ATV Trail Riding

13 Best ATV Trails in Minnesota

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Minnesota is known for its diverse and exciting ATVs and side-by-side trails that attract off-road enthusiasts from across the Midwest.

The state boasts trails that cater to riders of all skill levels, from beginners to seasoned pros. These trails offer breathtaking scenery, well-maintained paths, and thrilling riding experiences that make the adventure truly unforgettable.

In this article, we will delve into some of the most popular ATV trails in Minnesota, including Spider Lake ATV and OHV Trails, Fort Ripley Trail and Ripley Connector, and Emily-Outing and Moose River.

Additionally, we will cover information for out-of-state visitors and discuss the unique features of each trail system. So, strap on your helmet and prepare to discover the incredible off-road adventures that await you in Minnesota.

Key Takeaways

  • Minnesota offers a variety of top-rated ATV trails for riders of all skill levels.
  • Trails like Spider Lake, Fort Ripley, and Emily-Outing provide unforgettable off-road experiences.
  • It’s essential for out-of-state visitors to familiarize themselves with relevant rules and regulations before hitting the trails.

Spider Lake ATV and OHV Trails

spider lake side-by-side ATV Trails
Image Credit AllTrails

Spider Lake ATV and OHV Trails, located in Pine River, Minnesota, offer some of the best ATV riding experiences in the Midwest.

Spider Lake trails boast 29 miles of diverse terrain that caters to riders of all skill levels. These trails are a part of the larger Foot Hills State Forest system, providing endless exploration opportunities. The trail system encompasses various terrains such as mud, rocks, hills, sand dunes, and more, making for an exciting ride.

Nearby amenities include:

  • Camping sites within the forest
  • A gas station with ice cream by the scoop at the 64 Stop Gas Station
  • Hotels in proximity for those who prefer not to camp

Spider Lake Trails cater to ATVs, SxS, dirt bikes, 4×4, and other off-road vehicles. Remember, a Minnesota trail pass is required for out-of-state riders.

Riders seeking a true off-roading adventure amidst the beautiful Minnesota landscape will find all they need at Spider Lake Trails.

Fort Ripley Trail and Ripley Connector

Fort Ripley Trail

The Fort Ripley Trail and Ripley Connector offer a fun and easy riding experience for ATV and UTV enthusiasts. With over 70 miles of trails and connections to the Pine Center Trail System, it provides ample riding opportunities during the summer season.

Some key attractions and activities in the area include:

  • Crow Wing Southern Loop: This trail connects the Pine Center Trail with the Fort Ripley Trail and Ripley Connection, providing access to the city of Brainerd.
  • Military History Museum: Located in Fort Ripley, this museum offers interactive exhibits and displays for kids and adults alike. Visitors can explore tanks, trucks, and other military equipment. Note that the museum has limited hours, so plan your visit accordingly.
  • Parking and Access: Although ATVs are generally not allowed inside the camp, there are parking options available at the gas station or restaurant near the main gate. The camp is a short, 5-minute walk from these parking locations.
  • The Main Gate Bar/Restaurant: Located just outside the main gate, this establishment offers great food and Saturday bingo for riders looking for a break from the trails.

Riders can also explore additional nearby trails, such as the Soo Line Trail, OHM Practice Track, Iron Range Off-Road Recreational Area, Iron Range OHV, Nemadji State Forest Trails, and Soo Line North Trail.

Emily-Outing and Moose River

With almost 65 miles of trails, the Emily-Outing and Moose River ATV Trail system offers a diverse experience for riders. The trails range from flat, wide-open sections to narrow, rocky, and muddy paths.

The trails are located in a picturesque setting, surrounded by nature and the rich wildlife of the area. Riders can expect encounters with wildlife such as moose in Moose Lake, explore Chippewa National Forest, or even fish at Cass Lake.

In addition to the natural attractions, the trail system provides conveniences for riders. It offers easy access to campsites for camping, as well as gas stations and dining options in the Emily area. One popular spot among riders is the Pickled Loon Saloon which offers great food and is kid-friendly.

While the trails are mostly well-maintained, riders should be cautious about certain remote areas that have limited, or no cell service, especially on the Moose River Trail section. It’s essential to come prepared with spare tires, tire plugs, and extra gas when planning to ride in these remote areas. As the trails can sometimes be less crowded, especially during weekdays, riding with at least one other person or vehicle can ensure a safer experience.

In conclusion, the Emily-Outing and Moose River Trail system provide an enjoyable outdoor adventure for riders with a mix of terrain and attractions, while also offering convenient facilities and access to various locations.

Forest Riders Trail

Forest Riders Trail

The Forest Riders Trail is renowned as one of the top ATV trails in Minnesota, spanning over 100 miles and passing through Becker and Hubbard counties. The trail traverses four main forests, namely Paul Bunyan, Two Inlets, White Earth, and Smoky Hills. Riders can expect a diverse range of terrains, from rolling and hilly to level and smooth, making it a fantastic choice for riders of all skill levels.

Some highlights of this trail include:

  • 100-mile trail providing an extensive riding experience
  • Crossing through various terrains like forest roads and township, county, and state road rights-of-way
  • Beautiful scenic nature
  • The trail passes through four main forests: Paul Bunyan, Two Inlets, White Earth, and Smoky Hills

The Forest Riders Trail is a prime destination for ATV enthusiasts visiting Minnesota, ensuring an unforgettable off-roading experience in the state’s diverse landscapes.

Nemadji State Forest Trails

The Nemadji State Forest in Minnesota is a popular destination for ATV enthusiasts due to its well-maintained and scenic trails. One of the key trails within this forest is the Matthew Lourey State Trail (MLST), which stretches for approximately 11 miles within the Nemadji State Forest and allows for seasonal ATV and OHM use. In the winter, ATV use is permitted from Harlis Road to County Road when temperatures are below 30 degrees.

Other notable ATV trails in Minnesota include:

  • Thief River Falls: Located near the river, this trail offers an exciting ride for ATV enthusiasts.
  • Mesabi Iron Range: For those interested in biking and off-roading, the Mesabi Iron Range provides a challenging and unique experience.

It is essential for riders to respect the designated trails, follow safety guidelines, and adhere to local regulations while enjoying the best ATV trails in Minnesota.

SOO Line North Trail

Soo Line North Trail

The SOO Line North Trail is one of the more popular ATV trails in Minnesota that offers an enjoyable off-road experience for riders. Spanning over 100 miles, the trail runs along an old railroad grade through Carlton, Aitkin, and Cass Counties. It consists of three main sections: from Moose Lake to Lawler, from Lawler to Shovel Lake, and from Shovel Lake to Cass Lake.

Key features of the SOO Line North Trail include:

  • Trail length: 113 miles
  • Trail surfaces: Ballast, Gravel
  • Activities: ATV, Horseback Riding, Mountain Biking, Snowmobiling, Walking, Cross Country Skiing

Since the trail follows a relatively flat abandoned railroad grade, it offers gentle sweeping curves, making it suitable for riders of varying skill levels. The route passes through diverse landscapes such as hardwood forests, Bowstring State Forest, and numerous ponds. With its combination of beautiful scenery and accessibility, the SOO Line North Trail is definitely worth considering for your next ATV adventure in Minnesota.

Iron Range Off-Highway Vehicle State Recreation Area

Iron Range Off-Highway Vehicle State Recreation Area

The Iron Range Off-Highway Vehicle State Recreation Area, located in Gilbert, Minnesota, is considered the premier ATV park in the state. Covering 1,200 acres in the heart of Minnesota’s mining country, the park offers a diverse range of trails that cater to both beginners and experienced riders.

The recreation area boasts 36 miles of trails, featuring various terrains such as:

  • 4×4 rock crawls
  • Sand and mud drags
  • Tough-truck competitions

In addition to ATVs, the park accommodates all-terrain trucks, 4×4 vehicles, and motorcycles. Managed by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, the Iron Range Off-Highway Vehicle State Recreation Area provides an unforgettable off-roading experience in a beautiful North Woods setting.

For those interested in camping, Sherwood Forest campground is situated nearby, making it convenient for riders to access the trails within the park.

To help navigate the trails, it is recommended to use the Polaris trail app RideCommand. This app will ensure that riders can easily find the connecting routes that may not appear on state or federal maps.

With its variety of terrain and challenges, the Iron Range Off-Highway Vehicle State Recreation Area is undoubtedly a top choice for ATV enthusiasts exploring the best trails in Minnesota.

Blue Ox Trail

Blue Ox Trail

The Blue Ox Trail is a popular ATV trail located in northern Minnesota that spans over 74 miles, offering riders an enjoyable and scenic experience. The trail follows an abandoned railroad grade, providing a relatively straight and easy ride for both beginners and experienced riders.

As riders traverse the trail, they will pass through diverse landscapes such as black spruce, swamps, and upland aspen stands. This stunning scenery makes the Blue Ox Trail perfect for experiencing the beauty of Minnesota’s natural surroundings all year round.

Some key information about the Blue Ox Trail includes:

  • Length: 74 miles
  • Trail surfaces: Ballast, dirt
  • Activities: ATV riding, horseback riding, mountain biking, snowmobiling, walking, cross-country skiing

The Blue Ox Trail delivers an exceptional ATV riding adventure in Minnesota, providing enthusiasts with a range of terrains and captivating vistas.

Gandy Dancer Trail

Gandy Dancer Trail

The Gandy Dancer Trail is a popular and well-frequented ATV trail in Minnesota. Spanning 30 miles in length, it follows an abandoned railroad grade that begins in Danbury, Wisconsin and travels north through Minnesota before looping back east. This trail is known for its easy accessibility, making it an excellent choice for riders of all skill levels.

Some key features of the Gandy Dancer Trail include:

  • Terrain: The trail is relatively simple, with a technical rating of 2, which means it’s suitable for beginners and experts alike.
  • Accessibility: The Gandy Dancer Trail is open year-round to ATVs, UTVs, ORVs, and bikes. In the winter months, the trail is groomed and open to snowmobiles as well.
  • Duration: With a total duration of around 7.5 hours, riders can comfortably complete this trail in a single day.
  • Seasons: The trail can be enjoyed during the spring, summer, fall, and winter seasons, offering versatility for riders seeking a year-round trail experience.

When visiting the Gandy Dancer Trail, riders can expect a memorable off-road experience characterized by its unique name and diverse terrain. As one of the best ATV trails in Minnesota, the Gandy Dancer Trail offers an enjoyable ride, solidifying its reputation as a must-visit destination for off-road enthusiasts.

Appleton Area Recreational Park

Appleton Area Recreational Park

Appleton Area Recreational Park, located in southwestern Minnesota, spans 330 acres and offers a variety of terrains for ATV enthusiasts. This off-highway vehicle (OHV) park features 20 miles of trails suitable for riders of all skill levels. The park’s history as a gravel mine has created rolling landscapes, making it an exciting adventure for families and individuals alike.

Visitors to the park can enjoy:

  • Motocross track: A well-maintained track for practicing jumps and maneuvers.
  • Sand dunes: Challenging terrain for sand lovers to test their skills.
  • Picnic and play areas: Facilities for outdoor gatherings and relaxation.

The Appleton Area Recreational Park is open year-round, offering a diverse playground for ATVs, dirt bikes, and other OHVs. Make sure to add this fantastic destination to your list when exploring the best ATV trails in Minnesota.

Snake Creek Trail

Snake Creek Trail

Located in the Richard J. Dorer Memorial Hardwood State Forest, the Snake Creek Trail is one of the best ATV trails in Minnesota. With a total of 13 miles of winding trails through bluff country in southeastern Minnesota, this trail offers a thrilling off-roading experience for riders of all skill levels.

The wooded trail elevates approximately 300 feet along the Snake Creek Valley, offering stunning scenic overlooks. In certain sections, the trail reaches bedrock, providing riders with challenging outcroppings and cobbles.

Snake Creek Trail is part of a 13.5-mile ATV trail system that forms several interconnecting loops, with varying terrain ranging from hard-packed dirt and gravel to rugged, muddy sections accompanied by chunky hill climbs. The marked trails allow riders to plan their adventure accordingly.

Facilities provided near the Snake Creek Trail include parking, shelters, restrooms, campgrounds, and picnic areas, ensuring a comfortable experience for riders.

In summary, the Snake Creek Trail offers a diverse and exciting off-roading experience, making it a top destination for ATV riders in Minnesota.

Agassiz Recreational Trail

Its a loooong video but covers the ENTIRE trail!

The Agassiz Recreational Trail is a picturesque 52-mile trail located near the North Dakota border in Minnesota. It offers riders a variety of scenic views as it runs along an abandoned railroad grade. The trail alternates between sparsely wooded stretches and iconic Minnesota farmland, providing a diverse and enjoyable riding experience.

  • Starting Point: The southern end of the trail is in Ulen, MN, just north of County Road 34/County Road 16.
  • Ending Point: The northern end of the trail is in Fertile, MN.
  • Trail surfaces: Dirt, Grass, Gravel
  • Activities: ATV riding, Horseback riding, Mountain Biking, Snowmobiling, Walking

Riders will pass through several charming towns, such as Syre, Twin Valley, and Gary, while following the trail’s general parallel to State Route 32. The Agassiz Recreational Trail is an ideal destination for riders seeking both a serene and thrilling off-road ATV adventure amidst the beautiful landscape of Northwestern Minnesota.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are there any special requirements for Out-of-state visitors?

Out-of-state visitors need to purchase a non-resident ATV trail pass, which can be obtained online or from an ATV dealer. This pass grants access to Minnesota’s state and grant-in-aid ATV trails.

What Requirements are there for Youth ATV Riders in Minnesota?

Youth ATV riders in Minnesota must:

  1. Be at least 12 years old to operate an ATV on public lands.
  2. Have a valid ATV Safety Certificate.
  3. Youths aged 12-15 without a certificate must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

How many ATV trails are there in MN?

Minnesota offers over 1,000 miles of interconnected ATV trails throughout the state, catering to various skill levels and preferences.

Where can I find a map of ATV trails in MN?

Maps of the ATV trails in Minnesota can be found at the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) website, local ATV clubs, or ATV dealerships.

Is it legal to drive an ATV on the road in MN?

ATVs may be driven on designated roads. However, riding on public roads is generally prohibited unless allowed by local ordinances or for specific purposes like crossing a road to access another trail. Check local laws before operating an ATV on any road.

What are the regulations for riding ATVs in Minnesota ditches?

Riding ATVs in Minnesota ditches is allowed under certain conditions:

  1. Must be within the right-of-way of a state or county road.
  2. Travel must be in the same direction as road traffic.
  3. Stay as far to the right side of the ditch as possible for safety reasons.

For more information consult the Minnesota DNR website for up-to-date information and any special regulations. As always check for regulations applicable to a particular area you are going to ride in.

Do you need to wear a helmet when riding an ATV in Minnesota?

ATV riders under the age of 18 are required to wear a Department of Public Safety approved helmet in Minnesota. It is recommended that adult riders wear a helmet but it is not legally required.

Where can I find a map of ATV trails in MN?

You can find maps and information on Minnesota ATV trails on the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) website. Many trail-specific websites and local clubs also provide maps and guides for specific trail systems.

What is the opening and closing schedule for Minnesota ATV trails?

The opening and closing schedule for Minnesota ATV trails varies, depending on the specific trail or area. Some trails are open year-round, while others may have seasonal closures due to weather or wildlife concerns. It is essential to consult the Minnesota DNR website or local clubs for the most up-to-date information on individual trail systems.

What are the regulations for riding ATVs in Minnesota ditches?

Riding ATVs in Minnesota ditches is generally allowed. However, specific restrictions apply depending on the location and time of year. It is crucial to consult the Minnesota DNR website for up-to-date information and any special regulations.