With shows canceled, businesses closed and activities postponed, the surest way to get out of the house for a responsible, socially-distanced adventure during the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic is to find a hiking trail and get a-walkin’.
Luckily for residents of the southwest metro, southern Minnesota is crisscrossed with dozens — if not hundreds — of beautiful trails. From short paved jaunts to gravely miles-long paths, there are plenty of places to enjoy the spring temperatures and sunshine. Here are a few you might enjoy:
Luce Line state and regional trails
Trail head: Near Vicksburg Lane North and 10th Avenue North in Plymouth.
The Luce Line state and regional trails runs 63 miles along a former railroad line from Plymouth to Cosmos in west-central Minnesota. You can walk and hike, bike, and bring your leashed dog along the trail, which is limestone for 30 miles east of Plymouth and paved from Plymouth to Minneapolis.
The path is mostly flat, and there’s a parallel trail for horseback riding. In the winter, select sections are open for snowmobiles.
Carver Park Reserve
Recreation entrance: 7400 Grimm Road in Victoria.
The buildings in Carver Park Reserve are currently closed due to social distancing policies, but in ordinary times visitors can find the Lowry Nature Center, Grimm Farm Historic Site and King Waterbird Sanctuary among the reserve’s acreage. The 25.7 miles of trails are a combination of paved and gravel, and there are 9.1 miles of trails that are specifically open to dogs and their walkers. There’s also a 27-acre off-leash area for dogs at 7200 Park Drive in Victoria, in case Fido has been feeling cooped up with the whole family at home.
Richard T. Anderson Conservation Area
Recreation entrance: 18700 Flying Cloud Drive in Eden Prairie.
Just north of the Minnesota River, the Richard T. Anderson Conservation Area features trails along rolling hills that overlook the river and wind between valleys and crests of the slope down to the water. The primary trail is a 1.8 mile loop and is unpaved through native prairie and patches of wildflowers. Dogs are welcome on-leash, but otherwise humans are the only traffic on these roads.
Purgatory Creek Park
Location: 13001 Technology Drive in Eden Prairie.
This paved path around the Purgatory Creek Park in Eden Prairie is an easy stroll for the casual walker and features many benches and shady nooks to gaze out over the water. A pavilion and veterans’ memorial feature prominently in the park where the path begins. Leashed dogs, bikers and walkers of all speeds are welcome along Eden Prairie’s most popular 5k location.