Minnesota's state parks and trails offer outdoor activities for all

Our May 2022 workshop was an engaging presentation on Minnesota’s wonderful system of state parks and trails by Arielle Courtney, partnership development consultant for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. She began with a summary of the health benefits of getting outdoors, especially in natural areas, and why “two hours outdoors is the new 10,000 steps.”

View the slides and video recording of UMRA’s 2022 Living Well Workshop with Arielle Courtney.

Courtney then talked about the many ways the state of Minnesota can help us get our “dose” of outdoors. Minnesota has 75 state parks and recreation areas, 25 state trails, and 35 river trails spread across the state’s hardwood forests, pine forests, and plains. These places offer an abundance of ways to experience them, such as hiking, canoeing, fishing, camping, driving, and listening to interpretive programs. There are activities and facilities for all ages and abilities, including programs and hikes for little kids, trails, and even all-terrain motorized wheelchairs and off-road track chairs for the mobility impaired.

Active visitors can join the Minnesota State Parks and Trails Hiking Club. There are 68 designated hiking trails in the parks, often showcasing the park’s most scenic features. In the middle of each trail is a secret word. As you accumulate words and mileage, you can earn patches and even free camping nights.  

Another club is the Passport Club, which doesn’t require hiking but just visiting a park and stamping a book. Accumulated visits then earn rewards similar to those of the Hiking Club.

I Can Fish!
Within the state parks you can fish without a license; you can check out free fishing gear, and, for a small fee, you can join the I Can Fish! program to learn how to fish. You can also join an I Can Camp! program and learn other outdoor skills like canoeing. 

Many parks also have kits that can be checked out for activities like birding, orienteering, and KiDS Activity Booklets.

Courtney highlighted a number of parks for particular activities:

For families and grandkids

For the less mobile

  • Wheelchair accessible camping and hiking at Lake Bemidji State Park
  • Traveling along the accessible Root River, Douglas, and Howard Munger trails.

For those seeking solitude

Besides visiting there are also several other ways one can be involved with Minnesota’s state parks and trails. You can become a campground host, where you stay at a campground for several weeks and monitor its activities. You can join a friends group for a particular park or trail and volunteer at the park or fundraise for it. And, at the U of M, you can enroll in the Minnesota Master Naturalist program to become a steward and interpreter of the parks and outdoors.

Minnesota’s state parks and trails are a wonderful resource, waiting for us to enjoy and nurture them.

—Ron Matross, UMRA president-elect and Program Committee chair

Publication date: 
May 27, 2022
At A Glance
Tuesday, May 24, 2022

2022 Annual Meeting and Forum

Welcome back!

Campus Club, Fourth Floor
West Wing Dining Room
Coffman Memorial Union


10:45 a.m.

Check in


11:15 a.m.

Buffet lunch


Annual Meeting and Forum

Featured speaker
John Coleman, dean
College of Liberal Arts

Chicken in heirloom tomato sauce with roasted Yukon Gold potatoes and seasonal vegetables. GF.
For vegetarian/vegan option, please request when making your reservation.

RSVP by May 13

Prepayment of $25 per person.

Reserve and pay online or contact Diane Young at young054@umn.edu.

Cancellations and refunds will be honored until May 13. We are not able to accommodate registrations on the day of the event.

For a discount of $1 per hour in University parking facilities, use the QR code on the back of your UMRA membership card when exiting. Credit cards only.

UMRA policy requires all participants to be vaccinated. Masks are optional.

Make your reservation today!

Unable to attend in person? Please register and join UMRA’s 2022 Annual Meeting and Forum via Zoom.