet of elevation gain. It starts near the Franklin Ave bridge and ends close to Minnehaha Park (44th Ave).

The mostly unpaved path winds up and down the gorge along the Mississippi River. At times, it meets up with the sidewalk on the parkway and other time it dips down to the river. Frequently, there will be multiple trails to choose from. You can’t go wrong with any of them.

It has a few other entrances in between, along the Parkway. If you spy a long staircase, it’s likely going down to this pathway. Some of the entrances are even disguised as a regular sidewalk on the Grand Rounds Scenic Byway.

Bicycles are not permitted along the Winchell Trail, but many of the entrances have a rack to lock up your bike as you check it out.

Click here for more photos of the Winchell Trail

Theodore Wirth Park is the Longest Top Hiking Trails of Minneapolis

Just west of downtown is Theodore Wirth Park. It is close to the same size of Central Park in New York City, making it the largest in the Minneapolis Park system.

There are miles of trails for hiking, biking, cross country skiing, and snow shoeing. June through September they have a stunning wildflower garden and a beach to get your tan on. The multiple golf courses also provide a well groomed look and feel to the nature inside the park.

In the spring, it gets quite muddy especially in the “Quaking Bog”, but I assume it’s muddy there most of the year. There are many paved trails that I would stick to if you are visiting in the Spring.

Anytime of year is great at this park, solidifying the fact that this is one of the top hiking trails in Minneapolis. In the winter they have a tow rope for more efficient snow tubing with the kiddos. There are groomed trails for hiking on the snow and a chalet to warm up.

Click here to see more photographs

Mill Ruins Park is a Sidewalk Trail

Next to the Mississippi River and the Stone Arch Bridge is a piece of history in Minneapolis. I’m not sure I would consider this a hike, but there are an abundance of paths to see all the cool downtown scenery. If you walk all of the sidewalks it’s an urban Adventure.

In 2001, the City of Minneapolis opened up Mill Ruins Park to show a glimpse into the importance the flour mills had to our city.

From the perspective of the park, the mist of the raging St. Anthony Falls is on display. Also, take in the intricate detail of the stone in the archways beneath the bridge.

If you want to learn more take the tour of the lock and dam or visit the Mill City Museum.

Click here to see more photos

Sidewalk Treks in Minneapolis

Minneapolis has 13 lakes that are 5 acres or greater. The largest 5 lakes in Minneapolis make up the chain of lakes, and are a portion of the Grand Rounds Scenic Byway. Many of the lakes have sidewalks encircling the water.

There are a ton of scenic spots throughout the city that do not include the lakes. The Midtown Greenway and Minnehaha Creek run passed some of the lakes. The creek creates Minnehaha Falls and ends in the Mississippi River.

The Longfellow Garden and the Lyndale Park Rose Garden is in full bloom June through September.

Downtown also has many fantastic free things to see. St. Anthony Falls, the Stone Arch BridgeMill Ruins ParkNicollet Island, and Gold Medal Park, to name a few.

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31 thoughts on “Top Hiking Trails in Minneapolis

  1. Beautiful paths! I’m not a hiking person, but I was able to do a few back in the day. Not all paths are pretty and easy, but you’ll forget the struggle once you get to the scenic areas along the journey.

  2. Thanks for sharing these beautiful trails. I absolutely love hiking and checking out new spots. It is something we’ve enjoyed as a family since my kids were babies. Now they are ages 12-19 and we still love getting out and hitting the trails together. Fresh air and nature’s beauty do wonders for the soul.

  3. Now that the weather is warner, I cannot wait to get out and check out some of these hikes – Maybe even this weekend if Ryan is open? I used to love to walk around Mill City Ruins and by St Anthony Main when some of my friends lived over there. You have quite a few on here I have never done before though!

  4. This looks so different than where I am hiking on the east coast. I love to see the different terrain. Thank you for sharing.

  5. I am use to of walking and running on desert sand dunes, these rivers, parks and hiking are totally different, so love to read these posts to get much fun and learnings… Thanks for great sharing!

  6. Over the years I have learned the pleasure of hiking, because it is an effort that always gives immense emotions and scenarios.

  7. I have never gone hiking. I do walking and running but it sounds very interesting after reading your post. It is a great way to reconnect with nature!

  8. Aweesome!!! we really love going on hikes!! These ones look awesome!! will have to make a note

  9. So cool! Each trail is so different and bring something unique to look at. I’ve only been to the larger cities in Minnesota, but never here. Gorgeous trails!

  10. My partner and I are planning to road trip soon, Minneapolis was going to be one of our stops. We love to hike so we’ll have to check these trails out!

  11. I’ve never been to minneapolis when in the US. You’ve listed some great hikes here, they look picturesque.

    1. Yea Amber, practices vary area to area, here in my area there are so many sand dunes, is this summer when temperature is at 45, sand gets temp very fastly ……. any way If I’m in this area, I also need to start hiking…

  12. Minneapolis looks so pretty, I was supposed to be there right now at this time of year but covid-19 happened. It looks a perfect trail….

  13. I did not know that there were so many hiking trails in Minneapolis. If I am going that way, maybe I’ll stop by one day and try one or possibly a few of them.

  14. I started to appreciate hiking now that I moved here in Australia. I guess hiking is normal here 🙂
    Thanks for sharing this trail. I reckon your dogs loves it!

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