In St. Paul until Dec. 20. Want to experience beautiful snowy nature.
December 16, 2017 2:36 PM   Subscribe

I have four days to find something wonderful and lovely to do outside, preferably near St. Paul. If it were not winter, I'd go kayaking. Is there a lovely outdoor winter spot to walk, maybe near water or unique-to-me outdoor areas? A special snow-covered lake? Should I get skis even though I've never been on skis?

Any suggestions?

I'm not into ice skating; it's more about physical exertion than taking in nature, and also my ankles aren't the best and I can't handle an injury right now (I'm traveling a lot).

I thought about cross-country skiing, but I don't know where to go that rents equipment and will have lovely quiet trails or something. Apparently there's not so much snow right now, so many of the usual places aren't open yet? I'm fine with renting my own equipment and then going...somewhere? Can I just ski on normal trails or on a field somewhere? Should I try snowshoes?

I looked at the river from Father Hennepin Bluffs Park yesterday, it was nice, but I couldn't really get close to the river. However, that general kind of thing appeals to me.

I'd like to find something not too involved; I'm interested in getting to the North Shore, but it looks like a major time commitment and I can only put in a few hours on this, unfortunately. Also, I'm not sure that driving is my best thing.

I'm also considering going to Stillwater, partly to see the Ice Castle, but I'm more partial to less spectacular activities. I'd mainly want to walk around outside and be surprised by nature and architecture, then get some nice tea somewhere.

Context: Born and raised in Atlanta, currently based in North Carolina, excited by new weather conditions, considering whether to move to Minneapolis. Pretty sure my gloves aren't warm enough, but willing to get better ones.

(Part of my mission here is to meet people, too, so meetup ideas would be welcome, although I know it's short notice. Am going to see "A Klingon Christmas Carol" tomorrow afternoon at 4:30!)
posted by amtho to Travel & Transportation around Twin Cities, MN (6 answers total)
I would definitely try snowshoes! They're a lot easier than skis for beginners and they don't require a day permit. The snow isn't ideal right now for them, but it's not bad. I believe Fort Snelling rents them for a few bucks at the office.
posted by JannaK at 4:01 PM on December 16, 2017

Lake Elmo Park Reserve has a lit trail for night cross-country-skiing/snowshoeing/hiking.
posted by glibhamdreck at 4:06 PM on December 16, 2017 [1 favorite]

Minnehaha Falls should be mostly frozen by now and a frozen waterfall is my all-time favorite example of nature in winter.
posted by Flannery Culp at 6:18 PM on December 16, 2017 [2 favorites]

Best answer: The falls are indeed frozen right now and the park is right on the blue line light rail. I always love walking along the creek year round. I suppose that's why we live right by it.
posted by advicepig at 7:55 PM on December 16, 2017

If you can get a ride to Loring Park, near downtown Minneapolis, the holidazzle Festival is going on this weekend. Outdoor movie in the park tomorrow at 5:00 pm is Frozen!
posted by Malla at 7:59 PM on December 16, 2017 [1 favorite]

Best answer: While Fort Snelling State Park has Wita Tanka (Pike Island) I personally prefer Crosby Farm Park across the river. At either place you are right at the river.
This spot is a sacred place, and you will feel it if you are a person that feels these things. The confluence of the Mississippi and the Minnesota (Wita Tanka being the point of land there) is called Bdote. It’s where humans came to be on Earth, and also where the earth meets the heavens.
Wita Tanka is also where hundreds of Dakota met disease or death at the hands of the European settlers.
Walk all along the beach if you like, and over the marsh boardwalk, and the rugged trail on the ridge at Crosby Farm Park. It’s not even cold yet - I’m not even wearing a jacket these days so a scarf and mittens should be fine unless you plan to stay still.
Hidden Falls Park just upstream from Crosby is also lovely, and Minnehaha Creek dumps into the river north again.
Go to Mound Park on the East Side to see all of the valley left by the River Warren. Awe inspiring.

And the Mississippi is never safely frozen. Don’t die in cold water.

We don’t really have any snow yet either. No sense in skiing or snowshoeing.
posted by littlewater at 9:01 PM on December 16, 2017 [5 favorites]

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