Lots to do outdoors in north metro during winter months

Despite single-digit temperatures, a group of late afternoon skiers takes off along on a trail at Tamarack Nature Center. Ramsey County Parks & Recreation offers marked and groomed cross-country ski trails at county parks. All trails are open daily from sunrise to sunset.

If you’ve lived in this area all your life or for just one winter, you know there are many outdoor activities once the snow arrives.

Most of our cities have a lot of parks, skating/hockey rinks, skiing areas and more, much more.

Take a look at Hugo, where its parks offer a half-dozen outdoor activities, including cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, sledding, skateboarding, ice skating and hiking on miles of nature trails.

The cross-country skiing is on groomed trails at Irish Avenue Park. Access and parking are available off Irish Avenue.

Snowmobilers have miles of trails maintained by the Hugo Snowmobile Club that connect to regional trails. The club is part of the Washington County Star Trail Association.

Additional information on the trails in the area can be found on the DNR website at http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/snowmobiling/index.html or the Washington County Star Trail Association website at http://www.startrail.org/.

Hugo has two special passive parks with unpaved trails that provide great opportunities to connect with nature. Clearwater Creek Preserve offers a 1/2-mile creekside trail. Parking is available on Fable Hill Circle North. The trail surface is made of wood chips and can be uneven or muddy, depending on the season. Irish Avenue Park is located at 14420 Irish Avenue N. There are several miles of looped trails throughout the property.

The city’s most popular area for sledding is at Oak Shore Park, which is located at 12790 Exhall Avenue North. It’s southwest of Highway 61 and 130th Street, and includes a small playground at the top of the hill.

Skateboarding enthusiasts will have to wait until next winter for their enjoyment at Lions Park, which will offer quarter pipes, grind rails, concrete ramp features and a center pyramid. The park is under construction and won’t be completed until this summer. “We’re going to have a beautiful park there,” said Shayla Denaway, the city’s parks planner.

For outdoor skating, a rink is located at Hugo Elementary School, located at 14895 Francesca Ave. North.

Denaway said special events such as a sledding party and a cross-country meetup are being considered.

The city of Shoreview has seven outdoor skating rinks with supervised warming house facilities. All of the locations below have lighted hockey or general skating rinks. (Did you know it takes 7-10 consecutive days with below-freezing temperatures to produce a safe ice surface?) And if it gets too cold — like last Friday, the rinks are closed.


The sites:

• Bobby Theisen Park, 3575 Vivian Street

• Bucher Park, 5900 Mackubin Street

• McCullough Park, 915 County Road I (Snowshoeing is offered for $5 cash; snowshoes can be reserved and paid for at the site)

• Shamrock Park, 5623 Snelling Avenue

• Shoreview Commons, 4580 Victoria Street N (Open skating only, no hockey)

• Sitzer Park, 4344 Hodgson Road

• Wilson Park, 815 County Road F 

• Ramsey County Parks & Recreation offers marked and groomed cross-country ski trails at county parks. All trails are open daily from sunrise to sunset. Trail maps and grooming patterns for each park are available. Call 651-748-2500 or visit https://www.ramseycounty.us/ for more information.

Despite working through some inclement weather and COVID restrictions, Shoreview is going full throttle.

“We’re still running everything as usual,” said Becky Sola, Shoreview’s recreation program manager.

Sola said more information on all activities can be obtained by calling 651-490-4750.

Lino Lakes canceled its fall and winter activities last August, but its residents can participate nearby. Its recreation programs and use of warming houses actually were halted in late 2020.

White Bear Lakes has 24 parks that are closed for the season. Outdoor enthusiasts are enjoying them at their own risk, as there are no groomed trails. Skating rinks are open at four parks — Podvin, Spruce, Jack Yost and Ramaley.

So, whether you live in White Bear Lake, Vadnais Heights, Mahtomedi, Hugo, Lino Lakes, Centerville, Lexington, Lino Lakes, Shoreview or Forest Lake, you’re not far from these winter outdoor activities.

And, of course, this is a state with more than 10,000 lakes, which means lots of ice fishing. You’ve probably seen several fishing houses on local lakes. More are likely to come.


Contributing Writer Abe Winter can be reached by emailing news@presspubs.com or calling 651-407-1200.

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