From trails along the coast of Lake Superior to routes through hardwood forests and over prairie knolls, Minnesota offers abundant hiking opportunities for all ages and abilities. This fall, Minnesota State Parks Director Courtland Nelson encourages families to get outdoors to enjoy the state’s parks and trails, and to take a hike over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.
“There are a number of benefits to hiking this Thanksgiving,” said Nelson. “It’s less expensive and not as crowded as going shopping and you can walk off Thanksgiving dinner alongside friends and family. Plus, now that the leaves have fallen from the trees it’s easier to see wildlife like birds and deer.”
Ranked the “Best Trails State” by the American Trails group, Minnesota has 25 state trails and 76 state parks and recreation areas.
“There’s a Minnesota state park within 30 miles of almost everyone,” said Nelson, “so no matter where you live or celebrate Thanksgiving, the fun is always close by.”
Top 10 parks for hiking:
- Afton State Park.
- Banning State Park.
- Beaver Creek Valley State Park.
- Fort Snelling State Park.
- Frontenac State Park.
- Itasca State Park.
- Jay Cooke State Park.
- Sakatah Lake State Park.
- Temperance River State Park.
- William O’Brien State Park.
Tips for anyone planning to take a hike this weekend include:
- Wear comfortable shoes.
- Dress in layers in case of sudden changes in weather.
- Pick up a trail map at the park office (or print one from the website before leaving).
- Pack a water bottle and healthy snacks.
Special resource management hunts are happening this fall in state parks. For a list of parks that are open, partially open or closed during the 2012 hunting season, visit mndnr.gov (http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/state_parks/hunting.html) or call the DNR Information Center at 651-296-6157or toll-free number, 888-646-6367, between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
The DNR advises anyone planning to visit a state park between now and December to look online or call ahead to find out whether a hunt is planned and confirm whether the park will be open.
The DNR also advises visitors to parks where hunts are planned to wear blaze orange, even if they will not be hunting. Visitors should check for hunt-related information at the park office when they arrive, look carefully for hunt-related signage and follow instructions.
Remember that pets are welcome in Minnesota’s state parks as long as they are kept on a leash of six feet or less and they are attended to at all times. Hearing or seeing-eye dogs or other service animals are the only pets allowed in state park buildings or on tours.
Daily Minnesota state park permits ($5) and year-round permits ($25) are available for purchase at Minnesota state parks. Year-round permits are also available at Twin Cities REI stores or by calling the DNR Information Center at 651-296-6157 or toll-free 888-646-6367 between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Logo courtesy Minnesota Department of Natural Resources