American culture is arguably centered around food. Want to spend time with friends? You’ll probably end up at a café or restaurant. A great alternative is hiking! Courses range from easy to full-body engagement as you climb up the sides of cliffs and jump over fallen trees and boulders. It’s a great way to get outside, and possibly, the best time of all to go hiking is upon us. No mosquitos, no sweat! The weather is beautiful and so are the trees. And according to your fellow Katies, Minnesota has amazing hiking spots filled with gorgeous views.
Looking for somewhere close by? Minnehaha Falls is close enough to bike to or catch the 74 bus route just outside of St. Kates. Eleanor Sonnabend, Social Work major, ‘20 recommends this park highly.
“The leaves in the fall are so pretty!” said Sonnabend, and she’s not exaggerating. The stunning park, is a great place to escape the city without ever leaving it. Minnehaha Falls has a beautiful waterfall that starts your hike. You can continue down the rocky path for a mildly difficult hike. The distance is marked by bridges over a trickling creek, and each bridge brings a new feature. A popular choice is bridge number two where many kids swim and fish for crawdads.
Are you up for a challenge? Just across the river from Minnehaha Falls are the beautiful Hidden Falls. According to Yuki Boreman, Social Work major, ’20 the name is incredibly fitting for these gorgeous falls. “My boyfriend and I walked up and down the river and couldn’t find the falls anywhere,” said Boreman.
Hint: look for the path less traveled by. When you find the falls, you can see the beautiful, large fire pits lined with moss, a great place to roast some marshmallows. Apart from the falls there are many trails, camping grounds, fishing spots and fun lookouts. This hike is pretty easy, easier than Minnehaha, if you’re looking for a relaxed afternoon in nature.
Fort Snelling is another park to escape the city and get some exercise. Pahoua Lee, Psychology major, ‘17 describes the park as beautiful, with a woodsy feeling that eliminates the busy feel the city can bring. It is a pretty easy hike and Lee enjoys seeing all the wildlife while hiking.
Another great hiking spot with incredible views and fantastic wildlife is the Minnesota Valley Wildlife Refuge (MVWR). This enticing hike is a full-body workout with steep inclines and wet marsh. However, the wildlife at the MVWR is amazing: there are wood ducks, prairie skinks, and best of all river otters!
Looking for a hike with fascinating historical value? Try Indian Mounds Regional Park. It is a bit farther from St. Kate’s but worth it. There are six Native American burial mounds on top of 450-year-old limestone and sandstone. The mounds were created 1,500 to 2,000 years ago by the Hopewellian peoples. The hike has many scenic overlooks and fire pits. Just remember that this is sacred ground, be sure to show respect!
Interstate Park in Taylors Falls is the perfect hiking getaway for an active day. Do you or your friends have a car and a couple hours to kill? Strap on good hiking shoes and drive an hour and a half to Taylors Falls. Enjoy the mini road-trip and scout out fall activities in the small towns along the way, including pumpkin patches, apple orchards and corn mazes. The hike is about three or four miles along the St. Croix River and involves climbing over boulders and coming as close to cliff edges as you dare. This hiking course is engaging and perfect if you’re looking for more than just a walk. The views are beautiful and you can also enjoy a brief boat ride during your visit.
Hiking is the perfect mix of activity and entertainment because it’s easy to monitor how much you would like to do and there are many trails in the state of Minnesota. Grab some friends, skip the costs of eating out and hit the trails!