Explore the most popular camping trails in Minnesota with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

Another beautiful south-central Minnesota trek. Wildflowers and river hills bring this hike to life and it’s not impossible to imagine what this land looked like before touched by humans. Be sure to save time for the falls. Up on the hill is the mill, which offers a serene spot for a rest and overlook of Minnesota’s river valley. We haven’t been back since the bison arrived, so this may effect trails.
(Hiked: A few times between 2005-2015)

A decent hike through north central Minnesota’s forest and rolling hills. Trail was good enough, perhaps it was a bad trail day for us, but we weren’t over the moon for this one. Occasional view stunners, but overall a mundane hike. Be careful, (as always,) of the grassy leg of this trail, as we were covered in wood ticks by the end. Every tick season is different, this one particularly nasty, so come prepared with proper gear and try to enjoy this forest respite. (Hiked: June/2017)

Great Trail, Great Views

Moderate hike where you get to walk through some beautiful Minnesota North woods and also peer over cliffs on these two beautiful lakes. We camped at bear lake campground and will be back!

My brother an I spent about three days on the trail and loved it. It's definitely not for the faint hearted. With the various elevation changes, make sure you've got a good pair of hiking shoes/boots that are snug and won't move on you much. You'll get blisters pretty quick on this one if they're loose.

hiking
24 days ago

I did a solo hike of the trail in August and it kicked my butt. I am a moderately experienced BWCA paddler but had never done a hiking trip let alone a solo trip. However, I did a ton of research and felt quite prepared. It was very reassuring to read Christine's review below. Everything Christine said echoes how I felt. I planned on a 3 night stay hoping to stay on Hustler and Pageant Lake. This hike completely broke me down. I also got lost at the same point she turned around but luckily found the trail after searching for 30 min..it was so easy, how could you not find it?? ;) Anywho, by the time I got to Shell lake I could barely move. I continued past the first site along the trail on the western shores because it felt like such an unwelcoming site - essentially a huge rock slab with no shade. I ended up bushwhacking my way to the NE site below Little Shell. It was a decent site but faced the bay and could not see the sunset. This only worsened my low morale. I spent the night and booked it out of there right away the next morning. I didn't have any desire to continue on this overgrown trail. I think I'll stick to paddling or trying this later in the season when the leaves have fallen.

Do your research before doing this hike and purchase All Trails Pro version. It saved my butt and honestly was the only way to get through some areas. Check out my page if you want to see my path - it varied a bit from what's posted here. Cheers and happy hiking!

I hike this trail often. There can be a lot of people near the main parking/lodge/river area but otherwise it is great.

Really gorgeous and rarely very busy. It’s a gem, so close to the Twin Cities.

Definitely a challenging trail. We hiked in late September when foggy and overcast so have to trust that views are great. Some very steep, rocky and technical (you better look where you’re stepping before you step) sections, especially at manitou river. Great camp sites along the way. No problem finding water sources along trail. It was a real workout but a fabulous experience.

Rocky but lovely. We’re were there late September when overcast and tail still fairly muddy but doable. Fantastic views as others have noted. A few spots where signage could have been clearer. Would definitely do it again! Rocky footing with some ups and downs.

hiking
2 months ago

Did this hike on 11/16/18. It was 20 degrees with roughly 4” of snow and it was snowing, a slow snow globe like snow. Beautiful! Lots of moose and deer tracks but never saw any wildlife. Trail was rocky in places but it was covered with snow. The places you had to cross over water were not frozen and the planking was covered with snow so you needed to be cautious, only slid off once. Was wearing my Sorels so I never had to worry about wet feet. The hike had a few steep areas but the view, before the actual summit was breathtaking. It looked so amazing with the trees snow covered. Pictures didn’t do justice. We were in and out in 3 and a half hours.

Hiked just after the fresh snowfall and it was absolutely beautiful. You feel like you’re in a winter wonderland. Highly recommend the trail in all seasons.

2 months ago

This is an amazingly flowy trail!!!

I wouldn’t describe it as hard, more easy to moderate. Definitely very rocky for long stretches but the incline was gentle and not strenuous. Pretty views just shy of the summit. Actual summit is just a plaque - no views. Brought two small dogs and they dominated it but were very tired afterwards. A few stream crossing were a little underwater but definitely do-able. Worth checking out for the fresh air, gorgeous lake views, and an enjoyable time in nature.

hiking
2 months ago

Open views of the river. No mosquitos in mid October. Only negative is the graffiti on the quarry sites

Banning State Park is one of my favorites! Really enjoyed the river and the beautiful tall trees❤️ wonderful place to go show shoeing!

hiking
2 months ago

Beautiful crisp fall day. The Mt. Tom trail was just right amount of climbing and views. There probably could be a few more signs marking trail intersections. Will definitely be back to this trail!!

nice view. full loop is about 5mi. all paved except for a small section of bridge over a swamp. Vet Memorial is really cool to check out.

Excellent escape into the wilds of northern Minnesota. Great campsites for small tents. I recommend a freestanding tent as some of the sites have little area to set spikes as they are located on rock facia. Bring good hiking shoes too as some of the portages can be rugged and mucky. Nothing more ironic than getting foot blisters on a canoe trip.

It needs to be maintained more, but it’s an awesome place to escape!

completed 10/11/18. super wet crossings and trail washed out in places. wasn't undoable but be ready for wet feet. Gators definitely recommended and walking stick or trekking poles. took my time with trail conditions and it being my first time there, out and back in under 4 hours. had a dusting of snow that day too, made for super beautiful scenery.

Awesome view of the bluffs and the river! Well maintained trails.

Good moderate hike.

Nice area on a beautiful day! My dog enjoyed the water. Would come back!

The 2 miles of straight paved path was a bit lackluster but still a great view!

hiking
2 months ago

As much as I enjoy this park for its bison conservation program and the new safari-style range tour, the trail system leaves something to be desired. It's cool to experience a restored prairie like this, but because of the parks relatively small size and lack of forest cover, you'd be hard-pressed to find a spot in the park that would disguise the surrounding farm silos and barns.

That said, the cart-in camping area is great, and is tucked back in a small wooded area near the river. We spend a night there in October and had the campground to ourselves.

Absolutely stunning!!!

Just did this as a short trip last weekend, one day in / one day out. We camped at one of the two sites at Bear Lake and had the place all to ourselves. Highly recommend weeknight camping- we passed many parties heading out as we were hiking in Sunday night. It’s as muddy as everyone says, but worth it. The fall colors are stunning and the overlooks along the way surprised me. I wouldn’t camp any later than mid-October... it was real chilly when we weren’t moving and snow covered the ground when we woke up. Definitely a MN gem.

very nice place to hike and the hidden falls was well worth the trip. Really appreciate how well navigated the pathes are. Good place to take your dog and enjoy the area.

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