If you’re new around here (or haven’t gone exploring lately), 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 11 of our favorite dog-friendly hikes in Minnesota.
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 ten.
1. Whitetail Woods Regional Park, Farmington (map)
Close enough to the Twin Cities to enjoy on a weeknight, Whitetail Woods 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 (map)
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.
3. Ely’s Peak, Duluth (map)
Love hiking to tall places but think MN’s 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 (map)
This spot emerged as one of the favorites in our Facebook group, 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 go!
5. Tettegouche State Park, Silver Bay (map)
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.
6. Grand Portage State Park, Grand Portage (map)
Located along the US-Canada border, this park features a 120-foot waterfall, plus short and long hiking trails that will 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 (map)
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 this park has to offer.
8. Montissippi Regional Park, Monticello (map)
Best known for its stunning pines, this spacious 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 (map)
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? This is a must-stop.
10. Fort Snelling State Park, St Paul (map)
Another local fan favorite, this 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 — if you do, 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 (map)
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?
There you have it, nature-lovers. This state has so much beauty to offer to humans and pups alike. Did we miss your favorite dog-friendly hikes? Woof at us in the comments or in our Dog-Friendly Facebook Group.
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, then join our Dog-Friendly Twin Cities Facebook Group.
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