So many trails, so little time. When I started hiking I had no idea how many trails existed all over the world. For someone getting started it can be overwhelming. When I am asked about how I decide where to go my recommendations are to start with a little research. I’ve covered trip planning basics and a few ways to pick a trail in various blog posts. This page will provide you with a variety of places to start looking. When in doubt I always suggest a quick google search for:
- City Parks
- County Parks
- State Parks and Forests
- Regional Trails
- Long Trails
- National Parks and Forests
You’ll find some of my favorite resources below, but this is by no means an exhaustive list and is focused on the U.S. and, in many cases Minnesota. As I add to my trail experiences I’ll add more so check back regularly for updates.
National Parks Trails
National Park Service (U.S.) – find adventure in any one of the country’s National Parks. Hike, explore, camp and learn.
With more than 60 State Parks, over 87 counties and a multitude of city parks, Minnesota has a wealth of options for hiking. These are just a few of my favorite resources when planning my hiking adventures from my base in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Minnesota State Parks – find your Minnesota State Park, trial conditions, campsites and camper cabins, and programs to help you explore all Minnesota has to offer no matter the season.
North Country Trail Association – all you need to know about The North Country Trail, the longest National Scenic Trail in the National Trails System, stretching 4,600 miles over eight states from North Dakota to Vermont.
Three Rivers Park District – Three Rivers Park District is a park system in the west suburban Minneapolis/St. Paul metro area of Minnesota with almost 27,000 acres of park reserves, regional parks, regional trails, and special-use facilities. The name “Three Rivers” comes from the parks’ geography, situated within the watersheds that flow into three significant rivers to this region: the Mississippi, the Minnesota and the Crow.
Dakota County Parks – a family of parks that offer diverse recreation opportunities to enjoy the outdoors and stay active year-round.
Minneapolis Parks – renowned urban park system spanning 6,809 acres of parkland and water. Featured among its 180 park properties are 55 miles of parkways, 102 miles of Grand Rounds biking and walking paths, 22 lakes, 12 formal gardens, seven golf courses and 49 recreation centers.
Roseville Parks – there are some true gems to be found in Roseville. Check them out!
Start your research by checking out this map (click the link) of the U.S. long trails, which was featured in Backpacker Magazine in 2017. With so many options it might be hard to decide where to start. But once you do, the list of resources below will help you further plan your hiking adventure. The trails are listed in alphabetical order and are not a complete list when compared to the map.
Appalachian Trail (AT) – is a 2,180+ mile long public footpath that traverses the scenic, wooded, pastoral, wild, and culturally resonant lands of the Appalachian Mountains. The National Park Service and the Appalachian Trail Conservancy can help with resources for your thru-hike or section hike.
Border Route Trail – a 65-mile long hiking trail which crosses the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) in the northeast corner of Minnesota and follows the international border between Minnesota and Ontario, Canada. At its eastern terminus connects with the northern terminus of the Superior Hiking Trail (SHT).
Colorado Trail – runs 485 miles from Denver to Durango, passing through six National Forests, six Wilderness areas, traversing five major river systems and penetrating eight of the states mountain ranges. Find resources to plan your adventure through the Colorado Trail Foundation.
Continental Divide National Scenic Trail (CDT) – is supported by the Continental Divide Trail Coalition, stretching approximately 3,100 miles long, extending from the Canadian border in Montana to the border of Mexico in New Mexico.
Ice Age Trail (IAT) – stretches across 1,200 miles in the state of Wisconsin, following the last glacial push into this portion of the continent. The Ice Age Trail Alliance has resources available to assist in planning your hike.
North Country Trail (NCT) – one of the longest long trails, the NCT is the longest in the National Trails System, stretching 4,700 miles across eight states from North Dakota to Vermont. Start your planning with a visit to the North Country Trail Association website.
Pacific Crest Trail (PTC) – the Pacific Crest Trail Association is a fantastic resource for planning your long trail or section hike of the wilderness footpath and equestrian trail in the western United States, extending some 2,650 miles from the trail’s southern terminus is just south of Campo, California by the U.S. border with Mexico to its northern terminus is on the Canada–US border on the edge of Manning Park in British Columbia.
Copyright Ruth Wikoff-Jones, ruthsbluemarble.com | No Use Permitted Without Prior Permission