Best of

the Twin Cities

Best Public Park

South Valley Park

Pull into South Valley Park, and it will seem like any other. There's a playground, a baseball field, a sledding hill, and a picnic area, usually occupied by extended families celebrating a child's birthday. But walk south for just a few minutes, and you'll suddenly be completely alone, surrounded by forest in the Twin Cities' best-kept secret. There's a paved path running through the center for bikers and the less hearty. Jump on any of the myriad dirt trails, and you'll feel as if you've been transported into the North Woods. The hiking is moderately difficult, with steep ravines and swamps. Yet the maze of trails seems to run forever, the dense forest allowing you to forget that you're surrounded by subdivisions on the hills above. The best part: South Valley is curiously under-used, despite being just 10 minutes south of downtown St. Paul. Stick to the unpaved paths, and it's rare that you'll encounter another human being.

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