If you’re dog’s barking “Where can I find dog-friendly hikes near me?” then let us let you in on a little secret. Our great state is doggone full of beautiful state parks and fantastic hiking trails. Tons of ’em are pup-friendly, too, which provides you and your furry companion with year-round walking, sniffing, and nature-enjoying opportunities! Sniff out 13 of our favorite dog-friendly hikes in Minnesota to find a dog-friendly hiking trail near you.
Tips For Hiking With Dogs
Before hitting the trail, make sure you’re prepared with hiking essentials for your pup. Woof to the wise: always keep your pooches on a standard, non-retractable leash and clean up after ’em. Brush up on our Good Dog’s Guide to Hiking Etiquette to make sure you’re following the rules of the trail.
Minnesota Dog-Friendly Hiking Trails
We polled our Dog-Friendly Twin Cities Facebook Group on their favorite dog-friendly hikes in Minnesota. Here are the top 13.
1. Whitetail Woods Regional Park, Farmington
Close enough to the Twin Cities to enjoy on a weeknight, Whitetail Woods Regional Park gives you a great opportunity to enjoy our state’s natural beauty without going far from home. Its peaceful, wide-open vibe makes this park well worth the short trip.
2. Quarry Park and Nature Preserve, St. Cloud
This beautiful, 600-acre country park features fantastic hiking trails, plus 20 abandoned granite quarries to keep you and your pup in awe of the natural beauty while you walk (and talk, if you’re the type) together. Quarry Park and Nature Preserve is one stop that pup’s gonna be beggin’ to come back to.
3. Ely’s Peak, Duluth
Love hiking to tall places but think the Twin Cities’ options fall short? Here’s a compromise: take your pup to Ely’s Peak, standing at a little over a thousand feet in elevation, and enjoy your mutual sense of accomplishment. You can tell people you reached the summit—they’ll probably be impressed.
4. Louisville Swamp, Louisville Township
This spot emerged as one of the favorites in our pack, and for good reason: the easy, 2.8-mile loop features beautiful river views and local wildlife. It’s not called a swamp for nothing; water levels do rise often. A Facebook Group member recommends inflatable rafts if you visit Louisville Swamp!
5. Tettegouche State Park, Silver Bay
This massive park incorporates many of the features that make our state a national treasure: access to Lake Superior’s coast, the mouth of the Baptism River, hardwood forests, and so much more. Tettegouche State Park is a must-doo!
6. Grand Portage State Park, Grand Portage
Located along the US-Canada border, Grand Portage State Park features a 120-foot waterfall, plus short and long hiking trails that’ll allow you and your pup to take in a ton of Minnesotan beauty. You might even catch the scent of maple syrup drifting over the border.
7. Glacial Lakes State Park, Starbuck
The North Shore gets a lot of love when hiking opportunities come up, but the western half of the state has some great spots, too. Take your pal for a jaunt through the rolling prairie and trademark lake-centric beauty that Glacial Lakes State Park has to offer.
8. Montissippi Regional Park, Monticello
Best known for its stunning pines, Montissippi Regional Park sports plenty of paved and unpaved trails. If your pup is looking for a pine-scented photo opp, this park is for you.
9. Willow River State Park, Hudson, WI
Okay, we’ll admit we cheated by including a spot in Wisconsin, but this one was the pick of the litter among our audience. And for good reason, too: located right on the border, this large park includes hiking trails of varying lengths and difficulty levels. Oh, and did we mention the series of beautiful, wade-able waterfalls at Willow River State Park? Ah, pup yeah!
10. Fort Snelling State Park, St. Paul
Another local fan favorite, Fort Snelling State Park features 18 miles of scenic, Insta-worthy hiking trails located practically right in your backyard. Be sure to check out Pike Island if you get the chance; you’ll be rewarded by getting to hike in the very spot where the Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers meet.
11. Lebanon Hills Regional Park, Eagan
The largest park in Dakota County, Lebanon Hills Regional Park contains 2,000 sprawling acres with prairie, lakes, forest, and miles of dog-friendly trails! Just keep an eye out for extra lanky dogs—we hear they call them horses?
12. Banning State Park, Sandstone
Banning State Park is located just over an hour north of the Twin Cities Metro along the bluffs at the edge of the Kettle River. Enjoy over 17 miles of trails with a variety of hike challenges. If floof’s feeling feisty, give the Hell’s Gate Trail a gander (woof to the wise: it’s rocky!).
13. Whitewater State Park, Altura
Thinking about puppin’ down south? Doggo’ll ruv Whitewater State Park. Start at the visitor’s center and make your trek down Coyote Point Trail for drool-worthy views of the Whitewater River Valley.
There you have it, nature-lovers. This state has so much beauty to offer to humans and pups alike. And if you want more, check out our guide to paved walking trails in the Twin Cities, the best Twin Cities winter hikes, or these sniff-worthy waterfalls. Did we miss your favorite dog-friendly hikes? Woof at us in the comments or tag @SidewalkDog in your Insta-adventures!
Featured photo: @endeaversofego
Sidewalk Dog’s mission is to help dog parents spend more time with their puppers by discovering and sharing activities they can do and places they can go—together! Sniff out our award-winning newsletter and Instagram, join our Dog-Friendly Twin Cities Facebook Group, and grab one of our Dog-Friendly Brewery Passes.
Great ideas! Getting a little tired of seeing dogs off leash in public places, though.
These look great and I agree with Kate. All the photos are of off-leash dogs. Let’s use our non-retractable leashes when we bring our pups to the state parks.
These comments are a year old, and I can’t speak for these three photos, but I know some of the dogs in other photos Sidewalk Dog has used the Instagram photos of, and the photographers digitally remove the leashes. My dog has had photos taken in quite a few public parks, ALWAYS on leash, but to make for better photo quality it’s taken out for the photo. Heck, in some photos our photographers have digitally removed me standing next to him holding the leash!
Let’s leave the leashes in the photos to model correct behavior!
I was looking for some information to create an infographic on Hiking with dogs and came across your site.
Very informative and thanks for taking the effort. After completing the infographics., I would like to share it.
Thanks for the information! I’m from the Duluth and know the North Shore well, but still learning what is around the Twin Cities that gets us out of the city. I appreciate all the info and all of the happy dogs! Keep pup the good work!
Thanks so much, Maria! We are so glad you enjoy the content. Let us know if there’s anything in pawticular you’d like us to write about.