DNR encourages people to hit the trails

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) encourages people to take a hike this holiday season.

“It’s less expensive and not as crowded as going shopping,” said Minnesota State Parks Director Courtland Nelson. “Plus, now that the leaves have fallen from the trees it’s easier to see wildlife like birds and deer.”

Ranked the “Best Trails State” by the American Trails group, Minnesota has 25 state trails and 76 state parks and recreation areas.

“There is a Minnesota state park within 30 miles of almost everyone,” Nelson said.

The closest state park to Elk River is Lake Maria State Park near Monticello.

The DNR advises anyone planning to visit a state park to look online or call ahead to find out if a hunt is planned and confirm whether the park will be open. For more information, go to www.dnr.state.mn.us.stateparks/hunting/html or call 651-296-6157.

Daily Minnesota state park permits are $5 and year-round permits are $25, available at all parks.

Take a hike: Top 10 state parks for hiking

The top 10 Minnesota state parks for hiking:

•Afton State Park

•Banning State Park

•Beaver Creek Valley State Park

•Fort Snelling State Park

•Frontenac State Park

•Itasca State Park

•Jay Cooke State Park

•Sakatah Lake State Park

•Temperance River State Park

•William O’Brien State Park

Source: Minnesota Department of Natural Resources