Afton State Park
By Jim Umhoefer Close to the Twin Cities metro area, Afton offers a solution for traffic snarls and freeway mania: motorless motion. Bring comfortable walking shoes when you visit Afton State Park because you’ll have to hike in order to picnic, camp or swim here. The park’s trails plunge into deep ravines and climb up to ridge tops where you can overlook the St. Croix River Valley. If you feel out of touch with the natural world because of too much city, Afton State Park will help you mark the seasons. Afton State Park is located 10 miles north of Hastings in Minnesota’s Washington County.
The interpretive center stays open year-round and is used as a warming house by winter trail users. Weekends draw crowds from the Twin Cities metro area, mostly for the excellent cross-country skiing. The marked and groomed 12-mile trail system at Afton provides challenging skiing for expert and intermediate skiers, but also includes a 2.5-mile beginner loop. Snowshoeing is permitted anywhere in the park, but it can be difficult to navigate in the slippery ravines. The park also maintains four miles of groomed snowshoe trails and six miles of winter hiking trails and visitors can warm up by the wood stove in the visitor center.
More about skiing in the Hastings area