Hiking in the rain: Minnesota state trails that won't leave you muddy

Start of Paul Bunyan Trail
A group of trail walkers heads out on the first leg of the Paul Bunyan Trail in Brainerd/Baxter.
Tom Robertson for MPR News File

The transition to October has been a fairly wet one in Minnesota — which has forced a few communities to deal with with some flooding related pains.

On the recreational side of things, there’s a lesser impact: where to go hiking if the trails are too muddy? Friday and Sunday look nice forecast-wise, but sandwiched in between is a rainy Saturday.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources says if you still want to go hiking under the beautiful fall colors, you can stay dry on plenty of paved trails within state parks.

Itasca State Park

Lake Itasca
Lake Itasca as viewed from the Peace Pipe Overlook in Itasca State Park.
William Lager | MPR News File

DNR Visitor Services and Outreach Manager Rachel Hopper notes that north central Minnesota is the best spot right now for fall colors. In that region, there’s Itasca State Park.

“Itasca is in line with our best spots for viewing, making it good for those who want to walk and enjoy the colors,” Hopper said.

Itasca has six miles of paved trails that hikers can share with cyclists.

Lake Bemidji State Park

Just to the northeast of Itasca is Lake Bemidji State Park. That park has only 1.3 miles of paved trails.

But you can keep walking on because they connect with The Paul Bunyan State Trail, which is the longest of Minnesota's state trails.

Roughing it

Mud and flood debris cover a trail at Fort Snelling State Park
Mud and flood debris cover a trail at Fort Snelling State Park on May 23, 2019.
Tim Nelson | MPR News

Of course, if you’ve got some waterproof walking boots, the unpaved trails at state parks will still be open. Some just might be a little more slippery than others, depending on when exactly you go.

“Some trails are a little more susceptible to erosion than others,” Hopper said.

She added that if you go the state parks’ website, you can find the park you are planning to visit to see if there are any warnings about a particular trail.

If you do go out, be sure to share your trail and fall color photos with us on Twitter and Instagram using #OutsideinMN.

Looking for more news from the outdoors? Check out our full coverage here and download our Outside in MN app where you'll find guides, outdoor events near you and weather updates. Get it on Apple or Android stores.

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