12 Minnesota State Parks for Snowshoeing this Winter

Jan 6, 2022Guest Blog

In Minnesota’s state parks you can create your own trail and trek through forested hillsides, across prairie grasslands, over frozen, reed-lined marshes – anywhere a mantle of snow might invite you. While some parks offer groomed snowshoeing trails, you’re free to blaze you own trail through these winter wonderlands all across Minnesota and your routes are almost limitless.

Fort Snelling State Park  

Pike Island offers a pleasant loop along the banks of the Mississippi River, following alongside the designated ski trail. Snowshoers can also cut through the interior of the island.

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Afton State Park  

The meadows and wooded sections of the high bluff country above the St. Croix make the hills and valleys of Afton an adventurous network of snowshoeing route options, many of which offer stunning vistas.
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Frontenac State Park  

There are more than two miles of designated ungroomed trails, but snowshoers can also skirt around the ski loops for many more miles of snow trekking across the hills overlooking Lake Pepin.

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Great River Bluffs State Park  

Trail spurs beneath a grand latticework of maple branches take you to expansive and lofty panoramas of the Mississippi River Valley south of Winona.

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Nerstrand Big Woods State Park  

Besides the wooded hillsides and a trek along Prairie Creek, a special treat is a short hike to the frozen curtain of water at Hidden Falls.
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Flandrau State Park  

The nearly three-mile out-and-back River Trail in the southeastern section of this park is a designated snowshoe route along the lowlands of the Cottonwood River.

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Lake Maria State Park  

Snowshoers who are also avid winter campers will especially enjoy the wooded hills and backcountry spirit of this park. Like several other great snowshoe destinations, Lake Maria offers camper cabins for a great, cozy base camp during extended snowshoeing treks along more than seven miles of designated trails.

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Jay Cooke State Park  

Carlton, Forbay Lake, Ogantz and Grand Portage Trails provide more than seven miles of snowshoeing options along the ruggedly beautiful St. Louis River and other waters within this northern Minnesota state park. The string of parks along the North Shore of Lake Superior as well as those further inland offer some of the best Northwoods snowshoeing landscapes in the entire state.
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Itasca State Park  

This park is in a league of its own when it comes to designated ungroomed winter ski, snowshoe, and hiking trails. More than 25 miles of winter routes cross through this incredible park from border to border, offering treks among towering red pines and around-even over-remote lakes.

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Lac Qui Parle State Park  

Perhaps one of the best parks in Minnesota to see whitetail deer throughout the winter, it offers miles of looped trails through the grassy bottomlands along the banks of the Lac Qui Parle River where it flows into the Minnesota River north of Montevideo. This is one of the best examples of prairie region river systems, and great snowshoeing.
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Upper Sioux Agency  State Park  

Rolling, grass-covered hills, scattered oak forests and a trail along the banks of the Minnesota River make this a prime prairie park for winter snowshoeing adventures.
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Minneopa State Park  

Worth a trip just to get a chance sighting of bison in winter. A trek around the outside of the bison herd enclosure along the Minnesota River Bluff Trail leads to Seppmann Mill a historic stone-built grist mill on the western edge of the park.

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Please do not walk on groomed cross-country ski trails with or without snowshoes. 

About the Author

Tom Watson

Tom Watson

is the author of three books featuring amenities at Minnesota state parks: 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles of MinneapolisBest Tent Camping-Minnesota, and Minnesota Camper Cabins. He’s a member of the Association of Great Lakes Outdoor Writers (AGLOW) and has been a regular contributor to Minnesota Trails Magazine for many years. Find out more about Tom and get in touch on his website.

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