“I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order.”
– Author John Burroughs
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.
Minnesotans are also not shy about supporting their love of the outdoors. Demand for single-day vehicle permits has increased 34 percent since 2012. The state’s 76 parks, 13 state trails, and 62 state forest campgrounds served more than 12 million visitors last year.
The state’s newest park, Lake Vermilion-Soudan Underground Mine State Park in Soudan, Minnesota, just opened this week. It is the first new state park to open in 25 years. The new park features Vermilion Ridge Campground with electrical hookups available.
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.
Residents of our area also don’t have to travel far to enjoy the benefits of the great outdoors. 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: https://parks.co.ramsey.mn.us/tamarack/Pages/tamarack.aspx
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 7th Street in Maplewood. Discover more about the center by visiting: http://www.ci.maplewood.mn.us/index.aspx?nid=960 I encourage you to take advantage of many other parks in Maplewood as well, such as Joy Park, Hazelwood Park and Wakefield Park, which offer biking, fishing, swimming and more.
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: http://www.ci.oakdale.mn.us/index.asp?Type=B_BASIC&SEC=%7B7518B462-6219-4641-A270-0FC74331EE23%7D
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.
North St. Paul’s Casey Lake Park has a beautiful new park building in addition to a great playground, walking/biking trail and ball fields. And Silver Lake Park in North St. Paul offers tennis courts, a swimming beach, volleyball courts and a fishing pier.
Here’s an interesting website that shows you where to find the best bike, walking and running trails in the St. Paul area: http://www.traillink.com/city/saint-paul-mn-trails.aspx
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: http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/state_trails/index.html
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. http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/state_parks/reservations.html
We have many of our neighbors throughout the community to thank for the creation and maintenance of our 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. And be sure to visit our newly-restored Capitol. It is spectacular!