Best Trails for Winter Hiking

By: Erin Korsmo

January 13, 2021

Category: Recreation

If there was ever a year to embrace the outdoors no matter the temperature, this is it. Even a short hike can help cure cabin fever and calm our minds. It can invigorate our spirits and help us feel connected to the earth and each other. 

Whether your preferred views are frosted maple forests, vast expanses of golden prairie, or frozen lakes and streams, we've got you covered. While some of our winter trails are reserved for cross-country skiing, we have more than 100 miles of hiking trails to explore throughout Three Rivers. Read on to see some of our suggestions for short, medium and long winter hikes.

Trails Under Two Miles

Two people walk toward a historic red barn in the winter at The Landing.

The Landing

Miles: 0.7 (1.4 round trip)
Plowed or Packed: Yes

Step back in time on a stroll through The Landing. The Village Trail takes you through the historic village where you can peek into the windows of buildings from the 1800s. Interpretive signs explain the history of the land and structures.

Baker Campground

Miles: 1
Plowed or Packed: Yes

If towering pines and a vast expanse of frozen lake sound like your ideal scenery, look no further than Baker Campground in Baker Park Reserve. The campground road is plowed for walkers. Buzzing with activity in the summer, the shores of Lake Independence are still and serene in the winter. 

A paved trail skirts the shores of Silver Lake at Silverwood Park on a snowy winter day. The trail passes under oak trees and a metal sculpture sits to the left of the trail.

Silverwood Park

Plowed or Packed: Yes

Nature and art collide on the one-mile paved loop at Silverwood. You can take in views of a frozen Silver Lake while exploring the artist-created sculptures that dot the trail. You can marvel at gnarled oak trees and stands of quaking aspen while pausing at a poetry stop to hear work from local poets (bring your smartphone).   

Lake Minnetonka Regional Park

Plowed or Packed: Yes

In the summer, Lake Minnetonka Regional Park teems with boaters seeking access to the lake. In the winter, however, it’s perfect for a quiet walk and bird watching. The paved loop around the swim pond is plowed for easy walking. As you pass the wooded areas, keep your eyes and ears peeled for our winter residents like downy, hairy and red-bellied woodpeckers, white-breasted nuthatches and chickadees.  

Trails 2-4 Miles

A paved trail separates rows of aspen and other trees in the winter at French Regional Park.

French Regional Park

Miles: 2.6
Plowed or Packed: Yes

Skirt the edges of French Regional Park on a paved, plowed trail. From the visitor center, head along the road toward Medicine Lake, or go the opposite direction to see wetland areas on the western edge of the park. 

Fish Lake Regional Park

Miles: 2.5
Plowed or Packed: Yes

The mostly flat paved trail is plowed in the winter and takes you along the southern shores of Fish Lake and around oak forest. Two trail loops allow you to choose your own adventure. The park also has an additional 1.5 miles of packed, unpaved trails. 

Crow-Hassan Park Reserve

Miles: 2
Plowed or Packed: Yes

For a truly remote experience, head out to Crow-Hassan in Rogers for a hike on the multi-use trail. One of the least developed parks in Three Rivers, Crow-Hassan offers peace among the restored prairie and maple forests. The trail is packed in winter, though minimally maintained, and takes you on varied terrain past wetlands and the Crow River.

A fishing pier juts out into a frozen, tree-lined Lake Rebecca.

Lake Rebecca Park Reserve

Miles: 2.2
Plowed or Packed: Yes

The packed multi-use trail takes you past the shores of Lake Rebecca. As aerators keep parts of the lake open, listen for the honks of trumpeter swans gathered in the open water or flying overhead. 

For Longer Adventures

Baker Park Reserve

Miles: 5.2
Plowed or Packed: Yes

The multi-use trail at Baker Park Reserve is packed in the winter and perfect for taking a longer stroll through woods and wetlands. Park off County Road 201/Homestead Trail.

A man walks down a wooded trail at Murphy-Hanrehan Park Reserve in the winter.

Murphy-Hanrehan Park Reserve

Miles: 5.7
Packed or Plowed: No

While the hiking trails at Murphy-Hanrehan are not maintained in the winter, the park offers pristine natural scenery that is hard to beat. Find solitude under the towering oaks that are still grasping onto their rust-colored leaves, or take a moment to breathe at the edge of the prairie. The park is an Important Bird Area, designated by the National Audubon Society, so keep your eyes and ears open for feathered friends who make a home in the park. 

A snowy trail with freshly packed tracks cuts through dense woods at Elm Creek Park Reserve.

Elm Creek Park Reserve

Miles: 7.2
Packed or Plowed: 4.5 miles packed

Park at Eastman Nature Center and explore miles of trails in the southwest portion of the park. While the trails right around the nature center are not maintained in the winter, there's often enough traffic to create a good pack. Hike past the creek and around glistening, snow-covered basins of coniferous trees. With several loops, you can choose how far you want to go. The 4.5-mile multi-use trail offers a longer loop and is packed in the winter.

Crow-Hassan Park Reserve

Miles: 13.5
Packed or Plowed: 2 miles packed

While the packed multi-use trail makes hiking a little easier, don't miss out on the other 11.5 miles of trails in the park. Traverse the oldest restored prairie in the Twin Cities metro area, or take in views of the Crow River from under a leafless maple canopy.

About the Author

A woman in a black jacket smiles.

Erin Korsmo is the Web Coordinator at Three Rivers Park District. Her background is in journalism and content strategy. Erin has a longstanding passion for the outdoors. As a child, she went camping every summer and volunteered to count loons for the DNR with her family. Erin is a Minnesota Master Naturalist in the deciduous forest and prairie biomes. Outside of work, she enjoys hiking, kayaking, identifying and photographing plants and wildlife, crafting, and spending time with her husband and cat.


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