Warming house on Picnic Island

Fort Snelling State Park is one of the best places to ski/hike/bike within the Twin Cities metro area. It works for all skill levels, as it's fairly flat. You can go around either or both of the islands (Picnic and Pike), as well as on a couple of other trails in the park. You can also continue onto the Minnehaha Falls park area if you like to go more than 10K in one outing. You will see more wildlife here than anywhere else in the state, including red fox, lots of birds and squirrels, and the American Bald Eagle. Almost no one leaves the park without having a close encounter with some of the park's enormous herd of white tailed deer.

Just past the airport, take the Post Road exit to drive down into the park (follow signs to gift shop). Talk to a ranger in the interpretive center, who will help you figure out where to hike, ski, bike, etc. You can also check out a GPS unit to go on a geo-caching safari (following clues and inputing solutions to find your next clue/prize).

Once the home of native peoples, this area was considered sacred due to the confluence of the two rivers, Minnesota and Mississippi. This "source of life" can be felt as you make your way through the park's abundant nature scenes. There is a trail on the perimeter of each of the two islands. Pike is the larger island, with a pedestrian bridge at its entrance (no driving on this one), and has additional trails through its center. You can hear the river ice cracking at the far point on warm mid-winter days while the water continues to make its way south. The smaller island, Picnic, can be accessed by car, and has a warming house with huge sliding barn doors for an indoor warmup next to the enormous four-sided fireplace (pictured). There is also lake access within the park, with a swimming beach. Picnic tables and benches abound throughout the park.