The great parks and trails in our community and throughout the state give people of all ages and abilities the opportunity to cut short their screen time and re-connect with nature. In all seasons, being outside makes your spirits rise!

From the sparkling lakes Up North to the scenic bluff country down south, Minnesotans love their extensive system of state parks, trails and recreational areas. In addition to physical exercise, these areas feature outstanding learning opportunities for kids.

Our beautiful state has more than 1,300 miles of public trails. From smooth, railroad-grade bike trails to natural terrain for riding on horseback, you are bound to find a trail that fits your needs. 

Demand for single-day vehicle permits in state parks increases every year. The state’s 75 parks, 13 state trails, and 62 state forest campgrounds served more than 12 million visitors last year.

State parks within easy driving distance of the Twin Cities include:

•Afton State Park, Afton

•Fort Snelling State Park, St. Paul

•Interstate State Park, Taylors Falls

•Nerstrand Big Woods State Park, Nerstrand

•St. Croix State Park, Hinckley

•William O’Brien State Park, Marine on St. Croix

In addition to state parks, Minnesota’s vast network of regional and local parks and trails offer many more opportunities to re-connect with nature.

From bird watching in Katherine Abbott Park in Mahtomedi to biking on the Gateway State Trail, Minnesota has it all.

The Tamarack Nature Center is a 320-acre preserve within Bald Eagle-Otter Lakes Regional Park in White Bear Township. The expansive Nature Center offers more than four miles of turf trails, paved trails and boardwalks for year-round access to forests, prairies, ponds and several outstanding play areas. Start exploring soon at 5287 Otter Lake Road, White Bear Township or visit:

With the help of many advocates, plans to finish the Lake Links paved trail around White Bear Lake continue. Watch for progress on this important asset for our region.

The Maplewood Nature Center & Neighborhood Preserves offers 1 1/2 miles of hiking trails that wind through wetlands and woods and a visitor center with live snakes and salamanders. The visitor center is located at 2659 East Seventh St. in Maplewood. Discover more about the center by visiting:

The Oakdale Discovery Center is an award-winning facility nestled in the beautiful Oakdale Nature Preserve. Visitors of all ages are invited to learn about nature through a variety of art exhibits, a large aquarium, “hands-on” wildlife exhibit room as well as plenty of hiking trails. The Nature Preserve which surrounds the Discovery Center is a 220 acre outdoor recreation area which also offers many places to explore. You can find the Discovery Center at 444 Hadley Avenue North, or visit their website at:

Make sure to also check out Richard Walton Memorial Park in Oakdale and its many amenities, including a fun band shell for summer music, tennis courts and a skateboard park.

Here’s an interesting website that shows you where to find the best bike, walking and running trails in the St. Paul area:

If you’re feeling extra adventurous and want to explore beyond the metro area, you can find outdoor activity across the state. Whether your family prefers biking, long distance trails or simply beautiful places to walk – the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources offers a great website that allows you to find the perfect trail for your needs. Discover your next adventure at:

For those who enjoy camping or want to try camping for the first time, our state parks are family friendly and accessible. One tip: make your reservations early. These are popular destinations.

We have many of our neighbors throughout the community to thank for the creation and maintenance of these thousands of miles of trails. These volunteers have worked diligently for many years, serving on various commissions related to the outdoors. 

I encourage you to hike a new trail or visit a state or local park.  It is a beautiful world. Enjoy!

As always, please contact me with questions or suggestions regarding any issue. I encourage you to visit me at the Minnesota Senate Building, Room 2219. A visit to our restored Capitol makes a fine summer outing!  

Let me know if you would like me to stop by your home or apartment. I can be reached by email at, and by phone at 651-296-6820, or 651-770-0283.


Sen. Chuck Wiger represents District 43 in the Minnesota Senate.  He can be reached by email at and by phone at 651-296-6820.

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