The beauty of the Minneapolis/St. Paul metropolitan area is that you don't have to go far to feel like you are out of the city. Tamarack Nature Preserve has become a favorite hiking spot for me and Aria. The location is just a few short minutes away and as you walk on the trails you feel like you are no longer in the city.
The Preserve is accessible year round, although, in the winter, non-paved trails become slick and can be extremely treacherous if you are not cautious. Tamarack Nature Preserve also offers an ice skating rink in the winter and the trails are groomed to accommodate cross-country skiers of all levels.
As a nature preserve location, there are a lot of tall brush and swamps throughout and at times you're going to have to walk over water to get to the other side. Pictured above is an example of the what these trails look like. Due to the temperature change and the water underneath these boardwalks can become shaky an have an extreme tilt to the side. As you can imagine, this makes for an interesting walk during the winter.
Most of the trails are like this, unpaved and soft which make it easy on your dog's feet for hiking but not so easy after a shower has passed. Due to the large trees which make the trails more secluded the trails take longer to dry out and you will find yourself ankle deep in mud if you aren't aware of your surroundings. This has happened to me and it makes hiking even more challenging as there is no dry place to dry and clean off your shoes. Aria, however, takes advantage of these days and tries to get as muddy as possible, or she'll just jump into the swamp.
Unfortunately, muddy paw days and a dip into the swamp are never on the same hike. Admittedly it was an extremely muggy day and we ended up hiking longer than originally planned, but, seeing as how you can't see what is in the water... I was anxious to get her back out and on to dry land. Which had her running to me and sharing the "refreshing" water that she had just experienced. Thanks, Aria! As we continue the hike back to the car she keeps looking over the edge of the boardwalk with a look of "let's do that again!".
The Tamarack Nature Preserve offers miles of trails that will take you through a residential area, secluded nature scenery and then back to the main paved trail that encompasses all of Woodbury. Most of the time there are very few people on the trails. The unpaved trails do get rocky, secluded, hard to follow and have hills stay vigilant, be safe and enjoy.
You don't have to go far to have fun. Here are a few places I visit when I'm not driving across country or exploring the Rustic Roads.