Hiking at Rice Creek Chain of Lakes

Lino Lakes, Anoka County • Annual or daily park permit needed

hiking rice creek chain of lakes
Rice Creek, while not the best place for hiking in the Twin Cities, is still beautiful

Of the many outdoor things to do at Rice Creek Chain of Lakes Park Reserve, hiking isn’t at the top of the list. Here’s why we say that:

What Rice Creek Lacks for Hikers

The main thing missing here are loops—being able to park in one spot and hike a nice loop that takes you back to your car (unless you want to leave the park and walk on roads).

But because of the lakes and the wetlands, the terrain just isn’t conducive for a network of trails.

That said…

What Rice Creek Offers Hikers

Rice Creek is still a beautiful place to hike or run. The multi-use trails go through woods, along lakes and amid wetlands.

An out-and-back trail isn’t the end of the world. In fact, since the scenery looks different from different angles, it can be just fine.

One thing I discovered during my walk—I parked at the beach at Centerville Lake and hiked the trail over to Chomonix Golf Course and back—are a couple of dirt spur trails leading off from the main trail into the woods.

They’re not marked on the map, but are obviously well-used. Where do they go? I don’t know—I didn’t follow them very far. But they’d be great for exploring with your kids!

wooded hiking trail rice creek
A couple of dirt trails like this one head off into the woods to I-don’t-know-where!

Hiking at Wargo Nature Center

Wargo Nature Center is part of Rice Creek Park Reserve. There’s a small network of dirt trails there among mature trees and with constant lake views.

It’s a perfect spot for families with young children, and includes a natural play area. The Center has themed Activity Backpacks you can use for free, too, if you’d like some more ideas of how to spend your time on the trails there.

The entrance to Wargo is different from the main entrance to the park reserve, just a bit north off Highway 14/Main Street.

Other Things to Do

One of the best things about Rice Creek Park Reserve is the recreation options for the whole family. The large campground, the swimming beach, Wargo Nature Center and the great paddling opportunities make this a great local destination.

Bring your binoculars and camera, too—this is a haven for birds of all types, from water birds to raptors to song birds.

The paved bike trails in the park reserve connect up with Rice Creek North Regional Trail. That gives bikers some pretty good options.

How to Get There

The main entrance to Rice Creek Chain of Lakes Park Reserve is off Highway 14/Main Street just south of 35E. There are no ramps off 35E there, however, so follow your GPS for the best route.

Here’s more…

Sharon Brodin
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