It’s easy to forget in this day and age of a golf cart on just about every course, but golf is a wonderful way to get some exercise. In fact, walking a golf course (depending upon your ability to keep the ball in the fairway) can require covering four to eight miles (or an estimated 17,000 footsteps) up and down rolling hills or extreme elevation. That’s enough of a “workout” to benefit your cardiovascular system.
But what if you want more of a walk? Or more of a workout? Then Minnesota is the place for you. The Land of 10,000 Lakes is home to beautiful golf courses sprinkled amongst some of the most exhilarating and breath-taking hikes you can find. All over the state, an avid outdoorsman or woman will find great hiking in close proximity to one of the area’s great courses. Here are a few ideas for planning that next round coupled with an incredible hike afterward.
A 3-Mile Walk Near Sabin and Wynne Lakes
Giants Ridge Golf & Ski Resort is located near Biwabik in the quiet and beautiful northern woods of the Iron Range. Its two championship courses, The Legend and the Quarry, are built amongst the towering pines along the western shores of Lake Sabin – in fact, hole No. 17 of The Legend includes a perilous (and gorgeous) drive across one bay of the lake.
Head east across the Embarrass River that separates Sabin Lake and Wynne Lake and you find a short three-mile trail that traverses both lakes and the river. It’s a great trek among the colorful hardwoods to warm up for your round, or a beautiful hike at the end of the day with the sun setting across the water. Depending upon where you stay at Giants Ridge, the hike can start close by your back door.
In addition, The Wilderness at Fortune Bay golf course is just a quick trip down the road in Tower, there are several easy-to-moderate hikes in Bear Head Lake State Park.
Views of Lake Superior on the Superior Hiking Trail
Superior National Golf Course in Lutsen is just a seven-minute drive from the trailhead of the Superior Hiking Trail, which includes the spectacular Oberg Mountain lookout. The 16.7-mile track is perhaps the premier hiking trail in the state, yet is lightly trafficked (except when the countryside is ablaze with fall colors). The trail is rugged and hilly (and rated difficult), but the expansive vistas of Lake Superior are worth it.
3 Brainerd Lakes Area Trails to Choose From
The central lakes region of the state near Brainerd is home to numerous lakes, golf courses, and hiking trails – all very accessible. The trouble is choosing. Grand View Lodge features 27 golf holes at The Pines and 18 more at The Preserve. You will find The Classic, Pine Beach East, and Pine Beach West at Madden’s on Gull Lake. Cragun’s Resort on Gull Lake is home to Bobby’s Legacy course, Dutch’s Legacy, and the Reversible 9. Breezy Point Resort features the Traditional Course, Whitebirch Course, and Deacon’s Lodge. And Golden Eagle Golf Club is nearby in Fifty Lakes.
The hikes to choose from include the Paul Bunyan State Trail and the Mississippi River: Brainerd to Little Falls Trail, which are both rated easy, plus the Crow Wing Confluence Trail and the Pillsbury State Forest Lakes Trail, which are rated moderate. (As far as choosing a lake in the state of 10,000 of them, you are on your own.)
Lake Carlos State Park or Andes Tower Hills Snowboarding Trails
Arrowwood Resort in Alexandria and Thumper Pond Resort in Ottertail are home to great resort golf and there is plenty of hiking to finish your days outdoors. Lake Carlos State Park (rated easy) is a 2.8-mile loop and Andes Tower Hills Snowboarding Trails has a 2.1 mile, moderately rated loop – both are located near Alexandria and offer great fall hikes through the colorful hardwoods of west central Minnesota.
Jail Trail or Lake Wobegon Trail in St. Cloud
If you are near St. Cloud, where you will find the Territory Golf Club, make sure to hit the North Loop-Jail Trail (easy) in George Friedrich Park or the Lake Wobegon Trail (moderate) near St. Joseph. A couple of great names and even better hikes.
Hiking Trails in the Heart of the City
If you are looking for a beautiful urban hike after your golf round, the Twin Cities is the place to hit the trail. The golf courses include everything from the Chaska Town Course, Edinburgh USA, the newly renovated Braemar Golf Course, and Rush Creek Golf Club on the west side to the Royal Golf Club, Stoneridge Golf Club, and Prestwick Golf Club out east. Check out the hikes near Minneapolis and the West Metro here and the hikes in the East Metro near St. Paul and surrounding suburbs here.
South of the Twin Cities you’ll find The Wilds Golf Club and Legends Club in Prior Lake, Willinger’s Golf Club in Northfield, Stonebrooke Golf Club in Shakopee, and Ridges at Sand Creek in Jordan. Those excellent golf tracks are a short drive to any of the metro area hikes.
So, the next time you pack your clubs in the car for a day of golf, make sure to bring your hiking shoes. You won’t regret a memorable day outdoors during Minnesota’s most picturesque season!