Minneapolis is a whole lot more than frozen tundra and funny accents. Indeed, the Mill City is at the epicenter of what has become known as one of the healthiest and fittest states in the United States. For good reason too—with an extensive network of on- and off-road trails and an impressive demographic of active-minded folks, it’s a runner’s paradise.
Here are five great places to run in Minneapolis-St. Paul, all of which are connected to one another by footpaths, making it easy to mix and match.
Chain of Lakes
When runners talk about Minneapolis, they always refer to “The Lakes.” Forming a sequence of paved trails, the Chain of Lakes includes Lake Harriet, Lake Calhoun, and Lake of the Isles, allowing for a 10-mile round trip around all three. If you’re inclined to travel further, runners can hop on the Minnehaha Parkway from Lake Harriet on the south end of the chain, which follows the Minnehaha Creek several miles to the serene Lake Nokomis and roaring Minnehaha Falls. Perhaps most important, this network of trails includes ample water fountains and bathrooms.
Theodore Wirth Park
Almost the size of New York City’s Central Park at 759 acres, Theodore Wirth Park has everything from paved paths to grass terrain to winding singletrack. A favorite spot for trail runners, if you head south of Glenwood Avenue, you’ll encounter some tough rolling and steep singletrack trails. If you’re more interested in an easy jog, stay closer to the golf course and Wirth Lake. A gorgeous natural gem that is situated in the shadow of downtown, the park also has geographic significance as it marks 45 degrees latitude, precisely half way between the equator and the North Pole.
There is no shortage of entry points to run the dirt and paved trails along the Mighty Mississippi. If you’re a history buff, start in Northeast Minneapolis at St. Anthony Main, Minneapolis’ birthplace. This spot allows for stunning views of the St. Anthony Falls from the famous Stone Arch Bridge. From there you can run east along the river to St. Paul or west further into Minneapolis. Asphalt paths line both sides of the river, with plenty of singletrack detours down to the river banks along the way.
Midtown Greenway and Cedar Lake Trail
Linking the Mississippi River with the Chain of Lakes and the western suburbs, this 5.7-mile bike and pedestrian highway follows the old Milwaukee Road railroad corridor. For more mileage, check out the Cedar Lake Trail which connects to the Greenway and takes you under Target Field where the Minnesota Twins play. If you’re looking for a more peaceful run, you can also hop onto the trail that winds around the serene and wooded Cedar Lake.
Fort Snelling State Park
Located in the heart of the Twin Cities, Fort Snelling State Park offers runners an escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. Featuring 18 miles of trails, you can run up to the historic military fort, around the park, and onto Pike Island. Situated at the confluence of the Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers, the heavily wooded island has about 3 miles of trails that tend to be the least crowded in the park. It’ll only take one jog through this area to understand why the Mdewakanton Dakota tribe once considered it the sacred center of the world.
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