If you’re looking for breathtaking view of the fall foliage, check out the historic fire tower in Pequot Lakes. Recently renovated, the fire tower is now part of a county park. Have a picnic in the pavilion and walk the hiking trails around the tower grounds. Climb the 135 steps of the 100 foot tower for one of the best views in the area. When the fall colors pop, this view is guaranteed to be spectacular.
If you’re a golfer, you’ll love coming to the Brainerd Lakes Area. We have some of the best golfing in the state. We have several nationally recognized courses all within close proximity to each other, which makes accessibility and playability easy. Whether you’re looking for a golf getaway with family or a group of friends, the Brainerd Lakes should be on your golf bucket list. Check out area golf courses. Fall is a great time to find lower green fees and stay and play packages.
If you love history and the outdoors, visit Crow Wing State Park. You’ll love the nature of this state park at the confluence of the Mississippi and Crow Wing Rivers. Walk the boardwalk and learn the history of the once-prosperous town site of Old Crow Wing. Step back in time with interpretive signs around the Red River Ox Cart Trail. You can hike 18 miles of trails. The park also has 6.5 miles of paved bike trail, which connects to the Paul Bunyan State Trail. Fall brings a crispness in the air (and no bugs!), which makes exploring the Crow Wing State Park perfection.
You don’t have to venture outside of the Brainerd and Baxter city limits to enjoy hiking through the woods. The Northland Arboretum has beautiful trails for a peaceful afternoon. If you’re into spooky haunts, the Arboretum’s annual Haunted Trail is sure to be a fright. The wooded trails are the perfect backdrop for goblins and ghouls. The Haunted Trail is Oct. 15–17 with low and high scare sections, which makes it suitable for the whole family.
Sure, we’re known for our lakes, but did you know that we have pristine rivers that are equally fun to explore? Rent kayaks from Crow Wing Kayaks in Crosslake and take one of their 12 routes down the Pine River. Routes vary from 1.5 hours to all day excursions. You’ll likely see abundant wildlife like fish, otters, and bald eagles. With the red, yellow, and orange hues just starting to pop, fall on the Pine River is guaranteed to be especially stunning.
If you’re a cross country skier, you may be familiar with the Nordic Ridge Recreation Area in Crosslake and its Nordic Ridge Trail, which is known for its groomed ski trails. But in the summer and fall, the 2.2 mile Nordic Ridge Trail is the perfect short hike through the woodlands and around Cranberry Lake. If you’re feeling like a challenge, you can tackle more of the Nordic Ridge’s 14 miles of trails.
Get your heart pumping while traversing the red dirt of the Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area (CCSRA). With over 25 miles of singletrack trail riding spread across 800 acres, CCSRA offers world class mountain biking. Whether you’re a beginner or looking for a challenge, you’ll find it on the trails in Cuyuna. The Miner’s Mountain Overlook offers expansive and impressive views of the mine lakes and landscape. It’s the perfect backdrop for a fall photo.
Just outside of Nisswa, you’ll find Fritz Loven Park tucked in the woods just a stone’s throw from Gull Lake. Kids will enjoy the playground and shelter for a picnic lunch. You and your family can explore the babbling brook and various hiking trails. This is the perfect nature sanctuary that isn’t too far off the beaten path, which makes it the perfect place to explore with young kids.
If flat paved trails are more your speed, the Paul Bunyan Trail is for you. At 120 miles long, it’s the longest continually paved multiuse trail in Minnesota. It winds through some seriously pretty nature views. The trail goes from the Crow Wing State Park (you’ll see the Mississippi River) north to Bemidji. You can stop in Nisswa and downtown Pequot Lakes in Trailside Park and take a pit stop. Plenty of green space to take a leisurely break. Or grab a bite to eat before you continue your biking route.
Add some thrill to your fall getaway with Brainerd Zip Line Tour, which operates out of Mount Ski Gull. The 2.5 hour guided zipline tour will give you a stunning bird’s eye view of Gull Lake and surrounding areas. The zipline platforms would be a great place to view the fall colors—and get the freeing feeling of soaring through the trees.
Who ever said the Midwest is flyover country, hasn’t seen Minnesota from the air. NorthPoint Aviation offers scenic flights over the Brainerd Lakes Area with one of their seasoned flight instructors. You’ll fly about 1,000 feet above ground so you get a view of the surroundings. Depending on the tour, you can see Gull Lake, Pelican Lake, the Whitefish Chain of Lakes, or the mine lakes and biking trails of the Cuyuna Area. Tours can be 30 or 60 minutes. See the lakes and the fall colors from the air would be a trip you won’t forget.
If you love October for its spooktacular haunts, then you’ll love the Haunted Hidden Hollows at Paul Bunyan Land just east of Brainerd. It’s central Minnesota’s largest haunted attraction with a corn maze and haunted house. What’s creepier than walking through a corn maze in the dark?! It’ll scare the YELL right out of you. Hidden Hollows will be open October 16 through October 30 (Fridays and Saturdays 7:00–10:00 p.m.). Check Hidden Hollows’ Facebook page for safety changes and updates related to COVID-19.