A Walk in the Park – St. Cloud MN Area

Privy to Minnesota and it’s ever changing thoughts on the weather, the planned adventure with a friend and her two dogs was put on hold. Tuesday, temp at 41, overcast and a wind that eagerly dropped the temp as it blustered aggressively across the land, through coats and hair. Hints of rain on the incoming clouds, with temps destined to hover into the just above freezing mark. There may be S – N – O – W in the forecast as well… (Indeed, Wednesday morning there was a solid coating of the white stuff.)

Time to pivot. Hmmm….

Instead of visiting a park for a walk in the park, I could write about local parks to visit! Huzzah!

A Walk in the Park – if you’re in St. Cloud MN!

There are ample parks to visit throughout St. Cloud and surrounding area. Most are rather dog friendly too!

  • Lake George Park / St. Cloud MN
    Nestled just outside of downtown, a few blocks from the river and campus, this park is smaller but typically bustling with activity. The “lake” is manmade! In the warm months you can stroll all around the park on a paved path, gawk at the giant fountain in the middle of the lake, run through the splash pad and take in a free concert during the summer. In winter the lake freezes and it’s a popular place to lace up a pair of ice skates.
    * Great for:
    – a stroll in an “urban” area
    – not ideal if you want to do a session here

  • Wilson Park / St. Cloud MN
    Across the river from the hospital, Wilson Park nestles against the Mississippi River. One end has a public boat launch, a fenced dog park (if your dog can swim, there is potential that they can swim around the fence…). A huge grassy area is next to the dog park and there’s a playground for assorted kid friendly play. Stroll along the grassy areas and weave between the giant old trees. Not a ton of walking area, but a pretty stroll along the river. Being on the river, there may be a fair amount of goose poop to eat & roll in + muddy areas along the shore
    * Great for:
    – a stroll & a dip in the river at the public access
    – dog park off leash exploring 
    – would work for a session, though the amount of variation would be a little slim
  • Heritage Park / St. Cloud MN
    Tucked behind Costco & wedged between two main roads, Heritage Park is quiet and vast. There are mowed trails throughout the park that move up and down hills and through stretches of woods and grassy areas. Plus a pair of bridges that span over the little lake sprawled throughout the park. Park in the parking lot for the Stearns History Museum (they once hosted the t-rex Sue!) and head to the trails. Pick a long or short jaunt depending on how far you want to walk or the time you have. Next to the Stearns History Museum is the St. Cloud Skate Park. Pause to watch the skateboarders or drop in for some board time yourself. 
    * Great for:
    – ample strolls throughout a vast area on grassy trails
    – tons of variation for a session, though be prepared for ample walking (want to explore with me?)

Heritage Park. I lost a lens cap off this bridge… At least the bridge was super pretty!

  • Riverside Park / St. Cloud MN
    Along the Mississippi River, across from the St. Cloud State University. Munsinger Gardens is a block or so away. Very big park, lots of big old trees, hills (great for sledding in the winter) and a stone wall that lopes along the river edge that blocks the drop off to the river. A mega pretty set of stone stairs will lead you down to the river and you can walk & fish along the shore. This is a busy park with a playground, splash pad, tennis courts and disc golf course (beware of flying discs & mindful of where you’re walking on the course). In the winter the grounds are groomed for cross country skiing. Talahi Park butts into Riverside Park and offers trails, a stone shelter and benches (I haven’t explore this area yet!)
    * Great for:
    – a long stroll with your dog
    – frisbee golf
    – a session! Tons of variation from the stairs to wall to river & more! (The size of this park would mean we would need to walk a fair amount.)
  • Sand Prairie Wildlife Management Area / St. Cloud MN
    Wide open prairie will great you in this park across from the prison. Tons of native grasses and flowers in various heights. Trails meander through the grasses, with the main trail a straight jaunt to the woods from the parking lot. The trail meanders a bit through the trees, then ends at an observation deck overlooking a marshy area. If you enjoy birdwatching, this is a good place to peep on waterfowl. There is ample room to walk and you will need to walk a bit before you run into the trees. 
    * Great for:
    – a long stroll through native grasses with your dog
    – ok for a session – not a ton of a variation
  • Sauk River Regional Park / St. Cloud MN
    Tucked in a bend in the Sauk River, across from the hustle & bustle of Sam’s Club, this park meanders through a clutch of woods, crossing the river via a cool wooden bridge to drop you right next to the Friends of the Whitney Dog Park. You can park & start your adventure from either side of the trail. Very wooded – watch out for snapping turtles in the path! The path isn’t paved, so you may also encounter mud in the spring & after it rains. The bridge is totally worth walking across and if you loop underneath it on the wooded side you’ll find very vibrant graffiti (or at least there was when I visited in 2015…)
    * Great for:
    – a stroll through the woods with your dog
    – perhaps a session, though the woods is rather thick 

Sauk Rapids Regional Park. The bridge, the wall around the river on the Whitney Park side of the river and a glimpse of the graffiti under the bridge. 

  • Sauk Rapids Municipal Park / Sauk Rapids MN
    On the edge of the Mississippi River, this park has a public boat access, a big baseball field, a shelter and a rather large playground. There’s a paved walking path that will lead you past the ball field to River Ave N which plops you right under the ginormous footings of the Highway 15 bridge. Hop around the rocks, dip your toes in the river and oogle at the archways the footings of the bridge make. If you follow River Ave N back to the park and continue to follow it, you’ll find that it leads you along the river to the Lions Park & Sauk Rapids Regional Bridge (
    there’s a cool swirly ramp here). The distance would take a bit to walk, but great if you want to head on a bike ride. The Sauk Rapids Municipal Park does tend to get busy in the summer, so finding parking could be tricky. 
    * Great for:
    – a stroll and exploration day with your dog
    – going for a toe dip or swim in the river 
    – ok for a session (lots of color from the playground), though we’ll need to add some travel time to the bridge

Sauk Rapids Municipal Park. The public water access and various colors of the playground. The image with Bender is what the underside of the bridge looks like!

  • Bob Cross Nature Preserve / Sauk Rapids MN
    A quaint park with an unpaved path that loops around quaint little ponds to drop you behind the Sauk Rapids Middle School. Or take the longer loop and be dropped at the Sauk Rapids baseball field. Not sure how the park looks in person as I’ve never explored here!
  • Watab Creek Park / Sartell MN
    Across from the old paper mill & river tucks Watab Creek Park.  Entering the park you’ll see basketball and tennis courts, a restroom and playground. Continue moving back in the parking lot and you’ll find the shelter and a MASSIVE grassy area that butts into a wooded area. The charmer for this park is the MEGA adorable BLUE bridge that spans over the Watab River. There’s a small dirt path that leads upwards into a residential neighborhood through a patch of woods and there may be another stretch of narrow trail that follows the river. 
    * Great for:
    – a quicker stroll with your dog
    – it works for a session with short walking distances from the grassy area to bridge

Watab Creek Park. Big grassy area with trees & clover (you can see the shelter/restroom in the back of the 2nd image. 3rd image shows the path up to the residential area. That bridge!!!!

  • Quarry Park / Waite Park MN
    One of the most popular parks in the St. Cloud area. Just out of town, Quarry Park has tons of trails that flow through the woods, over a swamp via a floating bridge, into a grassy area while winding around the retired granite quarries (
    all over 683 acres). You can swim, fish for trout and go scuba diving in the water filled quarries or climb up the jumbles of granite (check which permits you need first). Tons of places to explore with your pup no matter the season! A short jaunt will bring you to some old machinery and history of the quarry, longer jaunts will bring you to the various different areas throughout the park. Do note that there is a fee for parking ($10 or $5 depending on the time of year.)
    * Great for:
    – long adventures
    – tons of exploring
    – wonderful for a session, ample variation with a fair amount of walking

Quarry Park. The wooden plants are part of the floating bridge. Tons of pretty rock areas, quarries, and grassy areas to explore!

  • Lake Wobegon Regional Trail
    Ok, not actually a park but an old railroad turned into paved walking/biking trail. It runs 65 miles and is completely paved the entire way! Pick it up in Waite Park and make west to Osakis (legs willing!) In Albany you can continue onward or take an arm that brings you north just beyond Royalton.
    (Check out the interactive map to get an idea of where the trail goes!)  Holdingford has a covered bridge that is super cool and there is a giant scientific & nature area in Avon (Avon Hills Forest SNA) that you can explore. Locate a trailhead, pack a lunch and hit the trail! Best for biking  though you can also walk or jog with your dog. Amp up your burn by towing your dog in a dog friendly trailer or have them jog with as you bike. 
    * Great for:
    – jogging, walking or biking with your dog
    – at stop points it would be fun to do sessions, along the trail would be less workable
  • Millstream Park / St. Joseph MN
    Just a short drive out of St. Cloud will land you at Millstream Park. There are giant grassy areas, a base field, a dog park, and a wonderful stroll through the woods. Two bridges will deliver you over the creek, each leading to the other. Near the parking lot is a big pond with a bench – a peaceful place to sit for a moment. Over the bridge you’ll be on the edge of the creek then following a grassy groomed trail in a loop to the other bridge. Heads up! This is a disc golf course. 
    * Great for:
    – a medium long stroll through a woodsy area (keep an eye out for disc golfers)
    – disc golf
    – a session with some walking

Millstream Park. Cool bridge & less cool bridge haha! Tons of grassy areas and wooded areas. 

  • Hidden Lake Park / St. Augusta MN
    A short drive south of St. Cloud will land you in St. Augusta where you’ll find Hidden Lake Park. There’s a small playground, a shelter and quick access to the lake via a wooden fishing pier. Following the disc golf path, you’ll wind around the lake, through the woods and end back again at the parking lot. A good portion of the path is paved as it weaves throughout the trees making the stroll quite comfortable and leisurely. 
    * Great for:
    – an easy stroll through a wooded area
    – disc golf
    – a session as there is ample areas to cover with a decent amount of walking

Hidden Lake Park. Lots of textures and a very pleasant walking path that’s paved.

  • Kiffmeyer Park / St. Augusta MN
    Also a short drive from St. Cloud, Kiffmeyer Park is quaint and quiet. From the ball park on one edge, the park meanders towards a rolling hill, crossing a little river via a cute bridge. Ample open areas to explore plus wooded areas that follow the river. At the top of the rolling hill there is a small playground and parking lot. 
    * Great for:
    – an easy leisurely stroll in a sorta small park
    – a session with fair amount of variation in a smaller park

Kiffmeyer Park. Quaint and easy to walk with a cute bridge and lots of grassy areas 

  • Bend in the River Regional Park / Rice MN
    Head out of St. Cloud roughly 20 min and you’ll find into Bend in the River Regional Park. Yes the park is located on a bend of the Mississippi River! Once upon a time this was a working farm raising chickens, pigs, corn and potatoes. The original homestead was built in the 1880s, the barn in 1907. The second owner arrived in 1912, replaced the house, built more outbuildings (a garage in 1915 for the new car) and it remained in the family until the property was sold to Benton County in 2002. All of the buildings are still standing! There is TONS of texture around the buildings – from cobbled walls, the metal sided barn and piggery, to the slates of the granary and the peeling white of the house. Stroll and read the plaques for each structure then pick a direction to follow the gravel trail. The path to the south of the farmstead loops you past the second parking lot, switches you across the road and walks back to the farmstead. Opt for a longer stroll as the path loops completely around some farm land. The path to the north of the farmstead makes a short loop, landing you on the driveway to the farmstead. Additionally there is a path that branches from the main path (when going south) that drops you into a wooded area butting up against the river. Tons of textures, and variations in landscape make this a FAVORITE place for photographers. (In the fall this place gets crazy busy with sessions!)
    * Great for:
    – a variety of strolls – short through the farmstead to long for the farmland loop
    – a session! Tons of textures, buildings, landscapes in a very walkable area

Bend in the River Regional Park. Tons of texture and different landscapes! (And yes that’s me in the last three!)

  • Mississippi River County Park / Rice MN
    Directly across the river from Bend in the River Regional Park! This park follows the Mississippi River for 1.3 miles and covers 230 acres of land. One third of of the park is wooded, the rest of the park features ample grassy areas. There is a disc golf course, archery range, boat launch, canoe campsites and camping for groups like boy scouts and girl scouts. Tons of walking paths to explore. (I haven’t explore this area yet!)

Tons of options for taking a stroll and having a photography session with your dog! If you want to be a dog model for the locations I have yet to explore email me at and we’ll go scouting together!

This is a blog ring! Follow the links until you end up back here! Next Nicole Hrustyk of Pawtraits by Nicole, takes you for a virtual walk through Sunset Park Trail.

5 thoughts on “A Walk in the Park – St. Cloud MN Area”

  1. Wow, what a variety of parks – a great idea. I’m jealous because of all the bridges you have that you can use to photograph dogs – I don’t have many choices here in central Florida…..and all those large boulders! Thanks for sharing – I’ve never been to Minnesota ….but if I do, it’s going to be in those summer months!

  2. Oh wow! What an amazing list for those who live in you area! So many options. Loving the graffiti walls and the foot bridges. And of course any time there is snow I’m in love! Great post!

  3. Great pivot! You’ll get lots of use out of this post for new clients trying to decide on a session location, so many examples to help them imagine what their pet’s portrait would look like in those locations. I’m partial to the primary colors of the playground and that blue bridge!

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