Does 2020 have you down? Are you feeling a little stressed, worried about the coronavirus or anxious about the upcoming presidential election?

Multiple studies have shown walking can reduce stress, and there's no better time to enjoy the great outdoors than the cool fall weather in Minnesota. The leaves on the trees will be changing and there's many trails around the metro area to enjoy that.

I've enjoyed hiking the trails at the Wood Lake Nature Center in Richfield every fall. There's a lot of migrating birds and about 150 acres of marsh and restored prairie. There's plenty of tall trees that make you feel like you're in more of a rural area and not in the big city. 

Explore Minnesota lists its 10 best places to hike with fall colors in the backdrop, but many are not local. My favorite, Wood Lake Nature Center, made the top 10. The other nine are:

  • North County National Scenic Trail, Fergus Falls
  • Redhead Hiking & Mountain Bike Trails, Chisholm
  • Lake Bemidji State Park
  • Rydell National Wildlife Refuge, Erskine
  • Franz Jevne State Park, Birchdale
  • Camden State Park, Lynd
  • Nordic Ridge Recreation Area, Crosslake
  • Jay C. Hormel Nature Center, Austin
  • Bunker Hills Recreation Center, Ham Lake

But who has time to drive to Bemidji, Fergus Falls or the Iron Range in Chisholm to enjoy fall colors? There's plenty of places in the Twin Cities to do that.

Try Lake Minnetonka, the Minnesota River Valley, Murphy-Hanrehan Park Reserve in Savage, Fort Snelling State Park or the Landscape Arboretum in Chaska.

I've also enjoyed hiking the trails at Hyland Park Reserve in Bloomington. It's surrounded by Bush Lake and adjacent to the Richardson Nature Center. There are paved trails and many prairie landscape views with loss of trees.

Minnehaha Falls Regional Park in Minneapolis is another underrated spot. The park gets its name after its stream, and it has waterfalls that run out to the Mississippi River as well as beautiful scenery. Some trails lead right down to the river's shorelines.

Carver Park Reserve in Victoria is home to many trails, as well as the Lowry Nature Center. Not only are there trumpeter swans, songbirds and other waterfowl in the are, the terrain has interconnected lakes and marshes.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources' website has updated a fall color finder. It lists the places to go, and when the average time of year in the state when the leaves are turning color.

So take a break from 2020's added stress and relieve some of it on a fall trail near you.

Tom Schardin covers sports for Savage and Prior Lake. He is dependable, sarcastic and always joking around. Tom enjoys running and swimming and is often busy coaching his two kids' sports teams.

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