Southern Minnesota Ski Trails
The southern half of Minnesota offers rolling bluff country in the east and wide-open prairies in the west with regions of old-growth forest in between. A wide variety of state parks, forests and recreational trails offer fine cross country skiing. Updated October 2023.
Jay C. Hormel Nature Center: 10km
Beginner to intermediate, classic and skate trails through woods and prairie. Interpretive building with rentals serves as a warming house. No MN Ski Pass required.
Oxbow Park: 3km
Groomed classic and skate trail loops winding through undeveloped prairie and wooded hills. Oxbow Park also offers fat tire bike trails seasonally.
Chester Woods Park: 8km
All levels, groomed trails through a wooded and hilly county park with views of Chester Lake, usually groomed for both classic and skate skiing. Trails are well marked with maps at most intersections. Chester Woods Park also offers fat tire bike trails seasonally.
River Bend Nature Center: 11km
Beginner to advanced, groomed classic through flat prairie and woods with some challenging hills. MN Ski Pass required.
Ney Nature Center: 10km
Groomed, classic ski trails through the 446-acre Ney Wildlife Preserve. Rentals available at the nature center. Equipment rentals available.
Lake Washington Regional Park: 5km
Beaver Falls County Park: 3km
Groomed, double-track classic trail with multiple hills and turns. There are open and wooded areas and terrain ranges from easy to difficult. Trails are shared and open to skiing hiking, snowshoeing and fatbiking. A vault style bathroom is available in the park’s recreation area, along with an open shelter. The trail follows Beaver Creek, providing beautiful views and visitors can expect to see deer, turkeys and other wildlife. Trail users are encouraged to park at the south entrance off of 680th Avenue. Use of trails and parking is free for day use. Note that tracks are set only when snow cover is sufficient, otherwise they’re groomed flat.
Flandrau State Park: 9.5km
Beginner to intermediate, groomed classic, flat trails on the bottom of the valley with more challenging routes on the oak shaded bluffs with several overlooks of Cottonwood River. Ski and snowshoe rentals available. Beach house serves as a warming shelter. MN Ski Pass required.
More about the park
Carleton College Arboretum: 18km
Trails in the upper arboretum (6km) are groomed for skating and classic skiing, the remainder are classic only. Trails are shared with walkers.
Brooktree Golf Course: 3km
Easy skate ski and classic loop.
Kaplan’s Woods Parkway: 13km
Intermediate, ravine terrain provides challenging hills through hardwood forest near a lake and river. Wide trails suitable for skate ski and tracked for classic when snow is sufficient. Trail travels from Morehouse Park through Kaplan’s Woods Parkway and into the County Country Club grounds. Inside Kaplan’s Woods Park, 9km of trails are groomed for skiing and 6 miles are groomed for fat bikes. MN Ski Pass required for skiing.
Cannon Valley Trail: 23km
The Cannon Valley Trail offers views of overhanging cliffs and stunning scenery and connects the communities of Cannon Falls, Welch and Red Wing. It’s open to a variety of uses in the winter. From Cannon Falls:
-Mile 1-15.5: Cross Country Skiing only.
-Mile 15.5-17.5: Side by side fat biking and cross country skiing.
-Mile 17.5-19.7: Trail is plowed and open to hiking and biking.
MN Ski Pass required for skiing only.
Mississippi National Ski Trails: 8km
Beginner to advanced, groomed for classic skiing. 8km classic loop through wooded terrain offers extensive views of Mississippi River, considered one of the most spectacular in the state. Flatter and easier trails groomed for both classic and skate skiing are on the golf course to the south, where the trailhead is. MN Ski Pass required.
Eastwood Golf Course: 6km
All levels, groomed classic and skate ski loops with 2.5km lighted trails.
Essex Park: 8.5km
Groomed classic and skate ski through woods and restored prairie. Rolling terrain.
Gamehaven Reservoir: 11.5km
Trails of varied difficulty include a beginner’s loop and a 3.5km wide, out-and-back two-way trail with snowmaking. Most trails are out in the open.
Quarry Hill Nature Center: 12km
Relatively flat, groomed trails through rolling hills around an old quarry. The north end of the system reaches into Parkwood Hills Park and is rated expert. Quarry Hill Nature Center is open all year and has equipment rentals.
Root River/ Harmony-Preston Valley State Trail
Root River State Trail: 48km
Beginner to intermediate trail offering views of tall bluffs and abundant wildlife. Track set between Isinours Forestry Unit north of Preston and the bridge outside of Houston. MN Ski Pass required.
Harmony-Preston Valley State Trail: 19km Tracked between Isinours Junction, where the two trails meet, and County Road 16. MN Ski Pass required.
Skalbekken County Park: 2.4km
Groomed, double-track classic trail rated easy to moderate. The wooded trail follows the Minnesota River and visitors can expect to see deer, turkeys and other wildlife and see the 1868 Skalbeck log cabin. Trails are shared and open to skiing, hiking, snowshoeing and fatbiking. There is a vault style bathroom near the park entrance, along with an open shelter. Users are encouraged to park in the horse camp off of County Road 10. Use of trails and parking is free for day use. Note that tracks are set only when snow cover is sufficient, otherwise they’re groomed flat.
Great River Bluffs State Park: 5km
Saint Mary’s University: 14.5km
Mostly intermediate to advanced with some flat terrain for beginners. Groomed classic and skate ski, through hardwood forest, an old apple orchard, and near Gilmore Creek. Some lit sections.