23 Minnesota Hikes You Should Do This Fall

Sep 22, 2021News

Kick off the fall season with these great hikes on Minnesota’s “Famous Four” offroad trails.

Hiking Itasca State Park's quiet side on the North Country Trail

North Country Trail

1. Fergus Falls Prairie Tour

6 miles one way from Red Sox Park to the Prairie Wetlands Learning Center. Hike on Fergus Falls’ wilder side along the Otter Tail River, through One Mile Prairie nature area, alongside the Central Lakes Trail, through Delagoon Park, and across the Prairie Wetlands Learning Center. Return following the signed 4-mile “Urban Connector” route through downtown Fergus Falls.

2.Hike through Diverse Habitats

8 miles one way. Hike from the State Hwy 34 trailhead north across the Hubbel Pond Wildlife Management Area and Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge to the Pine Lake parking area trailhead. This hike features a crossing of the Otter Tail River, an overlook of the historic log driving channel and large wetland complexes.

3. Itasca State Park’s Old Growth Pines

6.4 miles one way from the South Entrance/ US Hwy. 71 trailhead to the Gartner Farm/540th Ave. trailhead. Enjoy a hike across the quiet side of Itasca and pass through old-growth pine forests and past several scenic backcountry lakes.

4. Laurentian Divide

4.8 miles one way along the Continental Divide that separates the Red River of the North from the Mississippi River. Start at Elbow Lake Rd. trailhead and hike to State Hwy 113. Additional miles can be added north of Hwy 113 to take in some great views from atop the divide.

5. Itasca Moraine Chain of Lakes

8 miles one way from the CR-4 trailhead north of Emmaville to the CR-91 trailhead south of Lake George. Pass by (and between) 25 lakes in the Paul Bunyan State Forest and its mixture of hardwood forests.

6. Nelson Lake & Lake Twentyone Loops

Up to 2.7 miles. Hike a combination of the two interconnected loops around these two lakes or hike Nelson Lake (1.5 miles) and Lake Twentyone (1.6 miles) separately. Find a State Forest campground on Nelson Lake and a picnic area on Lake Twentyone.

7. Waboose Lake loop

Hike 4 miles around the Waboose Lake loop trail starting at the Waboose Lake public access/trailhead north of Nevis. See old growth pines and enjoy many outstanding views of the lake and resident wildlife on this loop trail.

8. Shingobee-Anoway Valley

Hike one-way 3.5 miles from CR-50 trailhead to the new St. Hwy. 34 trailhead near Walker. Enjoy a mixture of pine plantation, a tamarack bog and dark coniferous forest on this hike through the Chippewa National Forest’s Shingobee valley.

9. Chippewa National Forest Lake & Pines

Hike one-way 10 miles from the FR3790 trailhead to the trailhead at the 4th Crossing of the Woodtick Trail (FR2107). Along the way, you’ll pass by beautiful Gut Lake, through pine plantations and mixed hardwood-conifer forests, and past Moccasin Lake. This is a long day hike or an overnight hike with two fabulous backcountry campsites.

10. Milton Lake Esker

Hike out and back 2.9 miles from the Milton Lake public access/trailhead north of Remer. Hike along the top of an esker, a snakelike gravel ridge remnant of the glacier, with beautiful old growth pines and hardwoods.

11. Forest History Center and Mississippi River

Hike out and back 2.8 mi. along the future North Country Trail route, a paved multi-use trail on the outskirts of Grand Rapids. Start at the Forest History Center and hike to Sylvan Point on an interpretive spur trail before reaching the city’s trailhead in southwest Grand Rapids.

12. Kawishiwi Falls

Hike out and back for an 0.8-mile round trip to the 70’ tall Kawishiwi Falls from the trailhead parking area on CR-18 (Fernberg Rd.). This trail, a joint project of the Minnesota DNR and Minnesota Power, will be included in the future North Country Trail route.

North Country Trail Website

A picturesque view of Bingshick Lake on the Kekekabic Trail in northeastern Minnesota

Kekekabic Trail

13. Kekekabic Trail / Boundary Waters Day-Hike

Hike 6.2 miles out from the Gunflint Trail (Cook CR-12) Kekekabic trailhead to the Bingshick Lake Campsite and back. Enjoy historic mine sites, views of scenic lakes, and get a glimpse of the Boundary Waters on this well maintained and traveled section of the famed “Kek.”
Kekekabic Trail Website

Border Route Trail

14. BWCAW-Rose Cliffs Loop

13-mile loop hike from the Caribou Rock Trailhead. This new loop which consists of the Caribou Rock, Border Route, South Lake, and Moss Lake Trails. Highlights include the dramatic Rose Lake Cliffs, historic Stairway Portage, and several other outstanding overlooks on the Border chain of lakes.

Border Route Trail Website

View of the Cascade River Valley on the Superior Hiking Trail

Superior Hiking Trail

15. 270° Overlook

2 miles out and back. Start at the Otter Lake Road. trailhead north of Hovland. Hike on both the Border Route Trail and the Superior Hiking Trail on a short section shared by both trails. The destination is a fantastic vista overlooking the Swamp and Pigeon River Valleys and the US-Canadian border.

16. Kadunce River

0.9 miles one way. Park at Kadunce River Wayside at Hwy. 61 milepost 120.2 north of Grand Marais. Cross highway and take spur trail 0.9 miles along beautiful Kadunce River Gorge to bridge. Hike back the same way.

17. Devil Track Canyon and River

2.5 miles one way. Park at County Rd. 58 Trailhead 0.7 miles north from Hwy. 61 milepost 113.8 north of Grand Marais. Hike along edge of a deep canyon and see Devil Track River far below, then descend to river. Hike back the same way.

18. Oberg Mountain Loop

2.5 miles. Park at Oberg Mountain Trailhead 2.2 miles north on Forest Service Rd. 336 (Onion River Rd.) from Hwy. 61 milepost 87.5 north of Tofte. Moderate hike has nine spectacular overlooks.

19. Carlton Peak

1.5 miles one way. Park at Britton Peak Trailhead 2.7 miles north on Co. Rd. 2 (Sawbill Trail) from Hwy. 61 mile-post 82.8 in Tofte. Hike to summit of Carlton Peak with breathtaking views. Hike back the same way.

20. Egge Lake

2.3 miles one way. Park at Finland Recreation Center Trailhead on Co. Rd. 7 east of Finland on State Hwy. 1. Hike to beautiful Egge Lake through maple forests. Return the same way.

21. Bean & Bear Lakes Loop

6.7 miles. Park at Penn Blvd. Trailhead in Silver Bay. At Hwy. 61 milepost 54.3, turn north and continue on Outer Dr. and Penn Blvd. 2.1 miles to parking lot. Loop goes to spectacular overlooks of Bean and Bear Lakes and back to parking lot.

22. Split Rock River Loop

5.0 miles. Park at Split Rock River Wayside at Hwy. 61 milepost 43.5. SHT travels along scenic river past numerous falls for 2.5 miles, crosses river on bridge, heads back on other side 2.5 miles to Hwy 61, crosses highway and goes west on paved Gitchi Gami Trail to come to a box culvert under Hwy 61 that returns to Wayside.

23. Gooseberry River Loop

2.0 miles. Park at Gooseberry Falls State Park Visitor Center parking lot, Hwy. 61 milepost 38.9. Take state park trail to Upper Falls, continue upstream on state park Fifth Falls Trail, cross bridge at the Fifth Falls and return on other side of the river on SHT to the visitor center.

Superior Hiking Trail Website

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I’m Jan, the publisher of Minnesota Trails Magazine. I’m looking for that one trail, the next ride, a new discovery and other reasons never to sit still in Minnesota.

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