There are two types of vacationers: those who want to do as little as possible and those who want to get out and experience nature. Okay, so maybe it’s not so black and white. There’s a clear spectrum that ranges from sitting by the lake, relaxing, and getting out into the great Minnesota Northwoods.
This short guide is for the latter. Actually, it’s for anyone who wants to get off the grounds of our wonderful Sugar Lake Lodge and see what Northern Minnesota has to offer in terms of hiking!
Looking for some good hikes in the Grand Rapids area? This is what’s close to our resort.
Sylvan Point Trail
We’ll start with something short, sweet, and easy. Located inside the city of Grand Rapids, this two-mile trail has both paved and gravel trails that ends at the Forest History Center. It’s an easy hike that offers Mississippi River views and is great for families and children! You’ll also see a lot of Northern Minnesota wildlife (including 200-year-old pine trees) as you take an easy and beautiful stroll through the woods.
Located just outside Grand Rapids, the Legion Trail System has been described as a “fun, flowy, and twisty trail in a Northwoods forest.” It’s an intermediate hike that is hand-cut and narrow at times. The dirt pathways are great for hiking and biking and are even known to host skiers during the winter months. There are some sections that feature steep climbs, but they can be mostly avoided if you have a map and stay on some of the easier trails. With seven miles of trails, there’s a lot to see here!
Simpson Creek Trail
Located off Route 46, the Simpson Creek Trail takes you through the beautiful Chippewa National Forest, which is filled with everything from bald eagles to osprey, loons, and dense forests with towering pines. It’s a 13-mile trail system that is great for beginner and intermediate hikers (with gentle rolling topography), complete with overlooks onto Cut Foot Sioux Lake and even a journey through the cedar swamp. Make sure to take the Avenue of the Pines Scenic Byway on the way there for some excellent views.
Cut Foot Sioux Trail
Connecting right to the Simpson Creek Trail, this 18-mile loop takes you along old forest roads made of gravel and sand, most of which are ideal for hiking, biking, cross-country skiing, and horseback riding. It’s a long loop with a lot to see in the Chippewa National Forest. You don’t have to do it all, but it’s quite an adventure should you choose to go the distance!
Even more hiking in the Chippewa National Forest! This historic area originally held a POW camp during World War II, and now it offers more than 19 miles of trails and many small lakes. The trail is accessible by foot or bike only, and it has some nice rolling topography that is great for intermediate and advanced cyclists (everything is unpaved, so mountain bikes only!). During the winter, this trail is also excellent for intermediate and expert cross-country skiers. During the spring and summer, you’ll be treated to some wonderful views of the maple, basswood, and aspen trees there.
This section of Chippewa National Forest is one of the only places in Minnesota that remained untouched by loggers by the turn of the century. It’s filled with ungroomed hiking and snowshoe trails and over 140 acres of white pines, some of which are over 400 years old! There’s only 2 miles of trails, and everything is self-guided, but this is one section of Northern Minnesota you can’t miss! You’ll stand in awe of trees that pre-date the United States of America as you navigate this Minnesota “hidden gem.”
This list wouldn’t be complete without this series of hiking trails. Located just five minutes away from Sugar Lake Lodge, there are plenty of loops to explore, all of which are ideal for both hiking and cross-country skiing, depending on the season. The loops vary in distance, but they are all excellent places to go for a quick hike that is located just minutes from our lodge!
Need a map for local trails? Looking for something off the beaten path? Book a trip to Sugar Lake Lodge and we’ll tell you all about the hiking, biking, and ski trails close to the Grand Rapids area.