Where can I wheel in Minnesota?

Minnesota has some incredible recreation areas, parks, trails, and community-sourced routes that are available for use by the public, or open to the public for events throughout the year. These resources have something for nearly every style of wheeling, from the weekend trail rider to the most hardcore rock bouncer.

This page is actively being built in February 2024. Please check back frequently for updates!


First, what do I need to wheel in Minnesota?

For any state-maintained trails, recreation areas, or parks, you need the Minnesota off-road vehicle registration sticker. This is available at most DMVs for $30.00 + $8.50 issuing fee that is valid for three calendar years. When you register your vehicle, you will get a colored sticker similar to your regular license tabs that you will affix to the top left corner of your rear license plate. Click HERE for more information.


Next, what should I do (or not do) on Minnesota trails?

BE LEGAL

The first stop you should make is to review the Minnesota Off-highway Vehicle Regulations, provided by the DNR at any local office or online here.

BE SAFE

  • Do not drink alcohol while operating a motor vehicle
  • Do not abuse drugs or other altering substances while operating a motor vehicle
  • Never wheel alone!
  • Always research the rules of the area you are in
  • Slow down. It’s not a race (unless it is). Look twice around you to make sure someone isn’t in the danger zone.
  • Cell phone service is often not reliable where we offroad; always tell someone where you are going and when you should be back, even if you are with a group!
  • Uphill ALWAYS has the right of way!

BE RESPONSIBLE

  • Always remember and exercise the goals of Tread Lightly. Leave where you are better than you found it.
  • Stay the trail. Do not widen the trails by avoiding obstacles or make your own route around things unless you have explicit permission from the landowner, park management, or DNR to do so.
  • Watch out for trees! They’re easy to spot and are sensitive to hits. Don’t damage the trees while you are running the trails.

BE RESPECTFUL

  • When you are offroading, like it or not you are representing other offroaders to our community and those that may be opposing our activities. Be kind, be respectful, and be responsible for your actions.
  • Often you’re not the only one out there. Be helpful, be kind, and most of all, be patient. Help that person in front of you instead of sitting in your rig waiting.

Finally, where can I wheel in Minnesota?

Highlight public trails and areas, FREE for registered vehicles

The State of Minnesota and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources have been an incredible partner for the offroading community, opening up land for trails and dedicated areas for us to do what we love as well as continuing to partner with MN4WDA to manage and add more land for responsible offroad use.

The trails listed here are hand-selected by MN4WDA to get you started on exploring the resources available to you in Minnesota. The full list of trails available is listed here.

Gilbert IROHVSRA

Website: MN DNR

Open: Year-Round (See DNR link)

Open to: ORV, ATV, UTV, OHM

Enjoy 1,200 acres of off-highway vehicle (OHV) recreation in a North Woods setting. This area was mined until 1981 and contains iron ore pits, ore stockpiles and tailings basins. Today it is Minnesota’s premier off-highway vehicle recreation area, providing riding opportunities for many skill levels on varied terrain. Features include recreational trails, scramble areas, training and special events. With 36 miles of OHV trails, whether you ride an all terrain vehicle (ATV), an off-highway motorcycle (OHM) or an off-road vehicle (ORV), there is something for everyone!

Mille Lacs ORV Park

Website: MN DNR

Open: Year-Round (See DNR link)

Open to: ORV Only

The Mille Lacs ORV Park property is nearly 315 acres, located off U.S. Highway 169 in Onamia Township. The ORV park currently includes over five miles of trail designed for novice and intermediate skill levels, and an advanced skills area for more experienced users. Expansion plans will add more trails and features for all types of users. The park is provided Mille Lacs county and maintained by the Minnesota 4 Wheel Drive Association.

Appleton

Website: MN DNR

Open: Year-Round (See DNR link)

Open to: ORV, ATV, OHM

Once an old gravel mine, the Appleton Area Recreational Park covers 330 acres, including 20 miles of trails. The park is ideal for OHV enthusiasts of all skill levels, containing many miles of narrow technical trails, plus two motocross practice tracks for beginner and experienced riders. Past gravel mining activity created rolling terrain and excellent riding for the entire family. The City of Appleton is ATV and OHM-friendly, allowing travel on posted roads within city limits. This park is provided and maintained by Swift County.

Spider Lake Trails

Website: MN DNR

Open: Year-Round (See DNR link)

Open to: ATV, OHM, ORV

The Spider Lake Trails travel 29 miles throughout Foot Hills State Forest. From smooth and sandy to rough and rocky, the trails provide a challenging ride as they curve around lakes and ponds, follow ridges, and traverse several hills and slopes throughout the forest. Trails are open year-round, except on groomed, signed snowmobile trails. These trails are provided and maintained by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

Gandy Dancer Trail

Website: MN DNR

Open: Year-Round (See DNR link)

Open To: ATV, OHM, ORV

This 30-mile trail along an abandoned railroad grade begins in Danbury, Wis., and travels north through Minnesota before looping back east. Connections to OHV trails in the St. Croix and Nemadji state forests, along with a wide variety of landscapes and terrain, make this trail a popular destination. Camping is available in both the St. Croix and Nemadji State Forests. This trail is maintained by the Minnesota Department of Resources.

Mesabi Mountain Trail

Website: MN DNR

Open: Year-Round

Open To: ORV Only

Four miles of narrow, winding trail follows the rocky ridges and outcroppings of the Laurentian Divide. Numerous rock obstacles of varying sizes offer climbing challenges throughout the trail. The more extreme obstacles have multiple ways through and around. Riders will find plenty of scenic overlooks where they can stop and take a break. Thirty-five-inch tires, lockers, and a winch are recommended. Please travel with others! This trail is provided by the Eveleth-Gilbert Joint Powers Trail Board and maintained by the Northern Minnesota Jeepers.


Community-Created Trails

Our offroad community is awesome. We have seen our business partners, clubs, and individuals pull together trail adventures to enjoy. Most of these are pulling together camping areas, public and municipal roads, forest roads, and other trails, and have published them for the community to use for free.

This list is a small representation of the many options available to MN4WDA members and the broader offroad community. If you know of additional routes that you’d like us to highlight, please let us know by posting on our Facebook page or emailing landuse@mn4wda.com.

Southeast MN Adventure Trail

Website: MAT Facebook

Open: Year Round

Open to: Any highway-licensed vehicles

Northeast MN Adventure Trail

Website: MAT Facebook

Open: Year Round

Open to: Any highway-licensed vehicles

MN Border-to-Border Touring Route

Website: MN DNR

Open: Year Round

Open to: Any highway-licensed vehicles

Since 1992, Minnesota has had a system of scenic byways opens in a new browser tab made up of roads that take drivers to some of the state’s most significant natural, cultural and historical attractions, encouraging tourism and economic development in the communities along the way. Soon there will be a similar opportunity for people to explore more than 800 miles of northern Minnesota on (mostly) unpaved roads.

The new Border-to-Border Touring Route will cross the entire state from the North Dakota border to the shores of Lake Superior.


What are some good resources for wheeling outside of Minnesota?

If you’re looking to wheel outside of the state, there are some great online resources you can access to help you plan your trip. These links are not endorsed by MN4WDA; they are provided as quick links to get you started.

TrailsOffRoad.com

https://www.trailsoffroad.com/

Our Mission

To provide the best, most accurate, relevant, and current offroad trail information fostering personal adventure for the many.

Backcountry Discovery Routes

https://ridebdr.com

BDR is a 501c(3) non-profit organization.

We are here to help you plan adventure motorcycling trips. This website provides you with free GPS tracks, information, and planning tools for each Backcountry Discovery Route.  Plan your multi-day off-road motorcycle adventure with our free tracks, interactive maps, photos, video content as well as hotel, food & gas information. Be sure to check out the discovery points, packing lists and FAQ’s for any routes you are considering. Have fun, be safe and enjoy exploring on two wheels.

Overland Trail Guides

https://www.overlandtrailguides.com/overland-routes

Overland Trail Guides (OTG) was created due to the sheer challenge of trying to plan overland and offroad adventures to new places.  Sure you could spend hours, even days using Google to scour the internet for that perfect adventure.  And it’s true that some sites do have directories for overland routes, but they are typically limited to a particular region. 

Our goal at Overland Trail Guides is to introduce you to new adventures, both near and far.  We’ve taken the grunt work out of finding new routes by creating an extensive library of offroad adventures across the entire North American continent.  Every one of our adventures comes with a list of detailed information, so you can decide which adventures are right for you.