Scenic Running Routes in Minneapolis

It’s time to take your jog to the next level with beautiful city sights. Minneapolis enjoys the ideal combination of urban and natural environments that will leave any runner breathless, for more than one reason.

Please note, because of the warming weather and new restrictions regarding COVID-19, a lot of Minnesotans are taking to the outdoors for a breath of fresh air and a break from their homes. This means walkways and popular outdoor locations are likely to be busier than usual. Please continue to practice social distancing in these settings, remaining at least 6 feet away from passerbys and others near you.

Trails and routes for those of all skill levels are scattered across Minneapolis and nearby areas. Not only will you find the perfect route for your personal capabilities, you will also enjoy breathtaking views along the way. Here are our top 5 recommended running destinations for the best scenery that Minneapolis has to offer.

1. Take in the River Views

Distance: 5 miles

Start near 3rd Ave. in downtown and make your way across the Stone Arch Bridge, down Main St., around Nicollet Island, up to Broadway and back across the river to your starting point. Enjoy views of the iconic Mississippi River in Minneapolis, pass by historical buildings and through quaint riverside neighborhoods. Just over 5 miles long, this running route is sure to be enjoyed by all!

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2. The Ultimate River Route

Distance: 11 miles

For those wishing to take on an especially scenic Minneapolis running route that is just long enough, Minneapolis’ river roads are your answer! Make your way down West River Parkway and across the Mississippi River at Franklin Ave. Take a small detour into Prospect Park and visit the Witch's Hat Tower at Tower Hill Park for an incredible view of the Minneapolis skyline and a short breather. Head back on East River Parkway to finish with another beautiful view of the city across the Stone Arch Bridge.

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3. Loop through the Chain of Lakes

Total Distance: 12.5 miles
Individual Lake Distances: Cedar Lake, 1.68 miles | Lake of the Isles, 2.6 miles | Lake Calhoun, 3.1 miles | Lake Harriet, 2.75 miles

Take on Cedar Lake, Lake of the Isles, Lake Calhoun and Lake Harriet in a 12.5 mile run along this local Minneapolis hot spot! Whether you circle them all or choose one to do some smaller laps, you will never *run* out of beautiful views! Take in the sparkling water of the lakes, the beautiful homes along the way and secretly race other runners without them knowing. Need a break? Take a breather at one of the many parks along the way.

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4. Run the Trails at Theodore Wirth Park 

Distance: As long as you want

Just minutes outside of downtown Minneapolis lies Theodore Wirth Regional Park, the largest regional park in the Minneapolis park system. With miles of various trails to pursue off the main path, runners can easily add more distance and scenery to their trek. Perfect for runners of all levels, trails can range from flat and paved to winding and steep. Keep an eye out for wildlife while in the zone! Deer, foxes and badgers inhabit the wooded areas and, as a designated bird sanctuary, the bird watching opportunities are endless. 

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5. Historic Fort Snelling

Distance: 4.5 miles

Hop on the Blue Line Light Rail train in downtown Minneapolis and head to Fort Snelling for striking views and uninterrupted focus. Loop around Pike Island and Snelling Lake while breathing in the harmonic nature of the Minnesota and Mississippi Rivers and their surrounding landscapes. Once you've finished your run, jump back on the Blue Line train for an easy and relaxing ride back to the city.

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