What’s better than spending some regenerative time in the great outdoors, you ask? Doing so with the company of your best friend: your dog! Hiking with your pup is a great chance to burn off some steam while bonding amid nature. Here are 5 dog-friendly destinations across Minnesota to explore with your pooch this summer.
Region: Twin Cities
You don’t need to venture out of the Twin Cities to immerse yourself in nature. Fort Snelling State Park is home to 18 miles of hiking trails to explore with your four-legged friend. Start out with the Pike Island Loop, a hike that sees the point where the Mississippi River and the Minnesota River meet. Keep an eye out for bald eagles and blue herons, as both are well known for calling the island home.
The seemingly endless Leaf Hills Moraines north of Alexandria are the result of glaciers that moved through the area thousands of years ago — and they make for excellent hiking. Inspiration Peak is the highest point in the area, at 1,750 feet above sea level (and rising some 400 feet above the surrounding landscape). With an open ribbon of single track for you and your pack, this hike is perfect for a sunny day.
If you’re yearning for wide open prairies to run free this summer, head to Minnesota’s Glacial Lakes State Park. The undulating hills are punctuated by placid lakes connected by winding pathways through a mix of grasslands, forests and wetlands. Try the six-mile Kettle Lakes Loop hike, where you’ll catch a great view of the park and a perfect spot for watching the sunset over the prairie.
Region: Twin Cities
The Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge is a 14,000-acre oasis right in the Twin Cities, and best of all, your dog is welcome. Home to a wide array of birds and wildlife, the massive refuge boasts a variety of landscapes and hiking options, from steep bluffs to dense river-bottom forests. While every trail here is worth a walk, check out the five-mile Mazomani Trail, where you’ll pass from wetlands to prairie, with water views almost the entire way.
Home to beautiful bluffs, wildflower prairies and a lush canopy forest, Frontenac State Park features a robust network of trails you’ll want to revisit again and again. Don’t miss the overlook of Lake Pepin — a naturally occurring 40-mile-wide lake that forms the widest part of the Mississippi, where you’re likely to spot bald eagles soaring in the breeze looking for their next meal in the pristine waters below.