Prepare for an outdoor adventure this summer.
If the longer days and warmer nights of spring have you itching to get outdoors, you’re not alone. It’s an annual return to nature many locals can relate to, as skis and snowshoes are packed away and the trails of Woodbury again fill with bikers, hikers and runners.
“Minnesotans are an outdoor bunch,” says Ross Vanderpoel, assistant store manager at the Duluth Trading Company in Woodbury. “The change of seasons in the Midwest allows hikers to see the same scenery four different ways throughout any given year, which can be a huge draw for outdoor enthusiasts.”
Woodbury resident Judy Nelson has spent decades exploring local trails in every season, finding new routes and sharing them with the St. Paul Hiking Club, of which she’s been a member for the last 18 years.
Since its founding in 1921, the St. Paul Hiking Club has brought people together to explore St. Paul and the surrounding areas, creating community and celebrating the diversity of the state that members call home. “What I like about the club is I consider it like I’m rediscovering the Twin Cities area and the suburbs, all the different areas and the variety of parks and trails that I didn’t know existed,” Nelson says.
Over the years, she’s made lasting friendships and gotten involved, serving on the board and leading hikes in Woodbury. The latter job has resulted in even greater exploration of the area, as she seeks to find new routes each season amid Woodbury’s more than 155 miles of trails.
“There’s just so many [trails] on this side of town and even across the river in Wisconsin, there’s really a lot on this east side,” Nelson says. “To me, it’s like you don’t have to go through a lot of traffic or bad weather, you can find a lot of places right here.”
On their twice weekly year-round hikes (Sundays are always five miles and Tuesdays are three), members could find themselves on paved trails through neighborhood parks or on muddy, rugged trails through hills and ravines.
For Vanderpoel, Minnesota’s diverse terrain is one of the most attractive aspects of hiking here. “Drive an hour in any direction on the compass and you will see a completely different landscape,” he says.
Each environment calls for different levels of preparedness. Terrain, mileage and season should all impact the clothing, shoes and equipment one brings to hike. When leading group hikes, Nelson makes sure to share the details of the trip and the conditions at the time of the hike. On solo hikes, she says the most important thing is to research beforehand, bring adequate water and food and a cell phone to use in case of an emergency or to track location and mileage.
“On longer or remote hikes, consider carrying a water filter and an emergency blanket,” says Lauren Stark, senior designer for Duluth Trading Company’s AKHG brand. “Unfortunately, most cell signals tend to fade in the wilderness and batteries can die, so having a map on hand along with a compass and the skills to use them is important,”
Another consideration is clothing. “When it comes to clothing, layering is key so anything packable is great,” Stark says. “… The more comfortable you are, the longer you can hike.” Wicking, breathable and UV products are also great for protecting your body from the elements while keeping you at a comfortable temperature.
Some of Nelson’s favorite east Metro hikes include Sunfish Lake Park (5.5 miles of multi-use trails) and Lake Elmo Park Reserve (20 miles of trails over 2,000 diverse acres). In Woodbury, she enjoys bringing the group out to Carver Lake Park (3.6 mile lake loop), Colby Lake Park (3.2 mile lake loop) and Powers Lake (1.7 mile paved trail). But many of the hiking club’s excursions have been around lesser-known trails and neighborhood parks, such as Tamarack Nature Preserve, Ojibway Park, Stonemill Farms Park and the Dancing Waters neighborhood.
“Como Regional Park in our neighbor city of St. Paul is a favorite for Duluth Trading store team members. Along with trails for hiking, there’s a lake, a historic glass-dome conservatory and more,” says Vanderpoel. “Stillwater also has a variety of river edge hikes that make for the perfect view.”
Beginners need not be scared off by the idea of finding the perfect trail. Just stepping out the front door and exploring one’s own neighborhood is a great place to start, Nelson says. Each person is responsible for discovering their potential and limitations. The most important part is to enjoy it. “I don’t think people know all the fun stuff we have right out our door,” Nelson says.
If you have a pup that loves outdoor adventures as much as you, keep them comfortable and happy with these Duluth Trading Company offerings.
“A standard 6 foot leash, like Duluth Trading’s Cycle Dog Ecoweave Leash ($19.95), is required in many parks. Water and a collapsible dish are also beneficial to have on hand. The Duluth Trading Travel Dog Dish ($10.95) is a collapsible silicone dish that is lightweight and easy to carry on a hike.
“On the coldest days of winter we suggest a dog jacket, such as our Fire Hose Dog Jacket ($57.95), especially for short-haired dogs. In the summer, the Duluth Trading Tick Patrol Tick Remover ($8.95) is small, lightweight and great to keep in your first aid kit in case your dog comes into contact with wood ticks. We also recommend Duluth’s Deluxe Seat Saver ($99.95) or Scout’s Mobile Mudroom ($99.95) for messier hikes with your furry friends.”—Lauren Stark, senior designer for Duluth Trading Company’s AKHG brand
Find Your Footing
If you splurge on one item, make it your boots. “Proper footwear is probably the most important piece of gear for a beginner hiking enthusiast,” Stark says. She recommends the following styles:
Rough Terrain and Technical Hiking: Go for high ankle boots with a more rigid sole that will protect your ankles from twists and sprains. Though these boots may feel a bit heavy, you can expect your feet to stay dry and comfortable in rugged conditions.
Long Distance: For longer hikes, a lightweight, low-rise hiking shoe will bring more efficiency, Stark says. It’s also important to weigh the conditions and find a comfortable shoe that makes you feel safe and prepared for hours of hiking. The last thing you want is a blister on mile five of a multi-day hike. Hiking socks can also help to mitigate this and, when combined with great boots, make footwear an afterthought during your hike.
Short Distance and Maintained Trails: For the daily hiker who plans to traverse well-maintained trails at short distances, comfort and support are paramount. Don’t worry about breaking your budget with top-of-the-line offerings, seek to find a boot that fits well, is lightweight, breathable and waterproof and has a flexible sole.
Summer Hiking: Stark recommends finding breathable boots and high-quality socks for hot trail conditions. Moisture build-up can slow you down and cause discomfort, so look for boots that are comfortable and light-weight as well. Boots that are made of durable materials, such as Gore-Tex textile, hard rubber and leather, will also be able to withstand higher temperatures.
Winter Hiking: Boots that keep your feet warm and dry are essential for winter hiking and snowshoeing. Look for the ideal insulation amount (often measured in grams) for the temperature you’ll be hiking in; 200 grams is recommended for the 30 degree F range, boots with up to 800 grams are ideal for sub-zero temperatures. High ankle cuffs will also help keep snow out.
As you shop for boots, the most important thing is to go in-person to explore the options. Each boot has a unique fit and style that will suit different shoppers. “We encourage hikers to stop by our Woodbury location to try on a few different styles and find what works best,” Stark says.
Duluth Trading Company
Woodbury, 9320 Hudson Road; 952.225.5410
Facebook: Duluth Trading Company
St. Paul Hiking Club