12 Feb Snowshoeing at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum
There was finally enough snow on the ground to break in our brand new snowshoes. So, we packed up the car and made our way to one of the best places to snowshoe in Minnesota: the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum.
The arboretum is home to 16 miles of snowshoe and cross-country ski trails that are spread out over 1,000+ acres of land. Snowshoe trails are a mixture of groomed and not groomed pathways. There are plenty of hills to climb up and down, which makes for a nice workout and a varied landscape. If you don’t have your own pair of snowshoes, you can rent them from the arboretum for $6/hour and $4/each additional hour.
We were gifted our snowshoes for Christmas over a year ago, and throughout the past year, luck was not on our side. Up until now, the winter days that we actually happened to be home were virtually snowless. One would think that a snowless winter might be nice, but it’s not when you want to partake in outdoor adventures! Micah and I were itching to finally get outside and test out our new gear.
The arboretum was running a special for free admission during the entire month of January, so it was a deal we just couldn’t pass up! When we arrived, we were directed to the main building to pick up a map of the trails. As we were suiting up by the trailhead, we realized that we had barely unpacked our shoes from the original packaging. We put our poles together, strapped on our shoes and set off on the trail nearby.
Because our snowshoes were brand new, it took us a bit of trial and error to get them to fit properly. After a few stops on the side of the trail, we were good to go.
We weren’t sure which path would be our best option, so we decided to start out on the trail that led to the Wood Duck Pond. As we walked, we passed maple taps in the trees, squirrels scurrying up and down trees, and the Wood Duck Pond which was frozen to the core—the farther we hiked, the thinner the crowds became until it was just us and the trees. I loved that even though there were quite a few people out on the trails, you still had peace and quiet due to the large amount of trails winding through the arboretum.
Signs marked the trail names at many of the crossroads, but somehow we still managed to get completely turned around. We ended up hiking somewhere between the Western Ridge Trail, the Prairie Loop and the Wildflower Area, but I still couldn’t tell you the exact path we took! Thankfully, we eventually found a sign that directed us back towards the visitor’s center. I’m estimating we hiked around 2-3 miles, but we will have to head back and try again to know for sure!
In addition to snowshoeing and cross-country skiing, the arboretum has plenty of other activities to explore during the winter (or really any season). Japanese gardens have always intrigued me, so I had to walk through the small Japanese garden on site. Seeing the perfectly placed plants covered in snow was a welcomed winter treat.
Some of the indoor activities that you can warm up with are a conservatory filled with thriving plants, a library, a restaurant, a gift store and more.
It was great to finally get out and break in our snowshoes, and we couldn’t have found a better place to do it. We loved escaping to nature so close to the city, and hope to give cross-country skiing a try at the arboretum sometime soon!
- The arboretum is open almost every day from 8 a.m. to sunset, but it is closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.
- Admission is $12 per person.
- Snowshoe rentals are $6 per hour and $4 per each additional hour.
Have you ever been snowshoeing before?