Washington County doesn’t have a ton of information on their website about their parks, but they have this brochure that has some good info.
NOTE: You’ll need a Washington County vehicle permit for the regional parks (which is also good for Anoka County regional parks). And you’ll need a Minnesota State Park vehicle permit for the state parks.
Afton State Park (Hastings)
In the southeast corner of Washington County is Afton State Park with 20 miles of natural-surface hiking trails. 6 miles of those are maintained during the winter months.
Afton has a hike-in campground that’s directly connected to the trail system. This is a great way to try backpacking or to introduce it to younger children before heading into more remote destinations.
There’s a wide variety of terrain including next to the river, open prairie and dense, mature forest. Some of the hills rival the mountains for steepness! The park is very popular with trail runners.
Big Marine Park Reserve (Marine on St. Croix)
Brown’s Creek State Trail (Grant to Stillwater)
Lovely 6-mile Brown’s Creek State Trail is a paved trail that’s open to foot and bike traffic. There’s also a horse trail that parallels closely along part of it. Forest, parks, Brown’s Creek and the eastern-most mile along the St. Croix River with gorgeous views. Here’s the Brown’s Creek map.
Winter hikers are welcome on the trail, as well as skiers and snowshoers, but it’s not groomed or maintained.
Cottage Grove Ravine Regional Park (Cottage Grove)
Winter hiking is open on almost 4 miles of packed multi-use trails. The rest of the trail system is groomed for cross country skiing, off-limits to hikers. Here’s the winter map.
Gateway State Trail (St. Paul, Maplewood, North St. Paul, Oakdale)
Lake Elmo Park Reserve (Lake Elmo)
Lake Elmo Park Reserve hosts over 2,000 acres of preserved rolling hills, forest and prairie. There are 20 miles of hiking trails here, much of it on natural surfaces.
Some are for hikers only, and there are several miles for combined hikers, mountain bikers and horses. Here’s the Lake Elmo Park map.
Pine Point Regional Park (Stillwater)
Pine Point Regional Park is a peaceful natural area with forest, lakes and marshes. There are 5 miles of multi-use trails here. If you love bird watching this is a great place for you, too! Here’s the summer trail map.
About 4 miles of winter hiking is open on multi-use trails during the winter, too. Please don’t hike on the groomed ski trails. Here’s the winter map.
St. Croix Bluffs Regional Park (Hastings)
There’s not much for winter hiking here—just a less-than-half-mile loop trail. The rest of the trail system is groomed for cross country skiing, and is off limits to hikers. Here’s the winter map.
William O’Brien State Park (Marine on St. Croix)
William O’Brien State Park has 2,200 acres of hills, woods and wetlands. 12 miles of hiking trails plus the paved 1.5-mile Riverside Trail meander through this beautiful park. Here’s the William O’Brien map.