*Editor’s note: This article has been updated with more details about visiting the Quaking Bog during the winter months.
Uptown has seemingly endless opportunities for entertainment. Much of that comes from the many restaurants and retailers on this side of town, but there are also many great places to hike, run and cycle nearby — even during the winter months.
Next time you’re in Uptown, consider swinging through one of these four places for a quick winter hike.
1. The George Haun Trail
The Bass Lake Nature Preserve is a 52-acre space with a 1.4-mile paved bike trail looping around, known as the George Haun Trail.
The preserve is what’s left of an 80-acre natural space, which was turned into a public dumping ground during the early 1900s. Throughout the century, many restoration efforts took place, bringing this wetland area to what it is today.
The trail looping around it was constructed in the late 1980s and named after George Haun, who served as the director of the Parks and Recreation Department. The preserve is in St. Louis Park, almost directly across the street from the city’s Rec Center.
Coming from Uptown, it might be best to hop on the Midtown Greenway, which turns into the N. Cedar Lake Regional Trail, and exit at Beltline boulevard. It takes 15 to 20 minutes if you’re cycling.
This trail is a great way to add a bit more scenery to your daily commute. It’s also a common route for people looking to take a quick stroll outside, and for many runners, too, who add this stretch to their routine during the summer months.
2. Wolfe Park, Near Excelsior & Grand
Once you’ve made your way around the Bass Lake Nature Preserve, you can cross the street (literally) to hike or cycle around Wolfe Park.
Both trails are in the Wolfe Park Neighborhood, which makes it easy to move from one to the other without long stretches in between.
During the summer months, Wolfe Park attracts everybody from young anglers to lone walkers to well-attended community events. While foot traffic slows during the rest of the year, the park still sees runners, cyclists, and people taking advantage of the hill for sledding.
This park offers 1.36 miles of windy paved trails and bridges that take you along natural prairie grass, wooded areas, and a pond where ducks, turtles, and fish can be spotted (in the spring and summer).
3. The Quaking Bog in Theodore Wirth Regional Park
The Quaking Bog is down the road from the Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden and Bird Sanctuary, offering hiking and biking trails throughout a densely wooded area, and namely, a bog.
This area sees a good amount of traffic, given that it’s a part of the Theodore Wirth Regional Park.
This park, along with the neighboring garden, has a pay parking lot for those driving in, however, many of the lots are closed off and unavailable during the winter months. There is street parking in nearby neighborhoods, though.
Commuting in for cyclists is a bit easier; they can be seen riding in, seamlessly moving from road to trails as they arrive.
After arrival, signs clearly mark the trails to guide hikers and cyclists in the right directions, helping visitors get the most out of their time on the trails.
Even with the humming of traffic in the distance, this area seems intact — aside from the beat trails — giving visitors a place to experience a diverse natural area, without traveling too far from home.
The best time to visit this area is during the fall, as everything seems to transition from a deep green to bright yellows and oranges. However, the experience differs from season to season, which makes this a great place to visit time and time again.
When you go, one of the first areas you should wander through is the bog itself. The trail takes you through the wetland, seemingly hovering over the vegetation and water.
In the Winter
I recently visited the Quaking Bog after a fair snowfall. On a bright, sunny morning, I was fortunate enough to be one of the first in the wooded area for a hike.
Coniferous trees lining the roadways and trails carried a weighty amount of fresh snow atop their branches, while those without leaves remaining simply let snow fall gently to the ground below.
The trails, after a good snowfall, hide tracks from various wildlife that call the area home, along with those from cross-country skiers and cyclists who visit the woods all year. In the bog, deep impressions are left in the icy path, showing numerous boot sizes making their way through.
Even during the winter months, it seems that many remain dedicated to visiting this part of town. But, it’s much quieter, with far fewer people wandering along the trail, which I think makes for a completely different visiting experience.
If you haven’t already, make sure to visit these trails during the winter months.
Just remember, though, bundle up.
4. The Cedar Lake Bike Trails
I discovered this place during the summer while weaving around Lake Calhoun and Lake Harriet.
There are many ways to connect with the Cedar Lake trails, but I normally exit the Midtown Greenway at Dean Parkway, crossing through the small green space to Cedar Lake Parkway. From there, you just keep pedaling.
My favorite point on this trail is at the northern most point of the lake, where many of the wooded trails weave close to the lake’s edge.
In the summer, cyclists, anglers, hammockers, and everybody else seem to stop by for a quick minute of peace, before getting back on the trails.
Just like the bike trails that run past this wooded area, many beat trails intersect, often leading from one look out to another.
And in the winter, this summer treasure turns into a cross-country skier’s training grounds.
I’m not sure there’s a bad time of year to visit this area, and similar to the Quaking Bog, these trails give visitors a different experience depending on the season.
Although, my best advice is to go see for yourself.