If you’re wondering where to go hiking in Chisago Lakes with kids, we have six perfect options for every season. Whether your kids are new to hiking or are experienced trekkers, we have trails for all abilities and skill levels, from Chisago City to Taylors Falls. In fact, we have hikes in Chisago Lakes for families along paved trails, winding and rocky trails, historic trails, and more. So, whichever path suits your fancy, we have the right one just for you! What better way to enjoy a lovely Minnesota day together than by exploring its natural beauty on foot? Grab your kids and your hiking boots, and let’s go on one of the best hikes in Chisago Lakes with kids.
Allemansrätt Park is a wilderness and Swedish heritage park located in the heart of Lindström. Not only is it a popular fishing spot with locals, but it offers one of the best hikes in Chisago Lakes with kids. The park has several miles of hiking trails, including a lovely 1.3-mile loop trail perfect for families. Trails are rated as easy, and are a mix of packed dirt, gravel roads, and boardwalks.
At Allemansrätt Park, you can walk amongst huge trees, glacial eskers, and wetlands – almost always with lake views in sight. In fact, there are three lakes within the park! Kids will love searching for birds and squirrels amongst the trees. Be sure to have them keep a special eye out while hiking, because lucky visitors might even see a beaver or muskrat along the water. Finally, parking is pretty easily found, and restrooms/portable toilets are on-site.
Interstate State Park
Interstate State Park is Minnesota’s second oldest state park – and the nation’s first interstate (Minnesota and Wisconsin) park. Located in Taylors Falls, the park offers unique topography and hiking trails rated easy to moderate. Interstate State Park is not only one of the best places to go hiking in Chisago Lakes with kids, but in Minnesota as well! Start your exploration of the park by taking a peek into the world’s deepest-explored glacial potholes! Then, select from several trail options to go in search of fun features like exposed lava flows, and local birds and wildlife.
The first trail option is the Saint Croix River Lookout and Glacial Potholes Area. This area is nestled along the Saint Croix River (before arriving at the launch point for Taylors Falls Scenic Boat Tours). There is a bit of a path to follow, but the best way for families to explore this area is to let kids take the lead. The winding, rocky trails are ideal for adventurous kiddos who want to explore, climb, and hike. Just be sure everyone uses careful footing and is mindful of the cliffs near the river. This area within the park is also popular amongst rock climbers, which is fun to watch with kids.
Alternatively, Sandstone Bluffs Trail (moderate, .9 mile loop trail) and the Walter F. Mondale River Trail (easy, 2.3-mile out-and-back trail) are both great options within Interstate State Park for families. Both offer rugged, packed dirt trails with some rocky outcroppings. Sandstone Bluffs Trail may also have intermittent waterfalls along the path, depending on the season. Across all three trails, you may encounter some stone steps, as well. Then, the picnic area has a wheelchair-accessible trail (a one-half-mile loop). Plus, the path between the Visitor’s Center parking lot and the boat tour launch is also paved, with accessible views of the river near the dock. Finally, parking is relatively easy to find, but requires a Minnesota State Park seasonal or day pass. Rustic bathrooms are located near the Visitor’s Center.
Wild River State Park
We are lucky to have TWO state parks within our charming communities. The second is Wild River State Park. Set along the Saint Croix River near Center City and Amalund, this park is popular amongst hikers and bird watchers. Those wondering where to go hiking in Chisago Lakes, will love exploring the 30+ miles of paths here. In fact, 14 trails weave throughout the park, ranging from easy to moderate.
Families interested in hiking at Wild River State Park have many fantastic options. Here are a few we recommend to help you get started! Firstly, the Old Logging Trail is an accessible, paved trail that is ideal for using strollers or for those who use wheelchairs. This 2.4-mile out-and-back trail takes hikers through a heavily wooded area. Then, those searching for birds and wildflowers will enjoy the River Terrace Loop. This easy loop trail begins near the picnic area. Alternatively, experienced trekkers may prefer Sunrise Loop, a 5.1-mile loop trail with forest and river views (and a large beaver dam). Regardless of your chosen route, hiking here will undoubtedly lead to a fun family day!
Finally, parking is very easy to find, but requires a Minnesota State Park seasonal or day pass. Modern bathrooms are located in the year-round trail center (it’s heated in the winter, with a fireplace!). With so many fun trails and kid-friendly amenities, Wild River State Park is undoubtedly one of the best spots for finding hikes in Chisago Lakes with kids.
Swedish Immigrant Regional Trail
One of the newest trails in the area, the Swedish Immigrant Regional Trail has quickly become one of the best hiking trails in Chisago Lakes with kids, too! While the last bit of the trail near Center City hasn’t been completed yet, there are still five trailheads between Chisago City and Taylors Falls to begin your next family adventure. These easy out-and-back trails are paved, making them ideal for strollers, young kids on scooters or bikes, and wheelchair users. Along the trails, families can search for birds and other small animals, as well as enjoy scenic views.
Each trailhead has a dedicated parking lot, so you can start and end your journey anywhere along the 20-mile trail. This trail is an excellent example of how our unique small towns work together as one amazing community!
Looking for an all-in-one fun day? Ki-Chi-Saga Park offers much more than hiking trails, including the Karl Oskar House, an original 19th-century Swedish immigrant house, a playground, picnic shelters, and more. Just south of Lindström, this park covers nearly 100 acres. Start your visit by exploring the Karl Oskar House. Interpretive tours are available on the weekend, but the grounds are always open. Afterward, find one of the trailheads near the parking lots located around the park. There are 1.8 miles of family-friendly hiking throughout the park. Trails are primarily fields or packed dirt through forests and grasslands. As one of the best places to hike in Chisago Lakes with kids, parking is widely available, and there are portable toilets too.
Franconia Sculpture Park
While not technically a hiking trail, Franconia Sculpture Park in Shafer is an outstanding place for families to meander and explore together. The safe paths are free from bikes and other vehicles, allowing our littlest trekkers to roam free. Here, grassy paths wind around impressive sculptures (some of which are interactive) across a 50-acre park, which means kids will be thoroughly entertained along the route too. Challenge kids to find their favorite sculpture, while asking them questions about what they hear, see, and smell along the way too. Lastly, entrance is free (though donations are appreciated). There is ample parking, as well as well-maintained bathrooms in the gallery.
Tips for Hiking Chisago Lakes with Kids
Before you embark on one of the best hikes in Chisago Lakes with kids, there are a few things to remember. Here are some tips for hiking in Minnesota with kids:
- Dress for the weather. Minnesota’s weather can change quickly, especially in the fall and winter. Bring layers and proper footwear to ensure your family is prepared!
- Pack plenty of water, snacks, bug repellent, and sunscreen as needed.
- Tell someone your hiking plan. Just in case you lose cell service, make sure someone else knows your plan for the day.
- Make a safety plan with your kids. Some of our hikes include rivers + rocky cliffs; make sure you’ve spoken to your kids about your expectations and plans for staying safe while exploring.
- Keep it fun! Challenge your kids to feats of strength or speed, spot birds and insects, play games, and encourage them in fun ways to keep them motivated to finish strong.
Best Places to Eat After Hiking in Chisago Lakes with Kids
One of our biggest tips for hiking in Chisago Lakes with kids is knowing where to eat afterward! Our communities feature several fantastic eateries for families, with everything from pizza to sandwiches on the menu. Alternatively, we also have a few fun places to stop for a quick coffee or ice cream to fuel your adventures! No matter which trail you choose, a Chisago Lakes eatery is located near the trailhead. Here are a few of our favorite stops:
- Chisago City: The Stone Inn and Wagon Wheel Café & Pizza
- Lindström: Gustaf’s on Main Eatery, Anderson’s Ice Cream Shoppe, and Northwoods Roasterie
- Center City: The Pizza Pub
- Shafer: Ole’s Crossroads Bar & Grill
- Taylors Falls: Coffee Talk, The Drive In, Juneberry Cafe, and Schoony’s Malt Shop & Pizzeria
We hope you found this article featuring the top hikes in Chisago Lakes with kids helpful in planning your own outdoor adventures! From state parks to charming regional trails, our fantastic communities have plenty of options for hiking with kids. Thank you for stop