Our Favorite Fall Hikes near Leech Lake
October 1, 2021
Whether you visit Leech Lake for the last months of open water fishing, or just to soak up what’s left of this crisp warm weather, we love the color and changing leaves.
One of our favorite reasons to visit Leech Lake, however, is for the gorgeous fall hikes. It’s too late to jump in the clear blue water, and with this gorgeous fall foliage, why would we want to waste time doing anything other than taking in these trails?
Here are our favorite must-hike trails during fall!
If you’re up for also seeing some history near Walker, MN, the Heartland Trail happens to be our oldest paved trail. That won’t make it too rugged — it’s also the most recently resurfaced.
In 1997, this 27-mile that starts near Walker and goes to Park Rapids reopened. It once again became Minnesota’s top trails no matter what time of year it was. In fact, if you’re not able to visit Leech Lake this fall, you can still enjoy some premier snowmobiling here in the winter!
The Heartland Trail near Leech Lake has everything: lakes, foliage, frequent wildlife and flowers native to our area. But you’ll also find trails and recreation areas that connect with each other and are accessible. For more information about this trail, check out our entry here!
North Country National Scenic Trail
This trail is a little bit in progress, but no worries for your hiking trip to Leech Lake! The Cass County portion of this trail is complete. When completed, this entire trail will feature 3,200 miles of walking trails connected to the Lewis & Clark trail in western North Dakota, which then connects to the Appalachian Trail in upstate New York.
While the longest footpath in the United States isn’t quite ready — yet — it’s ready for hiking near Leech Lake!
This trail enters Cass County from the west, and travels through the most scenic border of the Chippewa National Forest along the south. The trail also intersects our beloved Heartland Trail, as well as the famed Shingobee Recreation Area. On the other side, it meets another favorite on this list — the Paul Bunyan Recreation Trail. From there you can hike east across Cass County, not only taking in the wilderness, lakes and wetlands, but through the white and red pine forests that are hundreds of years old.
Paul Bunyan State Trail
Need a wheelchair-accessible hiking trail? Are you more of a fall bicyclist? Are you just here for a traditional hike? This is the trail for you.
Take a 120 bike ride from Crow Wing State Park near Brainerd to Walker. Then head to Lake Bemidji State Park from there. If you’ve completed it, you’ve ridden the longest Minnesota bike trail there is!
Of course, this is great for our hikers too. It’s also great for in-line skating, snowmobiling and as mentioned above, is equipped with wheelchair access — including electric wheelchairs. This is another item on our list that comes full of history, with hundreds of years of inhabitation.
Whether you’re setting out on a backpacking trip, a day hike or a nice camping trip on the trails, we have the trails for you. Come enjoy the fall color and the weather while it lasts!
And make sure to enjoy all that Walker, MN and the Leech Lake area has to offer in the meantime!