Follow the Trails in Detroit Lakes
Detroit Lakes, Minnesota, is a beautiful destination for anyone who loves outdoor activities like biking and hiking. With miles of scenic trails and stunning natural landscapes, there are seemingly endless opportunities to explore this region.
Let the Good Times Roll!
The diverse terrain, natural beauty, and well-maintained trails make for some of the best mountain biking experiences in the Midwest. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced rider, Detroit Lakes has something for everyone.
Here, we’ll take a closer look at some of the best biking and hiking options in and around Detroit Lakes.
Detroit Mountain, 4 miles east of Detroit Lakes, is a popular destination for mountain biking enthusiasts for good reason. This ski area has been transformed into a year-round recreational destination, with 13 miles of cross country singletrack and eight downhill trails that offer a thrilling and challenging experience for bikers of all skill levels.
Experience endless adventure on the contour flow trails, or, for the more daring and skilled riders, take on the lift-accessed downhill trails that descend the mountainside with berms, rollers, jumps, drops and striking custom-made wooden features. Bring your bike or rent mountain and electric bikes on site.
The mountain biking trails at Maplelag Resort are some of the best in the region, with several different trail options for riders of different skill levels. Open to riders from spring through fall, the terrain is challenging with plenty of elevation changes, rocks, roots and technical features to keep riders engaged and challenged. Riders can expect a mix of singletrack trails and wider, more open trails that wind through the beautiful wooded Minnesota landscape and along the shores of scenic lakes. The Maplelag trails are host to the “LagChilada Challenge” which is a 25 mile challenge for riders to complete the entire trail system in one ride or day.
This family-owned and operated cross-country ski resort hosts the Laddies Loppet mountain bike races every Labor Day weekend. Held since 1990, it is one of the oldest mountain bike races in the state.
Mountain View Recreational Trail
For more experienced riders, the Mountain View Recreational Trail is a must-visit destination. Located just a few miles southeast of Detroit Lakes, this trail offers a bit of a challenge, with some moderate hills and rugged terrain. However, the reward is breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside and wildlife sightings, including deer, foxes, and birds of prey.
Mountain View Recreation Area boasts 3 miles of winding singletrack trails that weave through a mature, mixed hardwood forest. Although the terrain may appear intimidating, the trails are designed to provide a challenge without being overwhelming. Parking for 10 to 15 vehicles is available along Tower Road.
One of the best ways to explore the area on two wheels is by taking a ride on the Heartland Trail. This paved segment of the Heartland State Trail takes the rider east from the Detroit Lakes underpass at U.S. Highway 10 for five miles, weaving through a canopy of hardwood and pine trees interspersed with fragrant wetlands. In early summer, look for the Showy Lady’s Slipper on the trail’s edge. If you’re ready for a break at mile four, a scenic overlook provides a spectacular view of Acorn Lake.
The multi-use trail allows you to walk your pooch, take a morning jog or go in-line skating. There is also accessibility for electric motorized scooters and wheelchairs. In the winter months, skate skiers and snowmobilers may take to the trail. This segment of the Heartland Trail will eventually span from the trail in Park Rapids to Moorhead.
Take a Hike!
If you prefer exploring on foot, Detroit Lakes offers several hiking options that showcase the natural beauty of the area. Although early spring and fall offer the optimal times to explore the trails, summer treks can be a pleasure with some protection from biting insects. You might want to wear a hat and long sleeves and use bug spray to make sure the insects don’t ruin your hike.
Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge
One of the most popular destinations for hikers is the Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge, located 18 miles northeast of the city. The refuge features more than 43,000 acres of protected land, including wetlands, forests and prairie habitats. The hiking trails range from easy to moderate, with options for shorter walks or longer hikes that can take several hours. Some of the highlights include the Old Indian Trail, through old growth forest, and the Bear Paw Trail that leads to historic log cabins. An accessible Discovery Trail is located near the refuge’s visitor center. The quarter mile trail includes an accessible spur to the Eagle Eye overlook, ideal for a picnic with a view of a marsh and a 12 foot tall eagle sculpture.
North Country Trail
The North Country National Scenic Trail will be the longest continuous hiking trail in the country, spanning 4600 miles from New York to North Dakota. With 60 miles of the premier trail within the Detroit Lakes region, hikers have options for shorter jaunts to multiple day excursions. Several trailheads provide varying miles that take you through and around prairie fields, wetlands, forests, lakes, rivers and ponds. History enthusiasts will pass areas used by first settlers, work of the Civilian Conservation Corps, life of the Ojibwe tribes and the Continental Divide. The trail covers 14 miles within Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge, with entry points at parking lots located at Pine Lake and at 400th Avenue. The latter trail includes a 1000-foot boardwalk through a tamarack spruce bog.
Dunton Locks County Park
Another great option for hiking enthusiasts is Dunton Locks County Park, located just three miles south of Detroit Lakes. The park features nearly four miles of hiking trails that wind through a wooded area and along the shores of Lake Sallie and Muskrat Lake. The park features two picnic shelters, interpretive history signs, two fishing piers, a wooden bridge and a boat tram that transports boats between the two lakes. While hiking the northern trails through hardwood forests, you may see remnants of burial mounds constructed by the ancestors of the Sioux People.
For a more urban hiking experience, the Detroit Lakes city trail system offers multiple options for exploring the community and its parks. The trails range from easy to moderate and offer a chance to see some of the area’s historic landmarks, including the Historic Holmes Theatre, Detroit Lakes Library and the city’s famous Pavilion.
Just a mile outside the city are two exceptional hiking options. For a prairie experience, hike the 1.6 mile Prairie Marsh Trail at the Detroit Lakes Wetland Management District located one mile north of Detroit Lakes on North Tower Road. At Sucker Creek Preserve, situated just over a mile east and south of Detroit Lakes, two paved trails wind through woods and by streams with a marshwalk.
DL Bike Shop offers a range of services designed to enhance the overall cycling experience for locals and visitors. From bike fittings and rentals to repairs and maintenance, the shop’s experienced technicians are dedicated to ensuring that each bike performs at its best. Be sure to call ahead about rentals as supplies are limited due to high demand.
Brews to Choose
After a day of exercise, treat yourself at Bucks Mill Brewing. The brewery features a spacious taproom with plenty of seating and a relaxed atmosphere, making it a great place to enjoy a stellar selection of beers, including a variety of IPAs, stouts, and lagers. Gourmet popcorn and Great Northern pizza add to the appeal.
Keep your coffee local at La Barista, earning buzz inside the Washington Square Mall. The menu boasts a delectable selection of specialty iced, hot, and blended coffees, as well as hearty breakfast options and mouthwatering lunch favorites. Choose from a variety of breakfast wraps and paninis, filled with fresh eggs, meats, cheeses, or vegetables, or indulge in seasonal salads, sandwiches, and tempting bites.
Detroit Lakes is a gem for mountain biking and hiking enthusiasts. With its diverse terrain, stunning natural beauty, and well-maintained trails, this charming destination offers some of the best experiences in the Midwest. From the scenic Heartland Trail to the rugged Mountain View Recreational Trail, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. So, grab your bike, pack your gear, and get ready for an unforgettable adventure in Detroit Lakes.