Theodore Wirth Regional Park Activities
Theodore Wirth Regional Park is the largest park in the Minneapolis park system with over 740 acres of land. Located West of Downtown Minneapolis, this park can be enjoyed throughout all four seasons – yes, even during the winter months.
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.
Photo Credit: Krivit Photography
Take in the beautiful colors of the trees as Minneapolis transitions from summer to fall. There are plenty of trails waiting to be explored such as Wirth Lake, Skyline Trail, and Bottineau Way. The interconnected system of trails takes you through hills, forest, and offers scenic views full of wildlife featuring deer, foxes, and badgers. There is a loop trail for beginners that follows along the left side of Wirth Lake and then combines with the difficult mountain biking trails near the trail exit. If you want long distance, the paved multi-purpose trail follows Theodore Wirth Parkway all the way to Victory Memorial in North Minneapolis. The trails are multi-functional, so bring your bike or rent a Nice Ride bicycle and give them a try. Be cautious, some of the more difficult trails are best suited for mountain bikes.
For the hardcore biker, these routes near Theodore Wirth and Brownie Lake Park are made just for you:
- The Back 40 Loop is nearly 3 miles of intermediate single track riding and is accessible by bike off of the Luce Line Trail in Theodore Wirth Park.
- The South Loop is nearly 1 mile of intermediate single track riding. Accessible from Theodore Wirth Parkway, south of the railroad track bridge.
- The Glenwood Spur route is approximately 1 mile of intermediate biking. The trail is accessible from the Northwest corner of Theodore Wirth Parkway and Glenwood Avenue.
- The Southwest Loop encompasses nearly 2 miles of intermediate single track riding and is accessible from the Southwest corner of Theodore Wirth Parkway and Glenwood Avenue.
- The Brownie Lake Loop is about 1.5 miles of varying difficulties. Ranging from intermediate to extreme difficulty and expert difficulty, this route is not for beginners. The route includes steep rock climbs and descents, technical features and requires expert skills to ride safely.
As the snow begins to fall, the fun really picks up here. The walking trails can be used as cross-country ski trails, so strap on your cross-country gear and conquer more than 20 miles of well-kept ski trails varying from open sections with views of Downtown Minneapolis to wooded trails filled with the sights of scenic lakes. Want to bring your furry friend along? Try skijoring—a growing winter sport in which your dog assists you while you cross-country ski. Or bring your sled, snow tube, toboggan or snowboard and hit the slopes (read below to learn about how you can rent equipment).
When the flowers begin to bloom, be sure to visit the Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden and Bird Sanctuary. With over 500 plant species and 130 bird species, this is a must-see. The birding opportunities are unmatched, with Downy woodpeckers, warblers, and other birds inhabiting the sanctuary. If you’re looking to get a little exercise in, pack your tennis racquet and enjoy one of the multiple tennis courts offered at the park.
Stay active during the summer and let that start with a round of disc golf. Whether you are new to disc golf or a veteran, the Par 3 Disc Golf Course caters to all. With 18-holes ranging in difficulty for beginners to experts, the tree-lined fairways and rolling elevations make for the perfect summertime activity. There is also a golf course with the front nine displaying several outstanding views of the Minneapolis skyline, and the back nine offering rolling hills and plenty of trees and natural scenery. For those looking for a different type of adventure, try out the archery range—be sure to bring your own equipment and targets. For those who aren’t quite old enough for slinging arrows, pack a picnic and enjoy the playground and tot lot for the little ones.
If you want to be closer to the water, fishing off the pier is always a good option. Or, if you want to be IN the water, head over to Wirth Lake Beach and hop in.
Tips When Visiting Theodore Wirth Park
Photo Credit: Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board
Parking & Transportation
Theodore Wirth Park is open daily from 6 am to midnight. We recommend visitors park at the Wirth Beach parking lot since the chalet parking lot is specifically meant for golfers. This parking lot is also the epicenter of the park’s running trails. For quick access to Theodore Wirth and Cedar Lake Regional Trail, follow the multipurpose bike and running trail alongside the parking lot. Each space has its own coin operated parking meter, so make sure to bring quarters! An hour should be more than enough for a hike to the bog and back, but more might be necessary if you want to explore the other trails.
Make a full day out of your trip and bike to Theodore Wirth Park, which is easily-accessible for bikers. Minneapolis has a great bike network, with bike lanes on almost every road. To get to Theodore Wirth Park from Northeast or North Minneapolis, follow the bikes lanes on Plymouth Avenue and Lowry Avenue which run along the side of Theodore Wirth Parkway. From the Midtown Greenway, take the Burnham Trail, then turn left at the intersection with Cedar Lake Parkway, cross the railroad tracks, and follow the trail along Cedar Lake. When the trail splits, head uphill on the narrow trail, then cross the street at the light to continue on the trail. From Downtown Minneapolis or St. Louis Park, take the North Cedar Lake Trail to the Cedar Lake Trail, then head north. Given the ambiguous and constantly changing nature of trail names, you can check your route by clicking the Directions link to Google Maps, then select bicycle as your means of transport. There aren't any bike racks there, but there are plenty of parking meters for you to lock your bike.
Public transportation is another great way to get to Theodore Wirth Park. The Metro Transit buses are an efficient, environmentally-friendly way to get around Minneapolis and beyond. Plan your trip to Theodore Wirth Park using Metro Transit’s Trip Planner tool.
- Mountain Bikes: $40/2 hours
- Fat Tire Bikes: $40/2 hours
- Helmets: $5/2 hours
- Golf Clubs: $6
- Riding Carts: $7/person
- Pull Carts: $5/person
- Golf Clubs: $6
- Riding Carts: $7/person
- Pull Carts: $5/person
- Classic Ski Package – $12/2 hours
- Skate Ski Package – $18/2 hours
- Snowshoes – $12/2 hours
- Classic equipment rental (skis, poles, boots) – $15
- Skate equipment rental (skis, poles, boots) – $20
- Daily Snowshoe Rental: $12
The newly renovated Trailhead is located just off the Cedar Lake Trail, and has lockers, bathrooms, showers, bike rental/repair, golf club rental, a store, and a restaurant. It also has an information desk where all your questions can be answered.
Food & Drink Options
Mill Valley Market
The Trailhead now hosts Mill Valley Market, which is serving up daily fresh and healthy selections through fast casual service and grab and go options. Here park goers can find a fresh, clean meal after their activities, including the chicken sandwich with fig jam and brie cheese and arugula or the Mediterranean Grain Bowl that's made with quinoa, chopped veggies and a red wine vinaigrette. They are open Sunday through Wednesday from 9am to 8pm and Thursday through Saturday from 9am to 9pm.
Grab food from Cajun Twist, or head down the street to Lunds & Byerlys to stock up on picnic food. There are four grills located in the park which makes having a picnic a breeze!
One of the hidden gems hosted by Theodore Wirth Park is its five-acre quaking bog with a floating boardwalk. A bog is a soft, muddy ground that is like a marshland or swamp. The quaking bog is open all year, and is a great way to see some nature in the middle of a city. Complete the short loop through the bog to see the fungi, mushrooms, and other wildlife. Afterword, explore the maze of trails beyond the bog.