5 Less-Crowded Parks to Visit in the Twin Cities

Opt for exploring a quieter park this spring instead of heading to your favorite state park
One of the many trails at Clifton E. French Regional Park.

Three Rivers Park District

With the onset of warmer weather, Minnesotans can’t help but spend more of their time outdoors. After all, we’ve been cooped up all winter long. We live for spring and the beautiful summer weather Minnesota affords us.

This spring, instead of heading to your favorite state park for a nature-filled walk, try opting for a park reserve or regional park. Below are five Minnesota parks to consider:


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Elm Creek Park Reserve

Located just south of Anoka, Elm Creek Park Reserve boasts of over 12 miles of paved hiking trails that wind through the woods, old farm fields, and wetlands. Plus the trail system connects to the city trails of Maple Grove, Dayton, and Champlin, and to the Medicine Lake Regional Trails, giving walkers the option for longer walks on nice sunny days.

Cherokee Regional Park

Tucked right next to Mississippi River in West St. Paul, Cherokee Regional Park is small and quiet—you’d never guess you were just south of our capital. Follow the trail along the river (or trek off into the woods, if you’re looking for a more adventurous stroll), pack a picnic to enjoy under the park’s large trees, or take the time to sit on a bench and enjoy the river views.


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Clifton E. French Regional Park

Clifton E. French Regional Park on the shores of Medicine Lake offers a fishing pier, 4 miles of paved biking trails, and plenty to explore by foot. A little over 10 miles of turf trails meander through marshlands and hills, and seating areas let you catch your breath between treks. There’s also a 1.1-mile “Trail at Your Pace,” which features rest stops every quarter mile and even terrain for easy walking.

Rice Creek Chain of Lakes Park Reserve

Rice Creek Chain of Lakes Park Reserve is one of the largest parks near the Twin Cities. During the summer, the park is a go-to for its beach, golf course, campground, and nature center, but for our purposes, the park is a great destination for long walks or bike rides with paved and unpaved trails that weave around the lakes. Near the north end of the park by the YMCA, there is a 1.6-mile unpaved loop for those looking for a quick bout of exercise.


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 Carver Park Reserve

Similar to Rice Creek, Carver Park Reserve is home to a few smaller lakes not far from Lake Minnetonka Regional Park. Check out the 27-acre off-leash area for your furry friend, or wander the miles of paved trails along the eastern and western sections of the park. You can also explore through the marsh and tamarack swaps along the 1,700 feet of floating boardwalk.

Exploring from Home

Are you looking to encounter nature from the comfort of your home? Check out these virtual tours below: