The Park Rapids Lakes Area is a hub for spectacular hiking trails. Whether you're planning a morning walk or a camping weekend, hikers can find a get-away to suit their style. Just remember to bring your camera, plenty of water and the bug spray.
Heartland State Trail, a 49-mile multiple use, paved trail between Park Rapids and Cass Lake. The Heartland Trail was one of the first rail-to-trail projects in the country, an asphalt ribbon laid on a level abandoned railroad grade. Trail users pass numerous lakes, rivers and streams. The trail skirts northern hardwood forests and stands of jack, red and white pine, as well as spruce firs. The occasional majestic white pine towers overhead and wildflowers color the trail sides. Hikers may see whitetail deer, raccoon, red fox, porcupine, beaver and muskrat and lucky ones may spot coyote, weasel, mink, bobcat or black bear. Many varieties of birds can be seen along the trail from bald eagles to bluebirds. Trail side parks are located at Park Rapids, Dorset, Nevis, Akeley and Walker. For more information see: www.dnr.state.mn.us/state_trails/heartland/index.html
Itasca State Park, 49 miles of hiking trails take you through some of the most scenic parts of the 32,690-acre park. The park also has 3.25 miles of self-guided trails and 1.5 miles of handicapped accessible trails. Depending on the season, hikers may find 27 species of orchids and abundant wildflowers, as well as old growth red and white pines and historic buildings. For more information see: http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/state_parks/itasca/trails.html
Lake Country Scenic Byway, The Lake Country Scenic Byway is a haven for all hiking and nature enthusiasts. There are more than 20 sites, forests, recreation areas, parks, etc. throughout the byway region. http://www.parkrapids.com/pdf/Scenic Byway Map.pdf
North Country National Scenic Trail, a premier footpath that stretches for about 4,200 miles, and when complete will be the longest continuous hiking trail in the United States. The section of the trail in the Chippewa National Forest is 68-miles long, meandering through a pristine terrain of lakes and forests. Hikers can enjoy the cool waters of many back country lakes and white pine forests, lakes, wetlands, pine and hardwood forests. Old homesteads are hidden in the Woodtick Fields. A section of the trail crosses state Hwy 34 between Akeley and Walker and County 4 north of Park Rapids and is complete for about 25 miles. Another completed segment starts in Itasca State Park and heads west into Becker County. The trail offers hiking, backpacking, snowshoeing and backcountry cross country skiing adventure. For more information see: http://www.northcountrytrail.org
Shingobee Recreation Area, 6 miles of hiking trails in the Chippewa National Forest with access on state Hwy 34, 24 miles east of Park Rapids. The highest point in the Chippewa National Forest lies in the Shingobee Hills area.elevation 1631 feet. This was the site of one of the first downhill ski areas in the state and continues to be a popular year-round recreation area. A six-mile (9.4km) hiking trail loops along two small lakes and the Shingobee River Valley. Seeing bald eagles is common as the forest supports one of the highest breeding densities in the continental United States. Hiking is available year-round, but may be wet in spring. For more information see: http://www.fs.fed.us/r9/forests/chippewa/
Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge, 35704 Co. Hwy 26, Rochert, 24 miles west of Park Rapids on Hwy 34 and north on County 26. There are miles of hiking and interpretive trails in this unique 43,000-acre preserve established in 1938 as a perpetual breeding ground and sanctuary for migratory birds and other wildlife. The refuge offers one of the most diverse and complete collections of wildlife habitats and wild lands in the world. As a premier natural resource on the Pine-To-Prairie Birding Trail, the Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge is one of the best places in Minnesota to view birds and wildlife. The refuge is also home to visitor Science & Nature Centers. All programs and parking are free. (218)847-2641. For more information see: http://www.fws.gov/midwest/tamarac